PUCKER UP STAKES | PURSE: $175,000 | 3-YEAR-OLD FILLIES | GRADE 3 | 1 1/8-MILES (TURF)
Hit the Board Stables' I'm Already Sexy sped to the early lead and never looked back in Saturday's Grade 3, $175,000 Pucker Up at Arlington. Trained by Wayne Catalano and well handled by Florent Geroux, the even-money favorite drew off by 3 3/4 lengths and negotiated 1 ⅛ miles on the firm turf in 1:48.
I'm Already Sexy was coming off a 4 ¾-length romp in the first division of the Hatoof Stakes on August 17, Arlington Million Day. The respective top two from the second Hatoof division, I O Ireland and Every Way, were also in the Pucker Up, but neither could offer a serious challenge to the winner.
Striding forward from her rail post, I'm Already Sexy established an opening quarter in :23 ⅖, and proceeded to set steady splits of :48 ⅕ and 1:12 ⅘. Every Way and My Option kept tabs on her in stalking positions, while I O Ireland lagged toward the rear of the field.
I'm Already Sexy ratcheted up the pace entering the stretch, reaching the mile mark in 1:36 ⅖, and rapidly put the race away. Now unbeaten in three starts on the Arlington turf, the Ready's Image filly returned $4.20 to win and improved her overall record to 9-5-0-0, $234,190.
"It looked like there was no speed in the race," Catalano noted. "We had the rail with some speed. I told Florent to take advantage of that situation. I told him, 'Let's take it to them in the first turn -- I don't care what you do after that. Make them do what they got to do from there.'"
"I thought we'd be the horse on the lead," Geroux said. "My filly was very nice and comfortable. I had a lot of horse. Turning for home when I asked her, she just went on and won very easy. It was an impressive performance here. This was a very nice field and this filly has a bright future."
Every Way maintained the runner-up spot by 1 ½ lengths from My Option, in a merry-go-round race with the top three unchanged throughout. Remember Then checked in fourth, followed by Frivolous, I O Ireland, Miss Scout and Phonybooksnrecords.
I'm Already Sexy began her career as a juvenile on Polytrack, finishing fourth at Arlington before breaking her maiden convincingly at Keeneland last October. Subsequently switched to turf and stretched out to two turns, the dark bay captured a second-level allowance at Churchill Downs in November, and wound up a dead-heat fifth in Gulfstream's Ginger Brew on New Year's Day.
Off for the next five months, I'm Already Sexy reverted to Polytrack for the June 1 Meafara at Arlington, only to be pulled up as the 7-5 favorite. She didn't miss a beat after that hiccup, but returned with a late-running score in a July 5 turf sprint at Arlington. I'm Already Sexy shipped to Canterbury for the August 3 Northbound Pride Oaks, endured a troubled trip, and got promoted to fourth via disqualification. She rebounded with a vengeance in the aforementioned Hatoof, and made it two in a row here.
Bred by Equus Farm in Kentucky, I'm Already Sexy was sold for $20,000 as a Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October yearling. She is out of the Trempolino mare Klohho and comes from the immediate family of Breeders' Cup Distaff contender Flashy American, who has won four of her last five. Her only loss in that span was a runner-up effort to Authenticity in the July 20 Shuvee at Saratoga, and she just earned her third stakes score in last Saturday's Locust Grove at Churchill. Also on her page are Grade/Group 3 victors Nice Pirate and Secret Man.