(Ellis Park / All Photos by Holly M. Smith)
From the Churchill Downs Media Team / Kevin Kerstein:
Fergus Galvin and Rebecca Hillen’s Safeen, who has yet to finish off the board from six-career starts, will be in search of her first graded stakes victory against a field of nine 3-year-old fillies that entered Sunday’s $300,000 Pucker Up Stakes (GIII) at Ellis Park Racing & Gaming.
The 1 1/8-mile Pucker Up Stakes, run on turf, will go to post as Race 8 at 3:22 p.m. (all times Central). First post for the stout nine-race card is 11:45 a.m. The winner of the Pucker Up Stakes will receive an automatic berth to the $1 million Dueling Grounds Oaks on Sept. 3 at Kentucky Downs.
Trained by Eddie Kenneally, Safeen scored her first stakes victory in the Horseshoe Indianapolis Handicap two starts ago. Last time out, Safeen surged late but couldn’t catch Xigera and Heavenly Sunday in the Tepin Stakes at Ellis Park. The regally-bred daughter of War Front will once again have the riding services of Luis Saez, who will return to Kentucky from his summer base at Saratoga. The duo will break from post No. 4.
Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ stakes winner Lily Poo was entered in the Pucker Up and will attempt to score her third victory from eight starts. Trained by Michael McCarthy, Lily Poo was victorious in the California Oaks in late April at Golden Gate Fields prior to making her journey to her Kentucky base. In her last start, Lily Poo finished a solid third to Defining Purpose and Taxed in the Indiana Oaks (GIII) at Horseshoe Indianapolis. Jockey James Graham will be back aboard from post 7.
Another intriguing prospect that entered the Pucker Up is Peter Brant’s Frontal Attack. Trained by three-time Pucker Up-winning conditioner Chad Brown, Frontal Attack made an impressive rally from more than eight lengths off the pace to break her maiden on June 23 at Ellis Park. The daughter of War Front will break from post 2 under Gerardo Corrales. Brant teamed up with Brown in the 2019 Pucker Up with Cafe Americano.
The Pucker Up will run for the first time at Ellis Park. The previous 21 runnings were contested at Arlington Park.
Here is the complete field for the Pucker Up from the rail out (with jockey and trainer):
- Bling (Rafael Bejarano, Vicki Oliver)
- Frontal Attack (Corrales, Brown)
- Time to Race (Jack Gilligan, Michelle Nihei)
- Safeen (Saez, Kenneally)
- Hang the Moon (Francisco Arrieta, Mike Stidham)
- Wonderfull Lady (FR) (Adam Beschizza, Brendan Walsh)
- Lily Poo (Graham, McCarthy)
- Champagne Calling (Chris Landeros, Ian Wilkes)
- Freydis the Red (FR) (Brian Hernandez Jr., Kenny McPeek)