09/08/2006 11:00PM

New style, same result for undefeated Vacare


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - When she won the first two races of her career, Vacare got buried behind horses before whipping past rivals with a ferocious sustained run. An Arlington fan had to check his program twice when the bay horse with the number "7," Vacare's number, was up and on the early pace in Saturday's Pucker Up Stakes. A new spot for Vacare at the beginning of the race, but a familiar position at the end - four lengths in front. Vacare easily won the Grade 3, $200,000 , and will end the Arlington meet where she began her career with a 3-for-3 record.

"She's all racehorse," said winning rider Carlos Marquez Jr.

In Vacare's first two wins, Marquez was charged with steering toward open spots as Vacare rallied her way to the front. Saturday, his task was getting Vacare to settle near the front of a nine-horse field. "When those doors opened, she left there like a Quarter Horse," Marquez said.

But by the run into the backstretch, after an opening-quarter mile in 24.37 seconds, Vacare settled into a comfortable stride, sitting about a length behind pacesetting Walklikeanegyptian.

"I was totally surprised to see her there," said Chris Block, who trains Vacare for owner-breeder Bob Lothenbach, "but it didn't bother her at all."

Marquez waited until turning for home, then let Vacare loose. She quickly opened up on Walklikeanegyptian, and her final time of 1:49.71 for 1 1/8 miles on firm turf included a final furlong run in a torrid 11.47 seconds. Vacare, who was almost 15-1 when she made her career debut in June, may be a worthy contender for a race as prestigious as the Grade 1 Queen Elizebeth II at Keeneland.

Vacare paid $6 to win, as favored California invader Soothsay, wound up eighth. Walklikeanegyptian narrowly held second over French import Ballet Pacifica, with My Chickadee, who briefly ran off in the post parade, fourth.