09/12/2013 2:01PM

Arlington Park: I'm Already Sexy one to beat in Pucker Up

Four Footed Fotos
I'm Already Sexy enters the Pucker Up off a nice win but may be tested by the 1 1/8-mile distance.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Florent Geroux had ridden Solitary Ranger to victory in the Arlington-Washington Futurity about two hours earlier, but already he was looking ahead last Saturday evening to piloting another Wayne Catalano-trained stakes runner at Arlington. I’m Already Sexy had worked under Geroux that morning on the Arlington grass course, and had worked well enough to give Geroux very positive thoughts about the Grade 3, $150,000 Pucker Up Stakes here Saturday.

And there is more than just one workout from which to derive optimism: I’m Already Sexy won a division of the Hatoof Stakes on the Arlington Million undercard like a filly with a turf future this fall. Despite pressing a demanding pace, I’m Already Sexy drew away to capture the first of two divisions of the Hatoof by almost five lengths, a performance likely to send her off a defined favorite in the Pucker Up.

The Pucker Up, restricted to 3-year-old fillies and contested over 1 1/8 miles, drew eight entrants, six of whom raced in one of the two Hatoof divisions. I’m Already Sexy beat My Option and Miss Scout convincingly enough to suggest that those two are unlikely to turn the tables in the Pucker Up. She also figures to stack up favorably against the one-two-four finishers from the second Hatoof division – I O Ireland, Every Way, and Frivolous – although there’s a decent chance that all three fillies are better at nine furlongs on grass than anyone I’m Already Sexy beat in her split of the Hatoof.

I’m Already Sexy is a fast horse, rateable in a pinch, but eager to get on with her racing. The firm, fast-playing turf she’s likely to find Saturday will suit her, but it’s less certain that the Pucker Up’s distance will fall in her favor. Every Way, beaten a neck by I O Ireland in the second Hatoof division while making her first start since April, can improve and contend, but the filly who might have the best chance to take down I’m Already Sexy is Remember Then.

Remember Then, trained by Jonathan Sheppard for owner George Strawbridge, has been based this summer at Delaware Park and was scratched from an overnight stakes there Friday in favor of a two-stage trip to Chicago. Thursday, Remember Then vans to Presque Isle Downs; early Friday morning she comes the rest of the way to Arlington.

Remember Then has won all three of her well-spaced races, two on Keeneland Polytrack and most recently on dirt Aug. 19 at Delaware. She makes her stakes and turf debut Saturday, but Remember Then has a pedigree slanted top and bottom to both grass and nine furlongs, and Sheppard has seen nothing to suggest she won’t be fine on grass.

Mr. Geroux might have the lead in the Pucker Up stretch run, but he had better steal a glance at his rearview mirror.