Benoit Photo/Del Mar
The biggest day of the season at Arlington International Racecourse will close with the 54th running of the Grade III $100,000 Pucker Up Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. A field of 12 was assembled for the nine-furlong race over the turf, led by Sam-Son Farm’s Journey Home
. Trained by Graham Motion, the daughter of War Front broke her maiden at first asking over the turf at Laurel Park before capturing the Grade III Jimmy Durante Stakes at Del Mar last fall as a juvenile. Following a rocky sophomore debut against graded-stakes company, she won the Christiana Stakes at Delaware Park in her third start of the season. Eighth last month in the Grade I Belmont Oaks Invitational, she should be much more competitive in this field. Jose Ortiz teams up with this filly for the first time from post four.
Agave Racing Stable’s Fault, a daughter of Blame, will try to improve on her second last out in the Ta Wee Stakes at Indiana Grand on July 20. The Michelle Lovell trainee had to travel wide in the stretch to find running room, and when finally set down late rallied for second a neck behind the winner. Gaining an extra furlong from that race could favor this filly who has hit the board in all but two of her races. Miguel Mena rides her back from post two.
James Miller’s Lovely Bernadette finished third, a half-length behind Fault in the TaWee Stakes as the betting favorite after being forced to weave through traffic late in the stretch of her second start on grass. Trained by James DiVito, the filly by Wilburn was trying to capture her second stakes win; she won the Rags to Riches Stakes on the dirt at Churchill Downs as a juvenile. She will break from gate seven with Corey Lanerie in the irons.
Chad Brown, winning trainer of the 2016 Pucker Up, will saddle recent stakes winner Lipstick City as she tries graded company for the second time. Steve Laymon, William Robbins, and Richard Broadbent, IV, et al.’s daughter of City Zip was a 2½-length winner at Monmouth Park in her most recent start, the Boiling Springs Stakes on July 15, gaining her first victory of the season. Joel Rosario gets the leg up to guide this filly from post three.
Out Of This World Racing LLC’s Happy Mesa makes her second start since winning the Hilltop Stakes at Pimlico on May 19. It will be the daughter of Sky Mesa’s fourth try against graded-stakes company, having finished out of the money in her previous attempts. The Mike Maker trainee finished fourth in the Grade III Herecomesthebride Stakes at Gulfstream Park earlier this year. Florent Geroux was aboard that day, and will again guide this filly from post ten.
Completing the field will be Royalty Princess (Edgar Perez, post one), Dontmesswithjoanne (James Graham, post five), Sensitive (Irad Ortiz, Jr., post six), Princess La Quinta (Carlos Marquez, Jr., post eight), Katinka (Mitchell Murrill, post nine), Canny (Julien Leparoux, post 11), and Mo’s M V P (Jose Valdivia, Jr., post 12).
Earlier on the card, the 3rd running of the $75,000 Bruce D. Memorial Stakes drew a field of ten 3-year-olds for the one-mile race over the main track, with local Springfield Stakes-winner Smoke ‘n’ Gloat the one to catch. William Stiritz’ son of Smoke Glacken is undefeated in his four starts this year, returning from his two-length win in the one-mile Springfield for Illinois-breds on June 3 to win a 6½-furlong allowance by 3¾ lengths last month. The Scott Becker-trained gelding debuted at Arlington last summer, finishing second twice in three starts before getting a break. Chris Emigh, aboard for all his wins, has the mount from post four.
The Springfield winner will have to contend with a trio of Grade III-placed colts, including Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s multiple stakes winner Kitten’s Cat. Following his maiden win last fall the Mike Maker trainee finished third in the Grade III Pilgrim Stakes at Belmont Park before winning the Juvenile Turf Sprint at Santa Anita on the 2016 Breeders’ Cup undercard. The homebred has raced seven times this season, winning his sire’s namesake race – the Kitten’s Joy Stakes at Gulfstream Park – in February, in addition to finishing second in the Grade III Palm Beach Stakes in March. Jose Ortiz will guide the colt from post five.
B. C. W. T Ltd.’s Neil Howard trainee Society Beau and Robert LaPenta and Harry Rosenblum’s Wayne Catalano-trained Uncontested will both be making their first start on a synthetic track. The former, a son of Curlin, finished third in the Grade III Matt Winn Stakes over the dirt at Churchill Downs two starts back. He most recently won over a muddy track at Ellis Park, bringing his record to three wins in 13 starts with eight other placings. He will be ridden back by James Graham as the duo breaks from gate ten. The latter, Uncontested, last raced at Churchill Downs on the Kentucky Derby undercard, finishing third in the Grade III Pat Day Mile. The son of Tiz Wonderful kicked off the season with a 5¼-length win in the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park before finishing off the board in his next two graded-stakes attempts. Arlington’s leading rider Jose Valdivia, Jr. gets the mount from post eight.
Mongolian Greywolf (Santo Sanjur, post one), Justice Prevails (Jose Lopez, post two), Harmac (Miguel Mena, post three), Gain Ground (Joel Rosario, post six), Yorkton (Julien Leparoux, post seven) and Memory Bank (Mitchell Murrill, post nine) complete the field.
Source: Arlington International Racecourse