09/07/2006 12:00AM

Pucker Up Stakes preview


Arlington - Race 8
Pucker Up Stakes (Grade 3)
1 1/8 Miles (Turf)
3-year-old fillies
Purse $200,000.

Ballet Pacifica, a daughter of millionaire Kostroma, should be tough to handle as she makes her North American debut in the Pucker Up on Saturday. A Listed winner in France, Ballet Pacifica tuned up for the Pucker Up with a third-place finish in the Group 3 Prix de la Nonette at Deauville on August 20. The winner of that race, Germance, is now 5 for 6 in her career including a Group 1 victory in the Group 1 Prix Saint-Alary. Germance and Ballet Pacifica are both trained by Jean-Claude Rouget, who sent out French invader Eleusis to win the 2004 Long Island Handicap. Lightly-raced Ballet Pacifica still has some upside potential, and she seems to have good stalking ability. At 9-2 on the track's morning line, she offers value.

Precious Kitten was the beaten favorite in her last two races, but she raced wide in both of those starts, and now switches riders to high-percentage jockey Rene Douglas. Precious Kitten was good enough to finish third to the highly-regarded Lady of Venice three back in the Grade 3 Regret at Churchill Downs, but the late-runner may have to overcome a moderate pace.

Walklikeanegyptian hasn't fired in her two previous starts against stakes company, but she showed an affinity for this turf course when winning an allowance race on August 25, and should save valuable ground from her inside post position. Trainer Tom Proctor is clicking at 25% for the Arlington meet.

Palace Rumor seeks her fourth straight win, and a repeat of the 90 Beyer that she earned in the Audubon Oaks at Ellis Park last time would make her a strong contender on Saturday.

Vacare is a perfect 2-2 in her career, but is a late-runner that may need more pace up front. Soothsay had a bit of trouble in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks last time out. Her Beyers are going the right way, and she shouldn't be ignored in multi-race and exotic wagers.

1. Ballet Pacifica
2. Precious Kitten
3. Walklikeanegyptian