(Edited press release)
An overflow field of 13 sophomore fillies passed the entry box for the $200,000 Pucker Up Stakes (gr. IIIT) Sept. 6 on the Arlington Park turf. The nine-furlong Pucker Up shares the spotlight with the $150,000 Arlington-Washington Lassie (gr. III) for 2-year-old fillies as part of the track’s “Ladies Day” program.
Frank C. Calabrese’s Dreaming of Liz, winner of the 2007 Lassie, seeks to become the first filly to win both the Lassie and the Pucker Up, and comes into the race off a runner-up effort in the Arlington Oaks (gr. III) over Polytrack in her last start. The daughter of El Prado finished sixth in the $200,000 American 1000 Guineas over this course in May. Earlier this year, the Wayne Catalano trainee won the $50,000 Double Delta and the $50,000 Sweetest Chant Stakes on the main track. Hall-of-Fame jockey Earlie Fires, Arlington’s all-time winningest jockey and second all-time amongst active rider, has the mount.
Pin Oak Stable’s Much Obliged returns to Arlington for the Pucker Up after having captured the American 1000 Guineas. Since taking that one-mile turf event, the Malcolm Pierce-trained daughter of Kingmambo finished second, beaten only a neck in the grade III Boiling Springs Stakes at Monmouth Park in June, and eighth in the grade II Lake Placid Stakes at Saratoga last month. Chris Emigh, who was aboard Much Obliged for her previous Arlington score, has the return call.
Invading from California for the Pucker Up is Bel Air Sizzle, runner-up in the Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT) last time out. In that mile and an eighth turf test, the daughter of Unusual Heat rallied five-wide into the stretch to get up for the place spot, two lengths behind Magical Fantasy. A four-time winner this season, the Barry Abrams pupil also ran second in the Honeymoon Handicap (gr. II) at Hollywood Park. Rafael Bejarano, leading jockey at Del Mar this summer, has been named to ride.
Others entered for the Sept. 6 co-feature include Faisal Salmon’s Jazz Jam, who invades from England where the daughter of Pivotal is one for five this season; Lucky Cop and Return to Paradise, winners of the split divisions of the $50,000 Hatoof Stakes on Arlington Million Day; Illinois-bred Apple Martini, third in the Arlington Oaks last out; and $50,000 Audubon Oaks heroine Closeout.
The Arlington-Washington Lassie, at a mile on Polytrack, also attracted an overflow field of 13 including Jerry Hollendorfer, George Todaro and Tom Clark’s Broadway Hennessey. The daughter of Hennessey has won two of her three starts including the $50,000 Wine Country Juvenile at Santa Rosa July 27. Trained by Hollendorfer, she will be ridden by North America’s all-time winningest rider, Russell Baze.
Tom Walters’ Pretty Prolific is another who bears watching. The James Baker-trained daughter of Lion Heart finished third in the Adirondack Stakes (gr. II) at Saratoga Aug. 13. Rafael Bejarano gets the mount.