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Leading Astray Wins Pucker Up Stakes in Blanket Finish

leading astray
Team Block’s Illinois-bred filly Leading Astray prevailed in a blanket finish to win the Pucker Up Stakes (G3) by a neck over Miss Cato and Volcat.

Leading Astray covered the 1 1/8 miles on turf in 1:49.28. Eduardo Perez was aboard the Chris Block-trained daughter of Belong to Me. The Pucker Up was the second straight stakes victory of the Arlington season for Leading Astray, who in her last trip to the post won a division of the $65,000 Hatoof Stakes to convince her connections to take a shot against graded stakes competition.

“She had run through her (allowance) conditions and she got a little better with each start,” Block said.  “Then in the Hatoof (on Aug. 18), I told my dad (owner David Block) this would be the test to see if we were good enough for the Pucker Up.  She stepped up that day.  She trained great in between the Hatoof and today.  I felt really good about the race.  I’m proud of her and her mama (Taxable Deduction) who puts out nothing but runners.”

Leading Astray is the second graded stakes winner out of her dam, who also produced two-time Stars and Stripes winner Free Fighter and the graded stakes-placed colt Suntracer.  She earned $97,650 for the Pucker Up score to boost her bankroll to $227,887.

Miss Cato was second just a head in front Volcat for the place money.

“She ran huge,” said Francisco Torres, who was riding the runner-up for the first time. “Not knowing her, the assistant (trainer) filled me in. She said last time she had a little bit much to do. All I did was try to get her in a clear spot around the first turn. I couldn’t ask for a better trip, we just got outrun the last seven yards. I was hoping the Block filly could kind of carry me, but she had the jump on me.”

Treasured Up, Freedom Reigns (IRE), Soonerette, Zapper Belle, Ann of the Dance, Dame Marie, Rare Event, Julia’s Star and the favorite Angegreen completed the order of finish.

Leading Astray returned $18.60, $8 and $5.80. Miss Cato paid $6.80 and $4.40. Volcat paid $5.60.

Leading Astray/photo by Four Footed Foto