2014 Pucker Up Stakes Preview

Also this week, be sure to check out Nicolle’s Preview of Woodbine Mile Day.

Wander around Chicago and its suburbs long enough and you’ll find something with the namesake of Dan and Ada Rice. The mash-up of their first names is sometimes used as well, Danada. The Rices donated to a number of philanthropic causes, with Northwestern University (and its hospitals) among the major recipients.  Among the notable properties to bear their name is Danada House in Wheaton.


Danada House in winter, now owned by DuPage County.

Danada House, as pictured, remains open and is now owned by DuPage County.  The barns and stabling area remain in use as an equestrian center, with the house itself available for rental.

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

The Grade Three, $150,000 Pucker Up Stakes headlines the Saturday September 13 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.  Notable Pucker Up winners Vacare (2006) and Hot Cha Cha (2009), who completed the Pucker Up-QEII Cup Double, eventual G1 winner Marketing Mix (2011), and this past year’s G3 Modesty winner I’m Already Sexy (2013).

(For more on Danada House, check out these photos.)

At publish time, the rail is set to Lane 4. Selections are for “turf only”. At publish time morning line odds were not available. Updated September 11th with morning line odds.

Arlington International — Race 8 — G3 Pucker Up Stakes — 1 1/8 miles on turf — post time 4:45 pm CT


Training Track at Danada Equestrian Center.

In this year’s running of the Pucker Up it looks like no one wants the lead in this year’s Pucker Up.  Maybe KISS MOON gets the front by default.  I’m looking at this winner of the Hatoof divisions on Arlington Million Day to get the front.  Her figure on the BRISnet scale of 105 will jump out an lure bettors to her side.  But I like how she cleared the N1X condition at Oaklawn on the dirt.  Sure, she dueled in fast fractions on the dirt two back at Indiana.  But her win last out, her third three back in the Regret show she’s taken well to the grass.  Chris Emigh pulled a wire job last week in the Washington Park, we’ll look for that this go-round as well.  I actually think Emigh is an upgrade from Robby Albardo in this spot, and if someone bravely goes to the lead, she can sit just off it and get first run like the Hatoof or G3 Regret.  Aurellia’s Belle will likely take money on the toteboard, and for good reason.  Winner of three G3s this year, the Bourbonette, Regret, and Arlington Oaks, she’s won on both turf and synthetic at today’s nine panels.  Skipped the Hatoof as trainer Catalano looks for back-to-back Pucker Ups (last year he won with I’m Already Sexy).  She won last out at 6-5 in the Arlington Oaks, and regular rider Channing Hill takes a return call.  Catalano won’t get a training title this year, but he’s hitting at his usual solid clip.  Did close off a slow pace last out in the Arlington Oaks, which may be an asset here.  STELLARIS switches back to rider James Graham in this spot.  Graham didn’t go west last time but STELLARIS did, earning a second in the G1 Del Mar Oaks at today’s nine furlong trip.  Second also to AURELIA’S BELLE in the local G3 Oaks, she’s six-of-six lifetime hitting the board.  The Graham/Stidham is two out of three in the last two months at getting in the money, and Stidham (like Catalano) is hitting at a solid win rate.  Ascending speed figures from start one to now show a professional filly.


#3 KISS MOON (6/1)


#8 STELLARIS (3/1)

Longshot: There were two divisions of the Hatoof on Arlington Million Day, and KISS MOON got a better figure in the second division than ANNULMENT in the first division because of a slow pace (:25/:50) in ANNULMENT’s division.  One of the best closers from that slower-early division is #5 V V GOODNIGHT (8/1).  Still eligible for a two-other-than allowance (which she tried two back), she closed to be third in the first division and was in the same zip code as AURELIA’S BELLE three back in the Regret.  She did show off that closing rally in the Regret, and in the slow paced Hatoof division.  In a field with no dead-set go-for-broke leader, V V GOODNIGHT might be live, and it’s worth noting Mike Smith makes the trip east to accept a ride at Arlington.

Photos above courtesy Heidi E. Carpenter.


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