09/06/2010 5:27PM

Dade Babe leads all the way in Pucker Up

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Doug Clark/Four-Footed Fotos
Dade Babe, who won the Grade 3 Pucker Up at Arlington Park on Labor Day 2010, is now in the barn of Delaware trainer Juan Vazquez.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Trainer Danny Miller and jockey Florent Geroux notched the first graded stakes win of their respective careers Monday when pacesetting Dade Babe ran away with the Grade 3, $100,000 Pucker Up Stakes at Arlington Park.

Dade Babe was claimed by trainer David Fawkes for owner Lawrence Peifer for just $25,000 during the Gulfstream Park meeting. Miller and Fawkes are friendly, and Peifer is a Chicagoan, and so late this spring Dade Babe joined Miller’s stable. Her first Chicago start? A $17,500 conditioned claiming race here June 27.

“They wanted to run her where she could win, so that’s what we did,” said Miller, who had lost with his first 12 graded stakes starters. “You could watch this filly improving. It seems like every race we had her, she’s gotten better and better.”

After winning that Polytrack claimer, Dade Babe finished fourth July 22 when racing for a $62,500 claiming price on turf, and on Aug. 12 she eked out an entry-level allowance victory, leading from gate to wire. On Monday, she and Geroux popped the gate, and Geroux, glancing at the big-screen monitor in the infield, saw he was well clear of the others passing the stands for the first time.

Dade Babe led by seven lengths, then 10 down the backstretch. How fast she was going is uncertain, since the Arlington timer didn’t start until after the race was well under way. Hand-timed fractions of 24.81 seconds for the opening-quarter mile and 49.72 for the half were reported, but Dade Babe appeared to be running at a quicker clip than that.

Geroux, a young Frenchman having the most productive meet of his career this summer, said both he and his mount were comfortable on a clear lead.

“She’s a very difficult filly,” Geroux said. “She just wants to go and she has a very light mouth. It doesn’t really matter how fast you go as long as she’s relaxed.”

Favored La Cloche, racing in third, closed the gap from the top of the stretch to the finish but was no match for Dade Babe, who won by 3 3/4 lengths. She paid $15.20 to win and was hand-timed in 1:51.77 for 1 1/8 miles on good turf. Silent Candy finished third, followed by Dundalk Dust, Maddie’s Odyssey, Cave Creeker, Mourette, Besitos, and Kilmore Quay.