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Secret Message Scores First Graded Stakes Victory in Pucker Up
Secret Message delivered a ferocious kick to rally from 11th to first to capture the 55th running of the Grade III $100,000 Pucker Up at Arlington International Racecourse. Trained by Graham Motion, Secret Message was awkward out of the gate under birthday boy Irad Ortiz Jr., who captured the Grade I Arlington Million just one race prior, but settled comfortably towards the back of the pack. Longshot In The Mood set honest fractions of 23.76, 48.54 and 1:13.22 with favored Beyond Blame tracking in second, but when In The Mood gave way around the far turn Beyond Blame briefly took control. Meanwhile, a wide-rallying Secret Message kicked into gear and charged down the top of the stretch to win the Pucker Up by 1¼ lengths in a time 1:50.01.
“Last time she broke so bad and got beat by two lengths,” Ortiz said. “She came from way back and we didn’t want to change anything, we just wanted to break well. She broke well and then I was patient. We let her relax and finish and she was great.”
Owned by Madaket Stables, ERJ Racing, Elayne Stable 5 and Bouchey Thoroughbred Ventures, the 3-year-old daughter of Hat Trick (JPN) made amends in the 1 1/8-miles event for sophomore fillies on the turf following a rough trip in the Grade III Regret Stakes at Churchill Downs on June 16, where she was fourth beaten 2¾ lengths.
The triumph enhanced Secret Message’s career earnings to $104,317 with the winner’s share of $55,800.
“We really took our time after her last race at Churchill,” Motion said. “It was a crazy night, it was very hot that night and she got very upset in the paddock. She behaved great today and just showed up. I think she’s going to get better and better. I think she loved the distance today and I think there’s room for improvement.”
Secret Message was bred in Kentucky by Allen Tennenbaum and is out of the Gone West broodmare Westside Singer.
Augustin Stable’s Michael Dickinson’s Pamina finished second 1½ lengths over Kenny McPeek-trained Princess Warrior.
“My filly ran well,” said Jose Ortiz, jockey of runner-up Pamina. “She broke very sharp. She relaxed very well on me and when I was ready to make a move I did but we came up second best.”
Evan Trommer, Matthew Trommer and Andrew Trommer’s Princess Warrior scored her first graded stakes placing on grass in the Pucker Up. As a 2-year-old she was second in the Grade I Darley Alcibiades at Keeneland and ran third in the Grade II Gulfstream Park Oaks at its namesake track in the second start of her 3-year-old career.
“She broke fine and then put herself a little back,” said jockey Joel Rosario. “She looked like she didn’t have as much speed in the beginning and then she came running in the last part. I thought it was a good race for her.”
Secret Message rewarded her backers with $14.40, $6.20 and $4.40, while Pamina delivered $6.80 and $5. Princess Warrior returned $8.40.
Rounding out the order of finish were Dark Artist, Beyond Blame, Madame Milan, Cosmic Burst, A. A. Azula’s Arch, Smart Shot, Deadline, Kabella and In The Mood. Diamondcoat was scratched.