Racing & Wagering

Barn Notes: Saturday, September 07, 2013

| Churchill Downs Communications | 09/07/2013 #
  • I'm Already Sexy winning a division of the Hatoof Stakes on Million Day (Four Footed Fotos)

In Today’s Notes: Twenty-five Fillies from Across the Country Nominate to Pucker Up; Nates Mineshaft Works Toward Charles Springer

The Grade III $175,000 Pucker Up Stakes has been a showcase of some of the best grass fillies in the country over the years.  Great fillies such as Top Corsage, Dreaming of Anna and Marketing Mix have stepped up and proven victorious in the nine-furlong race (1 1/16-miles when Top Corsage won it) over Arlington’s world-renowned turf course.  This year, 25 fillies from some of the top stables in the country have nominated to what looks to be yet another quality renewal of the track’s top turf race for 3-year-old fillies.    

The prospective field is led by the winners of the two divisions of the Hatoof Stakes, which took place on Arlington Million Day.  Hit the Board Stable’s I’m Already Sexy impressed many onlookers when forging clear of her rivals in the first division, winning by nearly five lengths over stakes winners Bold Kitten and My Option.  The Wayne Catalano-trained daughter of sprinter Ready’s Image looks to be quickly moving in the right direction. 

Team Block’s I O Ireland, a Giant’s Causeway half-sister to Ioya Bigtime, is starting to live up to her pedigree, as evidenced by her victory in the second division.  Unlike I’m Already Sexy, I O Ireland won a hard-fought battle with fellow Pucker Up nominee Every Way for trainer Chris Block.  On Saturday morning, she worked in tandem with Richard Otto’s fellow nominee and Block trainee Alette, going five furlongs on the grass in a quick :59 (out in 1:12.40) under Seth Martinez. 

Also on the worktab for Block was Tim Keeley’s Pucker Up-nominated My Option.  The champion Illinois-bred juvenile filly of 2012 worked an easy five furlongs in 1:02 under Eduardo Perez.  While I O Ireland and My Option are likely to run, Alette is less certain to do so after her disappointing eighth-place finish behind I O Ireland in the Hatoof, according to Block.  Block has won two editions of the Pucker Up – in 2006 with Lothenbach Stable’s Vacare and last year with Team Block’s Leading Astray. 

Maryland-based Graham Motion has nominated Dark Hollow Farm’s Joy, a daughter of Pure Prize who last out was a good third to Bona Venture Stable’s fellow nominee Summer of Fun in the restricted Auntie Mame Stakes at Saratoga Racecourse.  Previous to that performance, the chestnut Maryland-bred was a driving winner of the Christiana Stakes at Delaware Park. 

Also exiting the Auntie Mame is Haras Old Friends’ Praia, a Kentucky-based daughter of Distorted Humor trained by Ken McPeek.  Previous to finishing fifth at Saratoga, the consistent filly was second in three consecutive stakes, including the Grade III Virginia Oaks at Colonial Downs and Grade III Regret Stakes at Churchill Downs. 

Two fillies from California are under serious consideration for a trip to Chicagoland.  Gary and Cecil Barber and Kevin Tsujihara’s Miss Empire was recently a good second in the Sandy Blue Handicap at Del Mar over a mile, losing by one length.  Grade I-placed as a juvenile, the daughter of Empire Maker will be looking to return to the form that saw her land the Pike Place Dancer stakes over a mile on the grass at Golden Gate last fall for trainer Peter Miller.  Also exiting the Sandy Blue is Deron Pearson’s Oscar Party, a daughter of Dixie Union trained by Jim Cassidy who won the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Fillies last fall.  This season, Oscar Party won an allowance on May 25 at Churchill Downs and was third in the Regret, three-quarters of a length behind Praia.  Pearson and Cassidy won the Pucker Up in 2004 with Ticker Tape. 

Perhaps the most intriguing nominee is Augustin Stable’s Remember Then, who boasts only three career starts – all wins.  Remember Then is a daughter of the late great sire Pulpit out of multiple graded stakes winner Owsley.  Though Remember Then has never raced on the grass, her dam won three graded stakes on the lawn, including a stakes record-setting move in Arlington’s Modesty Handicap in 2003 for owner Stone Farm.  Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard conditions the lightly raced filly who beat older fillies in her most recent allowance victory on August 19 at Delaware Park. 

Windy Hill Farm’s Nates Mineshaft worked a spritely five furlongs on the Arlington grass Saturday morning in what was his first serious move since a disappointing Arlington Million.  The ridgling son of Mineshaft worked in :59.60 for five furlongs with regular jockey E. T. Baird aboard with splits of :36.60, :47.80 and out in 1:12.  Conditioner Anne P. Smith is aiming the multiple graded stakes winner toward the Illinois Owners-restricted Charles Springer Stakes on September 21 over a grassy mile. 

Also on the worktab was Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s Coalport – a winner of three races this season at Arlington, including the Black Tie Affair Handicap.  The son of Kitten’s Joy went five furlongs in :59.20.  Trainer Wayne Catalano also sent out a trio of workers as a team, including School on a Hill, Mr. Special and the highly regarded juvenile filly Lien on Kitten.  All three worked in :59 for five furlongs.