Stellaris the Horse to Beat in Pucker Up
September 10, 2014 01:39am

Year in and year out, the Grade III Pucker Up Stakes turns out to be one of the most competitive stakes races on the Arlington International Racecourse schedule.  The 2014 edition of the $150,000, 1 1/8-miles race for 3-year-old fillies is no exception having attracted the 1-2 finishers in the Grade III Arlington Oaks as well as the winner from each of the two divisions of the $75,000 Hatoof Stakes.

Stellaris, who races for the partnership of Tom Van Meter and trainer Mike Stidham, looks to be the horse to beat as she returns to her Chicago homebase after rallying to finish second in the Grade I Del Mar Oaks in Southern California last month.  Prior to that, the daughter of Harlan’s Holiday finished second in the Arlington Oaks.  The versatile filly, who is adept at running on both turf or synthetic surfaces, will have the services of the meet’s leading rider James Graham.

James F. Miller’s Aurelia’s Belle makes her first start since beating Stellaris by three-quarters of a length in the Arlington Oaks on July 19.  Conditioned by 11-time Arlington training champion Wayne Catalano, the daughter of Lemon Drop Kid has made just one start on turf and was adjudged the victress in the Grade III Regret Stakes at Churchill Downs.  A winner in four of her eight starts, Aurelia’s Belle will be ridden by Channing Hill.

G. Watts Humphrey Jr.’s Annulment and Carl Pollard’s Kiss Moon won their respective divisions of the Hatoof Stakes on the Arlington Million undercard.  The former, a daughter of Broken Vow, is trained by Victoria Oliver and will be ridden for the first time by E. T. Baird on Saturday.  The latter, a David Vance-trained daughter of Malibu Moon, will be shooting for her third win of the year and will partner with jockey Chris Emigh.

Two other Pucker Up starters exit the split divisions of the Hatoof - Curtis Green’s Maria Maria, second to Kiss Moon in the second division of the race, and Lucky Seven Stable’s V V Goodnight, third to Annulment in the first division.  The former, a three-time winning daughter of champion Curlin, hails from the Jimmy DiVito barn and will have Emmanuel Esquivel in the irons.  The latter, a Tom Proctor-trained daughter of Midnight Lute, will by ridden by Hall of Famer Mike Smith.

Proctor also sends out Five Fillies Stable’s Sistas Stroll.  The daughter of Stroll comes in off a 2¼-length victory in a first level allowance at Del Mar in August after breaking her maiden at Churchill Downs in June.  California-based apprentice jockey Drayden Van Dyke, who was aboard Sistas Stroll for her Del Mar victory, flies in for the mount.

Trainer Graham Motion sends Narola Stable’s lightly raced filly Final Redemption here for Saturday’s headliner.  The daughter of Hard Spun has made but two starts in her brief career, breaking her maiden at first asking at Belmont Park in July before finishing second in the restricted $100,000 Tenski Stakes at Saratoga last month.  Edgar Prado has the call.

Completing the field for the Pucker Up is Dennis Narlinger’s supplemental entry Ameliatheaviator.  The Kellyn Gorder-trained daughter of Henrythenavigator broke her maiden on the Arlington turf in June but enters off a seventh-place run in allowance company on July 19.  C. H. Marquez Jr. has the mount.

Source: Arlington Park


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