Union Strike Surfaces At Arlington For Chicago Handicap

A competitive baker’s dozen has been assembled for this Saturday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Chicago Handicap at Arlington International Racecourse.

Headlining the seven-furlong test for fillies and mares over the all-weather surface is Grade 1 winner Union Strike, who breaks from post two under Corey Nakatani and enters the Chicago Handicap off of a five-month layoff. Owned by trainer Mick Ruis, the 4-year-old daughter of Union Rags cuts back to seven furlongs from one mile after finishing seventh in the Grade 2 La Canada Stakes at Santa Anita on January 13. Union Strike has made two outings over the seven-eighths distance. In one of those efforts she won the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante in September 2016, defeating American Cleopatra – a full sister to Triple Crown winner American Pharoah – and eventual Eclipse Award winner Champagne Room.

“I was going to run her in the Bed o’ Roses at Belmont but I thought she needed one more work and that race looked pretty tough,” said Ruis. “I thought this would be a really good spot for her and then we’d look at running her at Saratoga.”

Three starts ago, Union Strike was second beaten a head in the 2017 Grade 3 Eight Belles over a sloppy main track at Churchill Downs behind Benner Island. Following the Eight Belles Stakes, Union Strike shipped to Belmont Park for the Grade 1 Acorn Stakes, but finished a well-beaten fifth behind Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks winner Abel Tasman. Foot issues forced the eight-time starter on the shelf and she did not run again until the La Canada Stakes. She boasts the highest bankroll of the Chicago Handicap field with $332,505 in career earnings.

Princess La Quinta is going for a hat trick in the Chicago Handicap and will emerge from post five under Sophie Doyle. The 4-year-old daughter of Quality Road is owned by trainer James Gulick in partnership with Al Moorhouse and already has won a graded stakes event this meet in the Grade 3 Arlington Matron on May 19 – her most recent start.  On opening day, she took a 1 1/16-mile allowance event where she defeated stakes winners School Board Prez and Bet She Wins.

Other stakes winners in the Chicago Handicap field include Don and Joe Cochonour’s One Liz (post 11, Jose Valdivia, Jr.) – a 7-year-old Illinois-bred daughter of Kitalpha who takes a crack at her sixth triumph over Arlington’s synthetic surface. Trained by Wayne Catalano, she won last year’s edition of the Isaac Murphy Handicap defeating stakes winners Puntsville and My Mertie. One Liz possess the most career victories in the field having made a total of eight trips to the winner’s circle in 26 career starts.

Hugh Robertson’s Hotshot Anna was a stakes winner over the turf at Canterbury Park last May in the Northbound Pride Oaks. The daughter of Trappe Shot is trained by the owner and enters the Chicago Handicap off of a 6½-furlong allowance victory over the main track at the Shakopee, Minnesota oval. She breaks from post seven under Harry Hernandez.

G. Watts Humphey’s Mines and Magic (post six, Jesse Campbell) won the Dogwood Stakes at Churchill Downs in September 2016 but has gone winless in her nine starts since. Trained by Victoria Oliver, the 5-year-old daughter of Mineshaft was a disappointing sixth in a seven-furlong allowance race last time out over a fast main track at Churchill Downs.

Lizabeth Gore’s Babybluesbdancing is a three-time stakes winner against Illinois-breds but will go for her first graded stakes win when breaking from the nine hole under jockey Julio Felix. Trained by Terrell Gore, the daughter of Sky Mesa won two stakes events last summer at Arlington when taking the Purple Violet Stakes and the Rolling Meadows Stakes. As a 2-year-old she won Hawthorne’s Pat Whitworth Illinois Debutante Stakes. Babybluesbdancing acquired additional black type when finishing second behind Shane’s Girlfriend in last year’s Grade III Iowa Oaks at Prairie Meadows. She boasts a record of 8-4-1-1 when competing over Arlington’s Polytrack.

Completing the Chicago Handicap field are Rags Racing Stable’s Marquee Miss (post one, Chris Emigh), Carol Hammersmith’s Oh So Terrible (post three, Edgar Perez), Castleton Lyons‘ Kyllachy Queen (IRE) (post four, Joseph Berrios), Pin Oak Stud’s Full of Zip (post eight, Mitchell Murrill), Copper Cap Farm’s Natural Wonder (post ten, Declan Cannon), Candie Baker’s Starlight Express (post 12, Rayan Gazader) and Fred M. Allor’s Miss Nancy (post 13, Jose Lopez).

The post Union Strike Surfaces At Arlington For Chicago Handicap appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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