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Barn Notes: Sunday, September 15, 2013

| Churchill Downs Communications | 09/15/2013 #
  • I'm Already Sexy

In Today’s Notes: Pucker Up Winner I’m Already Sexy Keeneland-Bound; Stidham Stakes Horses Exit Runner-Up Finishes Well; Catalano Breaks Earnings Record

PUCKER UP WINNER I’M ALREADY SEXY KEENELAND-BOUND
Hit The Board Stable’s I’m Already Sexy put on a clinic on pace and class Saturday when wiring the Grade III Pucker Up Stakes as the favorite under a sharp ride by Florent Geroux for leading trainer Wayne Catalano.  The win topped a huge day for the 10-time Arlington International Racecourse champion conditioner, who also won one other race on the Arlington card and four at Kentucky Downs – including two stakes.  It was Catalano’s second win in the race, the first being with Dreaming of Anna in 2007.

“It was a great day – I’m really happy,” Catalano said.  “She came out good.  We are taking her home to the (hyperbaric) chamber, now.”  This is the same treatment that proved effective when the filly ran a big race on Arlington Million Day in the first division of the Hatoof Stakes, winning by open lengths.  “The chamber helps get the bounce out of them; refreshes them.”

Like preceding many Pucker Up victors, I’m Already Sexy is to be aimed toward the Grade I Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes at Keeneland in October.  “Hopefully we’ll get into that race and she’ll keep improving,” said Catalano.  Three of the last nine winners of the Queen Elizabeth were Pucker Up winners – Ticker Tape (2004), Vacare (2006) and Hot Cha Cha (2009). 

Catalano’s two stakes wins at Kentucky Downs were both with Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey-owned offspring of Kitten’s Joy – the exciting 2-year-old filly Lien on Kitten in the $150,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile Fillies and older horse Coalport in the $150,000 Franklin-Simpson Mile.  While Catalano is unsure where the latter will end up next, he has high hopes for Lien on Kitten.  “She’s hopefully going to be our Breeders’ Cup filly.  I’ll talk to Mr. Ramsey,” the conditioner reported.  “Coalport looked good.  He has overcome his little issues and had a good year.”

STIDHAM STAKES HORSES EXIT RUNNER-UP FINISHES WELL
Trainer Mike Stidham had a tough day of good second-place finishes in stakes both at Arlington and Kentucky Downs on Saturday.  Haynes Stable’s Every Way outran her 10-1 odds to fall short to a loose-on-the-lead favorite I’m Already Sexy in the Grade III Pucker Up Stakes, while Stone Farm’s Trend finished second in a tight photo for the third consecutive race when losing by a nose to Coalport in the $150,000 Franklin-Simpson Mile at Kentucky Downs. 

“Every Way looks good today.  She came out well.  She tracked that horse around there and I think if we would have tried to pressure her, we may not have finished as well as we did.  (I’m Already Sexy) just didn’t back up,” Stidham reported.  “We’ll probably point toward the (Grade III) Pin Oak Valley View (Oct. 18) at Keeneland.  That’s a more realistic race than the (Grade I) Queen Elizabeth (II Challenge Cup Stakes).

“She’s a filly who broke her maiden first time out and we’ve always liked her.  She’s always been an honest filly with a great attitude who tries hard.  Since we gave her a break after the (Grade I) Ashland (Stakes) in April, she has come back really good,” Stidham continued. 

Trend, on the other hand, has been victim to tough-luck finishes.  On July 27, he ran into multiple graded stakes winner Nates Mineshaft in a tough allowance race and just missed beating that ridgling by a head.  On Aug. 17, Arlington Million Day, he was nabbed right at the line by Coalport in another Arlington allowance – much the same as it happened in the Franklin-Simpson. 

“The only step he wasn’t in front was right at the wire,” said Stidham.  “The same horse beat us – it’s frustrating but it’s nice that he’s running well – he’s firing bullets every time.  We’ll look at a three-other-than at Keeneland.  His owners love to see him run there.  We’ll also look at another small stakes for him.”

CATALANO BREAKS EARNINGS RECORD
Ten-time leading trainer Wayne Catalano added yet another notch in his lengthy belt of Arlington accomplishments when he eclipsed the $2-million mark in seasonal earnings on Saturday ($2,002,952).  Highlighted by a win in the Grade III Pucker Up Stakes with I’m Already Sexy, the conditioner pushed past previous record holder Chris Block’s mark of $1,921,998 from 2012.  The record does not take into account Breeders’ Cup earnings from 2002 when it was held at Arlington.  Catalano is also on track to possibly break his own record (75) for single wins in a season.  As of Saturday, he has 68 victories with nine race days remaining.