Craig Dollase, who recently received 19 horses from Mick Ruis after the owner ended his business relationship with his daughter, trainer Shelbe Ruis, worked one of them Oct. 15 at Santa Anita Park—Del Mar Debutante (gr. I) winner Union Strike. The filly is the early favorite for the $2 million 14 Hands Winery Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) Nov. 5 at Santa Anita.
At the age of 27 in 1998, Dollase became the youngest trainer to saddle a Breeders' Cup winner when Reraise dominated the field in the Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.
"With my years of experience and horsemanship, I hope that keeps the ship rolling," he said. "I'm looking forward to the opportunity. Union Strike worked in 1:14 out of the gate with Martin Garcia up. He was pleased with the work and we're right on schedule."
"Mick and (his wife) Wendy have put a lot of money into the game in a short period of time," said Dollase, who turns 46 Dec. 8.
Earlier this year, Ruis Racing spent $2 million for eight juveniles at sales in Kentucky, Maryland, and California. Their string is bankroll by proceeds from Ruis' sale of controlling interest in his San Diego-based construction company, American Scaffold, which does ship repairs in addition to providing scaffolding for the United States Navy.
Union Strike, a Union Rags half sister to multiple graded winner Handsome Mike , defeated American Pharoah 's full sister American Cleopatra by 2 14 lengths in the Debutante in her stakes debut Sept. 3 after finishing second to that rival in her first start July 31 at Del Mar. Ruis Racing paid $375,000 for Union Strike at the Ocala Breeders' Sale Co.'s spring sale of select 2-year-olds in training, where Old South Farm consigned as agent.
Also on Saturday, Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) winner Melatonin moved another step closer to his first race since winning the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (gr. I) on June 25 when he worked seven furlongs in 1:27 flat under regular rider Joe Talamo for the $6 million Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) Nov. 5.
"He looked real good," said David Hofmans, who trains the gelded son of Kodiak Kowboy for owner Susan Osborne's Tarabilla Farms. "Joe was happy. We're on course. He'll probably work again next Saturday and go from there."