Along with his 5-year-old mare Upperline, who he also owns in partnership with Stone Farm, Oakcrest Farm and John Adger, trainer Mike Stidham has now joined an exclusive group of four other conditioners whose fillies accomplished victories in both the Grade III Arlington Oaks as well as the Grade III Arlington Matron.
Stidham saddled Upperline to win the Arlington Oaks in 2010 and together they added a comfortable four-length tally in Saturday’s Arlington Matron to their resume.
Two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Carl Nafzger won the 1983 Arlington Oaks with Frances Genter Stable’s Choose A Partner and came back to Chicago to take the Matron with that filly the next season.
Arlington-based but nationally prominent conditioner Donnie K. Von Hemel won the 1994 Arlington Oaks with Thunderhead Farms’ Mariah’s Storm one year after capturing the Grade III Arlington-Washington Lassie with that filly as a 2-year-old and one year before she came back to win the Matron as a 4-year-old.
In 2000, trainer John Hennig saddled J. C. Routsong’s Megans Bluff to win both the Arlington Oaks and the Arlington Matron as a sophomore, and now Stidham’s and Upperline’s names are added to that list.
However, Upperline and Stidham may have additional worlds to conquer. She has proved to be something of an all-terrain vehicle during her career, usually running equally well on the main track and over grass.
Upperline’s first turf tally came at Fair Grounds in 2011 in the $60,000 Allen LaCombe Memorial, and she came back later that winter to win the $100,000 Bayou Handicap over the Crescent City lawn.
Last summer, Stidham saddled her for a fifth-place finish in the Grade I Beverly D. over Arlington’s world-famous turf course and this spring she won Keeneland’s Grade III Bewitch Stakes over the Lexington lawn.
Would a start in this summer’s Beverly D. on Aug. 18 be on Stidham’s radar for Upperline?
“Well, the next obvious spot for her would be in the (Grade III) Modesty (Handicap on July 14),” Stidham said Sunday morning. “Assuming she comes out of yesterday’s race without any problems, we plan to take things one race at a time and consider that race.
“However, we’d love to see how she runs in the Modesty, and hope she runs well enough for us to that we feel like we belong in the Beverly D.”
JOCKEY BRANDON MEIER MENDING WELL
Arlington jockey Brandon Meier, who suffered a broken collarbone during a racing spill here May 12, had his arm in a sling but otherwise was looking like his usual smiling self when he had lunch with his father (retired Arlington jockey Randy Meier) Saturday at Arlington.
“I had surgery that following Wednesday (May 16) and everything appears to have gone well with that,” Meier said. “They put in eight screws and one plate during the surgery, and the doctors told me it looks like the healing process will take six to eight weeks.
“I’m shooting for a return to riding around July 4, right around the holiday,” Meier said.
‘LEARN TO WIN’ SEMINAR IN PARK AREA ON MEMORIAL DAY
Arlington guests and handicapping students are reminded that there will be a “Learn to Win” Seminar in the Park Area during Memorial Day Monday’s Family Day at Arlington.
The seminar, hosted by Joe Kristufek and Brian W. Spencer, will run from 1 p.m.-3:30 p.m. in what will be one of only two Monday racing programs at Arlington this summer.