A masterfully patient rail ride by James Graham resulted in a trip to the winner's circle for Hot Cha Cha (5-1) in the Grade III, $200,000 Pucker Up Stakes and capped a big day for the Irish-bred Graham, who recorded a pair of graded- stakes wins on "Turf Showcase Day" at Arlington Park.
After relaxing mid-pack much of the way of the 11/8- mile turf contest, Graham pushed the button on the far turn, swinging the 3-year-old four-wide into the stretch and his filly did the rest, motoring up to and past Romacaca late for a 11/4-length win.
"James did a great job with her," winning trainer Philip Sims said. "He was patient."
Sea O'Erin: Public Speaker (5-1) announced his arrival in grand fashion Monday, thanks to a big closing move along the rail to take the $100,000 Sea O'Erin Handicap by a length over Exchanging Kisses.
"(Trainer) Dale Bennett told me to try to take him back because there was a lot of speed in the race," said winning jockey Junior Alvarado. "At the quarter-pole, when I asked him to run, he ran right away."
Stars and Stripes: Free Fighter and Brass Hat passed tiring front-runner Rumor Has It turning for home and raced as a tandem down the stretch before Free Fighter (10-1) pulled away from the favorite late for a half-length victory in the Grade III, $125,000 Stars and Stripes Turf Handicap.
"We started picking it up together," said winning jockey James Graham. "He held on real well to win it."
Honor Glide Stakes: Proceed Bee and Quite a Handful went 1-2 the entire way in the $50,000 Honor Glide Stakes, and in the end it was Proceed Bee (7-2) buzzing to a nose victory.