Freshened since a fifth-place finish in the Ashland Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland three months ago, Upperline drew away to a 4 3/4-length victory over favored Snow Top Mountain in the $100,000 Arlington Oaks (gr. III) (VIDEO) July 3.
One of three sophomore fillies pegged at 2-1 in the 1 1/8-mile Polytrack test, Upperline was ridden to victory by E.T. Baird for trainer Michael Stidham, who owns the daughter of Maria's Mon in partnership with Arthur Hancock III's Stone Farm, John H. Adger and Oakcrest Farm.
Upperline broke on top from the rail, but settled into second leaving the first turn on the outside of Chantilly Nayla, who pushed her way to the front and carved an honest pace for jockey James Graham of :23.89, :48.07, and 1:13.48. Upperline, though, always looked comfortable while stalking the leader, reeling her in rounding the final turn at Arlington Park as Snow Top Mountain and Jesus Castanon threatened. Upperline responded to the challenge, however, although drifting out leaving the turn, and steadily edged away to a comfortable win while coming home in 1:52.13.
Snow Top Mountain, who made her bid three wide and was floated out by the winner, lacked a needed late punch and finished second in the strung-out field of six by 6 1/2 lengths. Dundalk Dust ran on late for third after being shuffled back early with Eduardo Perez aboard. Chantilly Nayla was fourth, followed by Age of Humor and Laura Babe, who trailed throughout.
Upperline broke her maiden at Arlington in her first start nearly one year ago and followed that effort with a second to eventual juvenile filly champion She Be Wild in Arlington's Top Flight Stakes last August. After a first-level allowance win at Keeneland in October, she completed her 2-year-old campaign with a third-place finish in Churchill Downs' Golden Rod Stakes (gr. II) Nov. 28.
"She could definitely run when she was a 2-year-old," Baird said. "And she sure could run today. She felt powerful out there."
Upperline started her 2010 season at Gulfstream Park on the turf, finishing a close fifth in the Coconut Grove Stakes on a good course Feb. 14 before running third, beaten by one length, over firm going in the nine-furlong Herecomesthebride Stakes (gr. IIIT) three weeks later. Following her fifth-place effort in the Ashland, in which she was last early and finished seven lengths behind the victorious Evening Jewel, Upperline got a break.
The Arlington Oaks is Upperline's first stakes victory. All three of her scores in an eight-race career have come on synthetic surfaces. The winner's share of $59,400 boosted her overall earnings to $165,387.
“Upperline went to Florida this winter and ran in some really tough turf races and the fact she was competitive in those races should mean a lot for the rest of year,” Stidham said. “You pick races and try to give horses time to freshen and have them right for the right day.”
Upperline carried 118 pounds and paid $6.60, $3.20, and $3. Snow Top Mountain, who now has two wins and three seconds in five lifetime starts for trainer Tom Proctor, returned $3.20 and $2.40. Dundalk Dust, who lost for the first time in her three-race career for trainer Chris Block, paid $3.
Bred by Stonerside Stable, Upperline is a bay filly out of Snowflake (by Caerleon).