Based on her Eclipse Award-winning juvenile campaign and her recent Virginia Oaks victory at Colonial Downs, Frank Calabrese’s Dreaming of Anna appears to be the top Pucker Up (gr. IIIT) choice for its Sept. 8 renewal at Arlington Park.
The daughter of Rahy is a full sister to Calabrese’s Lewis Michael, winner of the Washington Park Handicap (gr. II) July 28.
Dreaming of Anna's impressive 2-year-old season was highlighted by a score in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) at Churchill Downs last fall. Trained by Wayne Catalano, she boasts a record of 6-1-1 from nine starts and earnings of more than $1.4 million.
Lemonlime, another Pucker Up contender, finished sixth behind Dreaming of Anna in her last start in the $200,000 Virginia Oaks at Colonial Downs July 21, and third behind the same filly in the June 2 Double Delta at Arlington. Still, trainer Tony Granitz remains undeterred.
“She got stopped on both turns in the Virginia Oaks, or she might have been right there,” said Granitz. “In the (Double Delta) she got down on the inside, and by the time she got out, the race was over, but Eddie (jockey Razo) told me she was full of run.”
Owned by Richard Shultz, Lemonlime breezed over Arlington’s grass course Sept. 1 in preparation for the Pucker Up, getting a half in :48.
“She breezed good and she cooled out real good,” said Granitz. “We wanted to run her in that prep for the Pucker Up (the Hatoof), but didn’t get to when they took the race off the turf.”
WinStar Farm's West Coast Swing, who also breezed over Arlington's “good” ground Sept. 1, is undefeated in two starts, both over the track's Polytrack surface.
“I thought (the breeze) went fine,” said trainer Shannon Ritter of her filly covering the five-eighths distance in 1:00 in her first encounter with turf. “The time was fast, especially since the rider told me there was a lot of give in the ground.”
French-bred Touch My Soul, a sophomore filly considered for the Aug. 11 Beverly D. Stakes (gr. IT) at Arlington Park for much of the summer, was instead shipped from her home base in Germany to contest the nine-furlong Pucker Up.
Although recently purchased by Team Valor Stable and Ed Weil from Gestut Brummerhof, Touch My Soul remains in the care of German conditioner Peter Schiergen.
Touch My Soul won Germany’s group III Hamburger Stuten-Preis at eight furlongs June 30 under Andreas Suborics, who rode Silvano to his Arlington Million (gr. IT) victory in 2001. However, she was most recently unplaced in Deauville’s group III Prix de Psyche July 31 when asked to go 10 furlongs.
The Pucker Up has often attracted European invaders and has been won by European-breds for two of its last three renewals.
Rounding out the field are Luna Dorada, Testama, Our Dancing Babe, Ciao, Bel Air Beauty, You Go West Girl, Ric Rac, Katerbug, and Pitamakan.
Pucker Up Stakes (gr. IIIT), $200,000, Sept. 8, 3-year-old fillies, 1 1/8 miles, 4:54 p.m. EDT
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Luna Dorada, 116, Larry Melancon
2. Testama, 118, Corey Nakatani
3. West Coast Swing, 116, Julien Leparoux
4. Our Dancing Babe, 118, Jesse Campbell
5. Ciao, 118, Christopher Emigh
6. Lemonlime, 118, Eusebio Razo, Jr.
7. Bel Air Beauty, 118, Mark Guidry
8. You Go West Girl, 116, Jamie Theriot
9. Touch My Soul, 118, Rene Douglas
10. Dreaming of Anna, 122, E. T. Baird
11. Ric Rac, 116, Eduardo Perez
12. Katerbug, 118, James Graham
13. Pitamakan, 118, Robby Albarado