(Safeen captures the G3 Pucker Up Stakes on Sunday at Ellis Park / All Photos by Coady Photography)

From the Ellis Park Media Team / Kevin Kerstein:

Fergus Galvin and Rebecca Hillen’s Safeen rallied down the center of Ellis Park’s turf course and got by Bling in the final strides to win Sunday’s 58th running of the $300,000 Pucker Up (Grade III), the featured event on Day 2 of Kentucky Downs Preview Weekend.

          The Pucker Up was Safeen’s first graded stakes victory from seven starts. She was ridden by Luis Saezfor trainer Eddie Kenneally.

          Bling was sent to the early lead after breaking from the rail and was soon pressured to her outside byFrontal Attack. The duo completed an easy quarter-mile in :24.52. Safeen and Saez tracked in fourth while staying in the clear. Around the far turn, Frontal Attack began to fade while Saez tipped Safeen to her outside. In the stretch, Safeen drifted in slightly but was able to gain the upper hand of Bling by a half-length. It was another 1 ½ lengths back to Freydis the Red (FR) who completed the top 3.

          “She’s pretty quick from the gate, Saez said. “The two horses inside were the speed. We let her sit and get into a smooth stride. When I came into the stretch I was loaded. She can run all day and confident she can get the (1 5/16) distance at Kentucky Downs.”

          “I think we should have a look at the race at Kentucky Downs,” Kenneally said. “She’s starting to mature and relax in her races. It makes her a better horse. At this point I think she can go a little further. I think we have a little cushion now that we have a graded stake on our resume.”

          The race at Kentucky Downs Kenneally referred to was the $1 million Dueling Grounds Oaks (GIII). With her victory in the Pucker Up, Safeen earned an all entry fees paid berth to the Dueling Grounds Oaks, which will be run on Sept. 3.

          Safeen’s overall record now stands at 7-3-1-3 with purse earnings of $372,090.

          Safeen is a 3-year-old daughter of War Front out of the Dynaformer mare Tafaneen. She was bred in Kentucky by Shadwell Farm.

          Here is the complete running order of the Pucker Up Stakes (with $2 mutuel returns):

  1. Safeen ($4.54, $3.22, $2.42)
  2. Bling (X, $3.86, $2.72)
  3. Freydis the Red (X, X, $3.14)
  4. Hang the Moon
  5. Lily Poo
  6. Frontal Attack
  7. Champagne Calling
  8. Wonderfull Lady (FR)

          Racing is set to resume Friday-Sunday from Ellis Park. Daily first post is 11:45 a.m. Sunday is Groupie Doll Stakes Day at Ellis Park where the 10-race affair will feature a six pack of stakes contests led by the $150,000 Groupie Doll (Listed) and $250,000 Ellis Park Derby (Listed).

          For more information about racing and gaming from Ellis Park, visit www.ellisparkracing.com.