French Import Little Treasure Takes Pucker Up

(From track report)
French-bred filly Little Treasure remained perfect in two North American starts, racing on or near the lead throughout Saturday's $150,000 Pucker Up Stakes (gr. IIIT) en route to a 1 1/2-length tally in the 1 1/8-mile turf race at Arlington Park.

Rene Douglas rode the daughter of Night Shift, who covered the distance in 1:49.92 over firm going. The Pucker Up victory gave Douglas a sweep of the day's featured events. One race earlier the jockey captured the $42,000 Unique Type Handicap aboard two-time Illinois Horse of the Year Two Item Limit.

"She's a little tiny filly with a big heart," said Douglas, who was riding Little Treasure for the first time. "I didn't expect to be on the lead, but nobody wanted to take the lead. I had no choice. I was hoping to get her to relax and she did on the backstretch. She exploded in the end like a nice filly.

"The filly next to me (Cellars Shiraz) was the second choice, so I thought one of the two of us would win in the end so let's see who is better," Douglas added. "We both let our horses run in the stretch at the same time but my filly just put her away."

Little Treasure earned $90,000 for the win and has banked $180,000 in her two starts since being purchased by the Sidney Port Trust, Liberty Road Stables & San Gabriel Investments. Her overall record stands at six wins, a second and a third in nine trips to the post for earnings of $233,197.

"(My husband Emmanuel) saw her run in France and he really liked her, so he got the deal done as soon as possible," explained winning trainer Laura de Seroux, who is also a co-owner of the filly. "I talked to Sid (Port) about buying her and the fact that we could run in the Del Mar race (San Clemente) and that the Pucker Up would fit very well into her schedule. This has been the plan since she arrived in America."

De Seroux indicated that Little Treasure might be pointed to the $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes (gr. IT) at Keeneland on Oct. 12.

Cellars Shiraz battled for the lead throughout the race and finished second by a neck over Kathy K D, who rallied from far back to get the show money. Traci's Wild, Bee Me Honey, Delicatessa, Attico, Yalta, Miss Marcia, Transition Time and Baldellia completed the order of finish.

"The winner is a very nice filly," said Cornelio Velasquez, who rode Cellars Shiraz. "My filly is a very nice filly, too, but the distance is just a little too long for her. We didn't have any trouble; it was just too long."

"She ran a good race," said jockey Ray Sibille of Kathy K D's trip. "We just had no place to run. I believe if we had had a clear run we would have won it. She was flying at the end."

Little Treasure, the 13-10 favorite, paid $4.60, $3 and $2.60. Cellars Shiraz returned $3.40 and $3.20. Kathy K D paid $7.60.

In the preceding race, Joseph Graffeo's Two Item Limit stalked the pace of Shemya, overtook that rival in mid-stretch and drew off to a four-length victory in the $42,000 Unique Type Handicap Saturday at Arlington Park.

Douglas was aboard the Stephen DiMauro-trained filly who covered the mile over a fast track in 1:36.87.

The Unique Type marked the first start for the bay daughter of Twining in her native state.

Sent off as the 3-10 favorite, Two Item Limit paid $2.60, $2.10 and $2.10. Something Wicked rallied from last to be second and returned $3.80 and $2.10. Pacesetter Shemya was caught late for the place money and finished third, paying $2.10.