Upperline returns to Chicago for the first time since winning the Arlington Oaks (gr. III) last summer when she faces nine opponents in the $100,000 Arlington Matron Stakes (gr. III) May 28.
Besides the 1 1/8-mile Matron for fillies and mares at nine furlongs, the program also includes the $100,000 Arlington Classic for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on turf. The Matron is race 8 on the card at 4:37 p.m. CDT, with the Arlington Classic to follow as the ninth event at 5:08 p.m. CDT.
Trainer Mike Stidham is in strong position for both races. He trains Upperline, who he co-owns with Stone Farm, John Adger, and Oak Crest Farm, and also conditions Willcox Inn, one of the favorites among the 12 entered in the Arlington Classic.
A daughter of Maria’s Mon, Upperline captured the Arlington Oaks by nearly five lengths last July on the Polytrack at the Matron distance. The 4-year-old has returned in good form with two stakes scores to her credit this season, the Allen LaCombe Memorial and the Bayou Handicaps, both run over the Fair Grounds turf course. In her most recent start, she finished ninth after being steadied at the start of the Distaff Turf Mile (gr. IIT) at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day.
Robby Albarado has been named to ride Upperline, a five-time winner in 12 lifetime starts. They break from post 9 with top weight of 123 pounds.
Michael Deegan’s 5-year-old Pachattack, sixth in Arlington’s Beverly D. Stakes (gr. IT) over the Arlington lawn Aug. 21, returns as part of English trainer Gerard Butler's six-horse string that will compete at Arlington this year. The daughter of Pulpit won over Polytrack in the Maple Leaf Stakes at Woodbine last November and finished a good third on the Sporting Bet Winter Derby (Eng-III) at Lingfield in England March 26. Leading rider Junior Alvarado gets the call on Pachattack, who adds blinkers.
Alex Campbell Jr.’s It's Tea Time is winless in three starts in 2011 but comes into the Matron off a third-place finish in the Doubledogdare Stakes (gr. III) over the Keeneland Polytrack April 22. The Rusty Arnold-trained 4-year-old Dynaformer filly has been competitive in graded stakes competition and won the off-the-turf Lake Placid Stakes (gr. III) over two rivals in the mud at Saratoga last August. Eclipse Award-winning rider Julien Leparoux makes his 2011 Arlington Park debut for this mount.
She's All In brings a two-race winning streak into the Matron for trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel and owner Robert Zoellner. Milwaukee Appeal, second in Keeneland's Spinster Stakes (gr. II) last fall, and grade II winner Satans Quick Chick also help to make this an interesting affair.
The Arlington Classic is the first leg of Arlington’s "Mid-America Triple" for sophomore turf competitors that continues July 9 with the American Derby (gr. IIT) and concludes with the Secretariat Stakes (gr. IT) Aug. 13.
Willcox Inn ran eighth on Polytrack in the Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) last time at Keeneland. Previously, the Stidham-trained son of Harlan's Holiday was second in the Grindstone Stakes at Fair Grounds.
As a 2-year-old, Willcox Inn broke his maiden at Arlington, beating eventual Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom in the process, before finishing third in both the Breeders Futurity (gr. I) at Keeneland and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. IIT) at Churchill Downs. Albarado will ride Willcox Inn for the first time for Stidham, who won the first two legs of the series last year with Workin for Hops.
Crimson Knight has made two starts since being claimed for a $16,000 tag in February. Under new trainer Gerald Bennett, the son of Leroidesanimeaux ran second in the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II) at odds of more than 80-1, then won an allowance race at that Florida race course. Ronnie Allen Jr. has the mount.
Team Block’s Suntracer, trained by Chris Block, looks for his third straight victory on turf. The Illinois-bred son Kitten's Joy won allowance races at Gulfstream Park in March and at Keeneland last month.
$100,000 Arlington Matron (gr. III, Race 8, 4:37 p.m.) Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Santina Dond (KY), J Z Santana, 111, G Dorochenko
2. She's All In (OK), L S Quinonez, 120, D K Von Hemel
3. La Gran Bailadora (KY), E T Baird, 118, M J Maker
4. Pachattack (KY), J Alvarado, 116, G A Butler
5. Milwaukee Appeal (ON), K J Desormeaux, 116, S H Fairlie
6. It's Tea Time (KY), J R Leparoux, 116, G R Arnold, II
7. Home's the Best (IL), E E Perez, 116, B Williamson
8. Satans Quick Chick (KY), J E Felix, 120, E R Reed
9. Upperline (KY), R Albarado, 123, M Stidham
10. Spring Party (KY), J Graham, 118, E R Reed
Blinkers On: Pachattack