Saturday, September 13, 2014

Arlington Stakes Recap: Pucker Up Stakes (G3)

Contact: David Zenner
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Victory by Sista Stroll Gives Jockey Drayden Van Dyke First Graded Stakes Win
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (Sept. 13, 2014) – Five Fillies Stable’s Sista Stroll overtook the pacesetting Final Redemption inside the final furlong and held off the rally of stablemate V V Goodnight to win the Grade III $150,000 Pucker Up Stakes by a length and a half on Saturday to give apprentice jockey Drayden Van Dyke his first graded stakes victory.
“(This win) is a big deal for me,” said Van Dyke, who flew in from California for the ride.  “It’s my first graded (stakes) win. Of course Tom (trainer Proctor) means everything for me.  He’s given so many great opportunities. I just want to thank him.”
The winner and the runner-up were both trained by Tom Proctor, who was obviously pleased with the outcome which was allowed to remain unchanged after a claim of foul by jockey James Graham against jockey Mike Smith aboard V V Goodnight alleging interference on the far turn was disallowed by the stewards.
        “Both of them are nice fillies,” Proctor said.  “They both ran like they’ve been running.  I liked the finish.”
        Sista Stroll saved ground early and gradually advanced on the far turn to get into contention turning for home in the 1 1/8-miles turf race that went in 1:55.13 over a course labeled soft after several straight days of rain. 
        “It worked out really well for me. I saved ground the whole way,” said Van Dyke of his trip aboard the daughter of Stroll. “I just had one horse in front of me.  She kind of came down on the rail and I just went by her. She really finished well.”
The victory was her third straight but first in stakes competition.  She earned $86,400 to more than double her bankroll to $164,600. 
        Despite the soft condition of the turf V V Goodnight closed well to finish a clear second, two lengths ahead of 21-1 longshot Maria Maria who finished third in the field of nine 3-year-old fillies.
        I’ve been riding for Tom some recently,” said Hall of Fame jockey Smith, who also made the trip in from his California base.  “Since Gary (Stevens) got hurt, I’ve been riding as one of his go-to riders.  When he asks you to come, you don’t ask questions – you just go.  The ground was great for the amount of rain you guys got.  You have one of the best turf courses in the country – if not the best.  It takes water really well.  You manage it great and have a lot of room to move the rails.  It felt like we were running over new ground. 
“I was pleased (overall), but what I wasn’t pleased with was the break.  I was hoping to be right behind the winner.  She missed the break and threw her head.  It would have been closer – I’m not sure if I would have beaten her, but it would have been closer.  There was a claim of foul – and I understand why they would claim it – but I was the in same place from the three-eighths pole to where the incident happened; I hadn’t moved.  They moved on me and I didn’t have much choice.  I couldn’t get out and (Graham aboard Stellaris) wasn’t really getting there – he was driving to stay there. I don’t think it affected the outcome at all.”
        Pacesetter and post time favorite Final Redemption ran fourth, followed by Aurelia’s Belle, Ameliatheaviator, Stellaris, Annulment and Kiss Moon to complete the order of finish.
        “She broke great and relaxed nice and beautifully on the backside,” said Edgar Prado, who rode the beaten favorite.  “When I asked her to go she responded.  She got a little tired at the end and the ground was very heavy going and I don’t think she was too crazy about that.”
        Sent off at odds of more than 7-1, Sista Sista returned $17.20, $7.80 and $5.80.  V V Goodnight returned $6.40 and $4.40.  Maria Maria paid $8.60.  The Proctor-trained exacta was worth $93.20.
        Arlington International Racecourse – the Chicago area’s premier Thoroughbred racetrack located in Arlington Heights, Ill. – will run an 89-day meet in 2014 from Friday, May 2 through Sunday, Sept. 28. Arlington International Racecourse, whose parent company is Churchill Downs Incorporated (Nasdaq: CHDN), also operates 11 off-track, simulcast-wagering facilities in Arlington Heights, Aurora, Chicago, East Moline, Waukegan, Villa Park, Rockford, South Elgin, Hodgkins, McHenry and Orland Hills.  Arlington International Racecourse is a proud member of America’s Best Racing. Information on Arlington International Racecourse and Trackside OTB can be found online at, on Facebook at and, and on Twitter at @Arlington_Park for the latest happenings, @arlingtonracing for the latest racing news and @tracksideotb for all things pertaining to off-track wagering.
David ZennerSenior Manager of Communications
Arlington International Racecourse
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