Photo: Four Footed Fotos
In a race that could have gone many different ways, Illinois-based
trainer Chris Block and rider Eddie Perez teamed up to win yet another stakes
race – this time with Illinois-bred Leading Astray in the Grade 3 Pucker Up!
Over the last couple of days, speed has not been favoring on
Arlington’s turf course as closers have been dominating as of late. Perez
got the perfect trip he needed to bring home the 8-1 winner of now 4 in a row
and 5 of her last 6. Perez spoke of the race, “She broke sharp. I saved some
ground in the first turn. I had a good trip the whole way. She ran great and
gave me everything I needed.”
(Leading Astray in the paddock)
Leading Astray got the pace that she needed to
chase as 42-1 long shot Soonerette set some faster fractions of :23.2 and :48.1
with my choice Volcat close by. These two held the front for most of the race
as Volcat finally took the lead near the top of the stretch. Volcat had the
lead up until about 1/32 to go as Leading Astray blew by on the outside. Miss
Cato and Treasured Up were also near the finish as the final distances were nk,
hd, 1/2 , and no. An exciting race for sure and three horses could have won it
in the end!
Morning line and post time favorite Angegreen, with Mike
Smith aboard, finished last. Said Smith, “No real problems. It was just her
first time out in this country and she just got a little lost.”
For trainer Chris Block, it puts the cap on a great summer
meet. His runners have been doing very well and he even won two stakes races
within one hour (see Ioya Bigtime at Kentucky Downs)!
(Leading Astray in the winners circle!)
Block said of Leading
Astray’s victory, “She had run through her (allowance) conditions and she got a
little better with each start. Then in the Hatoof (on Aug. 18), I told my dad
this would be the test to see if we were good enough for the Pucker Up. She
stepped up (won) that day. She’s trained great in between the Hatoof and today.
I felt really good about the race. Eddie (jockey Eduardo Perez) did a fantastic
job with her. He deserves as much credit as anybody else when it comes to this
filly. I’m proud of her and her mama (Taxable Deduction) who puts out nothing
(Chris Block and Eddie Perez in the post-race interview)
To see my full day of photos, CLICK HERE.
To watch a replay of today's race, CLICK HERE.
To watch my video interview with Mike Smith - asking him about today's Pucker Up Stakes mount, CLICK HERE.
This ends the graded stakes program for the fantastic 2012
Arlington meet. While the meet broke slow from the gate, it saved ground on the
turn and stormed home with a fury! I’ll wrap up the Arlington meet soon and
also stay tuned for the Hawthorne fall meet preview!