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Upperline Ends Career With a Win

“There were a lot of tears in the winner’s circle yesterday,” trainer Mike Stidham was saying Monday morning reflecting on the victory by Upperline in the Rood & Riddle Dowager. “She has been an owner and trainer’s dream.”

Stidham, who owns Upperline in partnership with Stone Farm, John Adger and Oakcrest Farm, guided the talented mare to a record of 25-9-5-4 and earnings of $772,988.

Sunday marked the final start for the 5-year-old daughter of Maria’s Mon. Graded stakes-placed as a 2-year-old, Upperline won seven stakes in her career with three of them graded. Her victory Sunday made her the first horse to win the Bewitch (G3) and Rood & Riddle Dowager in the same year.

“The Bewitch in the spring might have been her biggest win,” Stidham said. “It is always great to win at Keeneland and then yesterday was the culmination especially after she had run third in the (Juddmonte) Spinster at the same meet.

“It is hard to have a horse with that ability who is able to sustain it for four years. We would give her a couple months off at Stone Farm every year and she would come back to the barn ready to go in the spring.”

Meanwhile, as Upperline’s career was ending, a potential turf marathoner may have emerged in Michael Tabor’s Ciao Bella, a 3-year-old daughter of Giant’s Causeway, who finished three-quarters of a length back in second after a long duel with Upperline.

“We were very pleased with her. She ran a heck of a race,” said Michael Dilger, assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher.

The Rood & Riddle Dowager was only the fifth career start for Ciao Bella and first in stakes company against older horses.

“I don’t know what they have planned for her, but she will ship over to Churchill Downs Thursday with the rest of the barn and that is where she is going to be for now,” Dilger said.



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