05/26/2012 6:45PM

Arlington: Upperline displays different style, same results in Matron

Four-Footed Fotos
Upperline, ridden by James Graham, captures the Arlington Matron by four lengths.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Every winter, Upperline spends about two months kicking back at Arthur Hancock’s Stone Farm in Kentucky, and every year, Upperline comes back into training a happy, healthy horse. She is on her third straight year of high-class racing, and on Saturday she won for the eighth time in 20 starts, dominating the Grade 3, $150,000 Arlington Matron with a four-length win over Hooh Why.

“Look at her,” trainer Mike Stidham said shortly after the Matron, pointing out the considerable bulk Upperline hauls around. “She’s just kept getting bigger and stronger.”

Historically, Upperline – who handles both turf and synthetic with aplomb – has been more of a grinding, steady type than a flashy performer. Last month, for instance, she won the Grade 3 Bewitch Stakes over 1 1/2  miles on Keeneland’s  turf by pressing a slow pace, wearing down her opponents. But Saturday, Upperline displayed a turn of foot. On the lead in the earliest part of the 1 1/8- mile Polytrack race, Upperline wound up racing along the rail in third as Hooh Why led Sea Level Drive though moderate splits of 24.45 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 48.70 for the first half. Still hemmed inside in upper stretch, Upperline and James Graham swung out for room past the three-sixteenths pole, and in a matter of strides collared and went past Hooh Why.

“She gives you a little at first, and then she keeps giving you more and more,” said Graham, who has ridden Upperline her last four starts.

Hooh Why stayed on to finish second, 1 3/4  lengths in front of Ariana D, who made a good move around the far turn but could not quite see out the nine-furlong trip. Then came Hemera, La Gran Bailadora, Sea Level Drive, and 2-1 second choice Kathmablu, who was dull. The winner paid $5.80 and was timed in 1:51.73.

Bred by Stonerside Stable and owned by Stone Farm, Oakcrest Farm, and Stidham, Upperline is a 5-year-old by Maria’s Mon. The winner’s share of Saturday’s race pushed her career earnings past the half-million dollar mark.