How to Bet Saturday’s Pucker Up Stakes at Arlington

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Noel Michaels

August 10th, 2019

The $100,000 Pucker Up (G3) is the last of five stakes races on the loaded 12-race Arlington Million card on Saturday, August 10, and is the anchor leg of the late multi-race All-Stakes bets such as the Pick 5 and Pick 4. The 1 1/8-mile turf race for three-year-old fillies drew a wide-open full 12-horse field and is amongst the toughest handicapping puzzles on the Saturday Arlington program. I hope you are alive for the will-pays in the nightcap. Here is a look into how to bet the Pucker Up. ANALYSIS This is a race that may lend itself to spreading out in the final leg of your multi-race wagers, so use as many of these as possible, led by Winter Sunset (#9) (7-2), Art of Almost (#10) (5-1), Princesa Carolina (#8) (8-1), Café Americano (#11) (3-1) Indigo Gin (#4) (6-1) and Winning Envelope (#5) (12-1) in that order of preference. When putting together your exacta and trifecta bets, you’ve gotta draw the line somewhere or else you’ll be hitting the “all” button. Narrow these down to four horses, Winter Sunset, Art of Almost, Princesa Carolina and Café Americano, and box those four in the exactas and trifectas. WAGERS $2 Exacta Box 8, 9, 10, 11  = $24 $1 Trifecta box 8, 9, 10, 11 = $24 Use as many of 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11 as you can in the anchor leg of multi-race wagers Here’s a brief look at this year’s Pucker Up field: SKY FREAK (#1) (30-1) taking a flyer into graded competition but coming out of a loss on Polytrack, which was actually a better effort than this horse gave in the most recent turf outing two races ago, which was an allowance optional claiming Arlington eighth-place finish. AUNT HATTIE (#2) (20-1) won an allowance/optional claiming race this spring at Tampa Bay Downs but has since lost lesser turf tries at Aqueduct, Monmouth and Indiana Grand. Stakes tested and has speed figures that are solid and consistent, but yet nevertheless a little bit below the best horses in this race. A minor share looks like this horse’s ceiling. LIGHTSCAMERAACTION (#3) (20-1) won a turf optional claiming race at Arlington in her last outing, but beat no horses at or near this caliber when doing so for all-time leading Arlington stakes-winning trainer Chris Block. Suffered big defeats behind Sky Freak and Indigo Gin in recent races, and there are others in this race that are even tougher. INDIGO GIN (#4) (6-1) appeared to be an up-and-comer in the turf division based on a Tampa maiden grass win and a follow-up win at Arlington with a solid speed figure, then raised up against stakes rivals for the first time last time out and making the stakes debut a winning one when defeating some of these same contenders in last month’s Hatoof stakes where she successfully fended off a couple of challenges in game fashion. Florent Geroux picks up the mount, and should have her up on or close to the pace throughout as she stretches again to 1 1/8 miles, but she only seems to get better as the distances have increased so far. WINNING ENVELOPE (#5) (12-1) is a talented stakes-winning filly who won the Arlington-Washington Lassie last fall and then has mainly switched to turf route races since then in difficult graded spots like the Florida Oaks (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs (sixth) and Appalachian Stakes (G2) at Keeneland (fifth) where she lost to divisional leader Concrete Rose. Returned home last time in the Hatoof to just miss when third in a tight finish along with Indigo Gin and Princesa Carolina. The big question is whether her or any of the horses coming out of the Hatoof are as good as the out-of-town invaders for this race. GAMBLIN TRAIN (#6) (15-1) won a Churchill grass allowance two races ago and stepped up in a similar stakes spot in the Regret (G3) last time out, but did little damage there when seventh at 22-1 when well-beaten by Winter Sunset. Among others. COMIC KITTEN (#7) (15-1) returns from a losing try at Saratoga but has strong connections in her favor with John Velazquez riding for Mike Maker. Needs to turn the tables on Princesa Carolina and Gamblin Train, who beat her with no excuses in back-to-back Kentucky turf races in April and May. PRINCESA CAROLINA (#8) (8-1) just missed by a head in the local prep for this in the Hatoof, handled the course, and earned a solid BRIS Speed figure. Versatile from a pace standpoint as a horse that can win on the lead, as she did this spring in an Keeneland allowance race at this distance, or from off the pace as she did in her Saratoga maiden breaker last season. Flopped in the Regret (G3) at Churchill after a five-wide trip from post 11, but she gets a better draw here today and is dangerous for trainer Ken McPeek. WINTER SUNSET (#9) (7-2) is knocking on the door in stakes races and ready to breakthrough after a solid second last time out in the Regret (G3) at Churchill over some of these same rivals. Back-to-back third-place finishes behind divisional-leading Concrete Rose in the Florida Oaks (G3) and Edgewood (G3) earlier this season point her out as the horse to beat against this kind of competition. Finished ahead of Varenka in the Regret, and Varenka returned to win a Saratoga allowance and will be among the favorites in next weekend’s Lake Placid (G2) at Saratoga. ART OF ALMOST (#10) (5-1) earned a big speed figure last time out at 1 1/4 miles when finishing a solid third in the Dance Smartly (G2) at Woodbine behind Holy Helena, who was already a Grade 3 winner in The Very One at Gulfstream this year. Cuts back in distance, but won big on an artificial surface two races ago at this 1 1/8-mile distance which is enough to show that today’s distance should not be an obstacle. Fast turf workout since last race indicates continued fitness for trainer Roger Attfield, who seems to have found an ideal spot for this filly to shoot for her first career stakes win. The downside is that it took this horse six tries to finally break her maiden, and therefore she already has a lot of losses showing in the PPs. CAFÉ AMERICANO (#11) (3-1) is trained by Chad Brown, and any time Chad Brown shows up anywhere with any kind of horse in a grass stakes, you’ve gotta stand up and pay attention. Lost to barnmate Concrete Rose when sixth last time out in the Belmont Oaks (G1), but had started her career two-for-two prior to that last loss, and now gets some class relief because this is a solid but not Grade 1 caliber field. Irad Ortiz Jr. picks back up the mount, and he was aboard both wins. MERCILLA (#12) (15-1) won a Pimlico turf allowance upon arrival from France for trainer Graham Motion and then got rained off the turf in repeat attempt at Delaware Park. BRIS Speed figure was on the light side in the victory, and this will be a big step up for this horse who draws a post position in the parking lot. PHOTO: Princesa Carolina (c) Coady Photography/Keeneland