09/15/2012 6:18PM

Arlington Park: Leading Astray extends win streak to four in Pucker Up Stakes

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Leading Astray finishes powerfully to win the Grade 3 Pucker Up Stakes by a neck over Miss Cato.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Angegreen, the Italian-bred Team Valor-owned filly with the Group 2 overseas placing and the name jockey, Mike Smith, was the 5-2 favorite to win the Pucker Up Stakes on Saturday at Arlington. Leading Astray, bred in Illinois, campaigned exclusively in Chicago, and ridden by nationally anonymous Eddie Perez, went off at odds of 8-1. Reputation, as so often happens, was no guide to outcome. Angegreen never picked up her feet and finished last of 12. Leading Astray came home powerfully and won her fourth straight race, capturing the Grade 3, $175,000 Pucker Up by a neck over Miss Cato.

Leading Astray, by Belong to Me, was bred and is owned by Team Block and is trained by Chris Block. About 40 minutes after the Pucker Up, the Block connection hit in another Grade 3 stakes, winning the Kentucky Turf Cup with their homebred Ioya Bigtime.

Leading Astray ($18.60) has won five of her six starts, the only blemish on her record a head loss in her second race when a rival slipped clear on a slow pace and proved uncatchable. Following that loss, she quickly ran through both her Illinois-bred allowance conditions this summer, then captured a division of the Hatoof Stakes on Aug. 18.

“The Hatoof, that was the test to see if she belonged in the Pucker Up,” Block said.

Block said he asked Perez to hold Leading Astray a little farther off the pace than she’d been in several starts this summer, harking back to her debut win in April at Hawthorne, where Leading Astray came with one big run. That Perez did, as Soonerette led through solid splits of 23.49 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 48.21 for the first half. Pace-pressing Volcat took over the lead as the field turned for home, with Miss Cato also rallying into a contending position, but Perez, racing wide, had Leading Astray in full flight. Leading Astray caught Miss Cato and Volcat inside the final furlong and pushed past for a game score.

Miss Cato, drawn poorly in post 12, finished a head in front of Volcat, who stayed on well for third, a half-length in front of Treasured Up, who launched a solid belated inside rally. Smith, aboard favored Angegreen, said the European import “seemed a little bit lost” from the start of her U.S. debut.

Leading Astray, Block said, will be pointed to one of two 3-year-old filly turf stakes – the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup or the Grade 3 Valley View – in October at Keeneland.

Chris Butler More than 1 year ago
Hey Barry Irwin, how many more of your suckers "drank the Kool-Aid" on Angegreen? Poor Mr. LaPenta your suckered him just like you did to Mr. Santulli. You brag about you successful one(s) you import but never really talk about all of hte STIFFS you import.
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
once again the racing stewards at arlington have shown all of us how incompetent they are,these people are incapable of making an intelligent decision .in the 9th race the 3 horse runs into the fence and causes it to come uninged,instead of disqualifying the 3 and leaving the result they once again took the cowardly option of declaring it a non race,those of us that had the triple with the 5 at 11/1,the 6 at 6/1,the 9 at 4/1,were refunded their bets together with the loosers.to make matters worse the incident would not have changed the results,so maybe they could try explaining how a horse knocking down the rail is any diferent than had he knocked over a couple of horses,ive seen races where only 2 out of the 6 starters finished the race and the results were made official.then they wonder why people are leaving the game, the shameless cowards are incapable of any right decision,its much easier to just give everybody their money back and not have to explain a ruling.
Mike More than 1 year ago
First of all I had the winner of the race in question in the pick 3 and pick 4 so I wasnt happy either, but get over it. Rails were flying all over the turf course, causing several horses to shift around the debris to avoid the problem. Maybe it affected the outcome, and maybe it didn't, but the stewards had no choice. It was a no brainer "no contest". I do agree that the Arlington stewards are the worst in the business, but in this case they actually got it right.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While I'm not going to argue with you regarding the stewards, please stop with the BS about "no wonder why people are leaving the game". I am so sick of racing getting more than it's fair dose of that crap. Like there are never any bad calls in the NFL or MLB or any other major sport that is bet on that cost people money. Please, stop with that crap. It's just piling on and pre BS!
Dennis Geier More than 1 year ago
THEY ABSOLUTLEY GOT IY RIGHT NO CONTEST
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
funny on their web site you have video os every race that day exept the 9th,they dont even have confidence in their own ruling and would rather people did not see it and pass judgement,i taped it and have watched many times and the only horse that it really bothered was the 3 who finishe 4th and has the perpetrator should have been disqualifyed,and the winner who whent wide after seeing the fence coming off but he won anyway so.how is that any diferent from the loosing a shoe that then hits another horse forcing him on to others,or a saddle slip that causes a chain reaction,ive those and many other situations and no one declared those non races,if you watch the incident objectively you will see this was actually realy not that disruptive to the outcome of the race or even the running.
k More than 1 year ago
Sorry Ray but they did what was right. Change the outcome? Probably not but you can`t assume the outcome. No brainer to declare no contest.