Pucker Up Stakes Day Preview

Wander around Chicago and its suburbs long enough and you'll find something with the namesake of Dan and Ada Rice. The combination of their first names is sometimes used as well, Danada.  The Rices donated to a number of philanthropic causes, and their house in Wheaton remains in operation.

http://www.danadahouse.com/img/portfolio-1b.jpg

Danada House in Wheaton.

The Rices were also owners of race horses. (This is a racing blog, after all...) They campaigned 1965 Kentucky Derby winner Lucky Debonair and the 1957 Champion Three-Year-Old Filly, Pucker Up. Pucker Up won the Arlington Matron, Washington Park (against males), and Beldame during her sophomore campaign.

The Pucker Up Stakes headlines the Saturday card at Arlington. In recent years, the race has evolved into a nice steppingstone for the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (QEII Cup) during Keeneland's Fall meet. Last year's Pucker Up winner, Marketing Mix would hit the board in the QEII Cup and was beaten in a photo in this year's Beverly D.

The undercard also features two stakes for Illinois-breds on the grass.

Arlington Park -- Race 1 -- Lady Lionel Stakes -- 1 mile on turf -- post time 1:00 pm CT

This race honors Lady Lionel, the 2008 winner of the Lincoln Heritage.

Female statebreds will tangle for $65,000. It's a familiar bunch, with the 1-2-4-5 finishers from the Lincoln Heritage (for Illinois-breds) and the 1-2-3 from the Illinois Owners' Stakes (for those with an Illinois-based majority ownership) all in the gate. At publish time, the rail is slated to be at zero.

There was no pace in the IL Owners' and that allowed up-close and pressing PEYOTE PATTY to pounce off KATIE THE LADY. There appears to be more pace on paper with GOLDWAY entered, not leaving KATIE THE LADY alone on the front end with a free lunch. The slight edge, based on pace, goes to CUMULONIMBLE, who also three-wide last out and fired a bullet work preparing for this spot. Winner of the Lincoln Heritage two back. She'll get a rider switch to Miguel Mena, and he's half of a jockey/trainer team that's winning at a flammable 39% clip. PEYOTE PATTY got the trip and the favorable pace last time. She's won multiple stakes on the Arlington Turf (see also: 2011 Lincoln Heritage, for one) and is always a threat in the Illinois-bred stakes ranks. Trainer Chris Block, as usual, having a solid meet with turf runners. Another trainer that's solid on the turf is Michelle Boyce, and she'll saddle KATIE THE LADY. Boyce is 21% on grass, and the team with her and leading rider Cisco Torres have a win and six money finishes in eight money tries. KATIE THE LADY wired an N3X field last time out, and she's been in the top two in ten of twelve career starts.

#3 CUMULONIMBLE (2/1)

#5 PEYOTE PATTY (5/2)

#6 KATIE THE LADY (3/1)

Longshot: #4 GOLDWAY (6/1) is a new face among a group that could be interpreted as that a group that draws straws. GOLDWAY has woken up with four straight wins since acquiring the riding services of Rosemary Homeister, Jr.  She's never been in stakes company (and you could have had her for $25,000 during Hawthorne Spring), but she's on a roll. She's won dictating all the terms, but Homeister may be crafty enough to get this one to tuck in and press off KATIE THE LADY. Trainer Janks is usually a force in Illinois-bred stakes. Could possibly be ignored as the wagering faces on the stakes veterans.

Arlington Park -- Race 6 -- Tex Zing's Stakes -- 1 1/16 miles on turf -- post time 3:42 pm CT

This race honors Tex's Zing, a multiple winner of Illinois-bred stakes and over a half million of purses in the late 1980s. At publish time, the rail is slated to be at 62 feet.

The open complement of the Lady Lionel also has a pot of $65,000. TAZZ made a quality case last year to be the champion Illinois-bred turf older male. The form this year would say he's been more hit-or miss, but it's a bit dirtied up. Before the Owners' Stakes two back he had to make a last minute equipment change. You could say that trainer C. Janks sandbagged him four back on Arlington Matron Day. Toss those two, and you have a runner that can wire the field (like he did last time) or come from off the piece, as he did three back in a quality allowance. Homeister/Janks are together on this one, an all-female team winning at 34%. MR. MISCHIEF led every step except the last one in the Illinois Owners' last out. Suntracer nailed him on the line that afternoon. You know he'll gun for the lead and E. T. Baird will take him all the way. And he wired this state-bred bunch two back in the Black Tie Affair. But when he doesn't have the lead (see two back against Willcox Inn) he can be taken off his game. I'd use him in with gusto your multi-race wagers but I'll give the slight edge (on tactics) to TAZZ. FORBIDDEN FOREST has quietly been having a good year, with seven races and seven money finishes. He's been trolling in upper-level allowances, and many times the better Illinois-breds hang out there between stakes bouts. He's only won once this year but he was third two back in the Black Tie Affair. Trainer L. Gabriel is 33% wins on 24 starts for the meet. Returns to stakes company second of the layoff.

#2 TAZZ (3/1)

#5 MR. MISCHIEF (9/5)

#1 FORBIDDEN FOREST (9/2)

Longshot: #4 THE PIZZA MAN (8/1) returned to Earth last time after being ambitiously stepped up in class from three wins against Illinois-breds. Thrown to the wolves in the G3 American Derby, he did manage to make up some ground in the lane. Last time, he went back to Allowance Land and cleared the open N1X condition. Back to stakes company he goes, and with MR. MISCHIEF on the front end, he'll have a pace target to run down. The Midwest Thoroughbreds/Breuggemann/Martinez (leading owners at Arlington, 33% Jockey/Trainer team) are behind this sophomore son of English Channel.

Arlington Park -- Race 8 -- G3 Pucker Up Stakes -- 1 1/8miles on turf -- post time 4:44 pm CT

This solid G3 and QEII Cup prep, as usual, drew a bulky field of sophomore filly turfers. $175,000 will be on the line. At publish time, the rail will be at 62 feet for this race.

The speed figures on LEADING ASTRAY are trending upward, and that's a good sign. She won one of the divisions of the Hatoof S. on Arlington Million Day and before that beat elders (albeit Illinois-bred ones) in clearing the first-level and second-level allowance conditions. Trainer Chris Block (who won this race before with Vacare) saddles this sophomore.  MISS CATO ships south from Canada and makes the first start in the Roger Attfield barn. Easy to like they fact the connections recruited Cisco Torres to take the call on her. Was fourth  two back going ten furlongs in the G1 American Oaks at Hollywood and second beaten a neck at Del Mar. Perhaps she'll move up on a course that's not as hard as firm as the ones in Southern California; she did cash some checks in the UK on ground with give. The race's morning line favorite is ANGEGREEN, a Team Valor/Graham Motion import. Mike Smith (of Triple Crown fame) gets the call. Won at 1 1/16 miles as a juvenile in Italy, and will be cutting back in distance, as she's been going ten to eleven furlongs this year. Trainer Motion is a one-out-of-four winner with these imports, and she'll get first time lasix for her American debut.

#10 LEADING ASTRAY (6/1)

#12 MISS CATO (9/2)

#9 ANGEGREEN (7/2)

Longshot:  Remember when Silver Max won the Virginia Derby and he was the hype horse in the Secretariat? Well, on the Virginia Derby undercard they ran a Grade Three for three-year-old fillies. That race, the Virginia Oaks, sees its winner out here for the Pucker Up. #8 VOLCAT (6/1) is trained by Ken McPeek, and he and rider Robby Albardo are one-for-two together during the meet. VOLCAT may get ignored because she stopped the timer in 1:52 for the nine furlongs of the Virginia Oaks, but that was a wet course. She's been reinvigorated since going to the turf and being forwardly placed with two wins (including the G3). Her only bad race of the year comes with an excuse, a horrid break in the Eight Belles at Churchill; the rest have been all credible and that consistency makes her easy to use.

Good luck!

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