09/17/2011 7:56PM

Arlington Park: Marketing Mix dazzles in Pucker Up victory

Doug Clark/Four-Footed Fotos
Marketing Mix, under Junior Alvarado, wins the Grade 3, $100,000 Pucker Up at Arlington Park by 3 1/2 lengths.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Out East, at Belmont Park, 3-year-old grass sensation Winter Memories awed onlookers Saturday with a breathtaking stretch run in the Garden City Stakes. An hour later, the spotlight shone softer at Arlington on the Pucker Up Stakes, another sophomore filly grass race, but no less lustrous than Winter Memories was Marketing Mix, who clobbered 13 rivals in the Grade 3, $100,000 Pucker Up. Marketing Mix made her first five starts on synthetic or dirt tracks. She’s now 2 for 2 on grass, blowout wins both, and a matchup with Winter Memories in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup on Oct. 15 at Keeneland might make worthwhile viewing.

A full gate of 14 started in the Pucker Up, run at 1 1/8 miles over a firm course, but the race lacked competitive drama. Marketing Mix and jockey Junior Alvarado took up a stalking position in second as longshot Love Dare set splits of 23.81 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 48.41 for the first half. Marketing Mix moves beautifully on turf and raced well in hand for Alvarado, relaxing for her rider even when Triune came up three wide to put Marketing Mix between horses down the backstretch. Alvarado waited until the quarter pole, and once he asked Marketing Mix for run, she quickly left Love Dare and Triune behind. Her stretch-call lead was four lengths, the winning margin 3 1/2.

“The winner was a handful,” said jockey Corey Lanerie, who came home well enough on Sea Level Drive to finish second. “She was finding another gear at the wire.”

Maid of Heaven finished third, a half-length behind Sea Level Drive, with several horses – Don’t Tell Sophia, Barbies M, and Trac N Jam, to name three – finding compromising trouble in the packed field. But considering the way Marketing Mix finished, with a ninth furlong in 11.42 seconds on the way to a final time of 1:49.24, its highly unlikely anyone would have run her down.

“I was a little worried getting her to relax, since she had two months off, but she relaxed really nice off the horse in front, and the rest was pretty easy,” Alvarado said.

Marketing Mix, a $150,000 yearling purchase by Medaglia d’Oro and owned by the Glen Hill Farm of Leonard Lavin, finished third and fourth in the first two legs of the Canandian Triple Tiara for Ontario-breds, but both of those races were on Polytrack, and, switched to turf for the first time in her career, Marketing Mix won the Tiara’s third leg, the Wonder Where, by almost five lengths.

“Her Poly races were pretty good,” said winning trainer Tom Proctor, “but she’s more fluid on turf.”

Proctor often ends conversations by saying, “down the road,” but he is not a trainer who enjoys publicly looking very far down the road. In that vein, Proctor demurred when asked to confirm the QE II as Marketing Mix’s next objective. But that is the obvious next stop for the filly. Winter Memories should be waiting.