A field of eight fillies and mares went to post in Saturday's GIII Chicago Handicap, and it was the 7-year-old mare My Mertie who scored a 33-1 upset over 3-5 favorite Hotshot Anna.
My Mertie sat sixth in the early stages while the leaders sprinted the first quarter mile in 22.60 seconds and a half in 45.30 seconds. Rounding the far turn, My Mertie swung out wide and was set down for the drive home. Just past the eighth pole, she took over and scored her first graded stakes victory in a final time of 1:22.44 for seven furlongs at Arlington Park.
This was the first win of 2019 for the Michele Boyce trained mare. Despite kicking off her summer campaign in an allowance race at Arlington in May with a mediocre fifth place finish, Boyce and part owner Terry Biondo still had full confidence in her,
“Terry Biondo, one of her owners said her numbers fit with who's in there and that we should go ahead and nominate her,” Boyce said. “I didn't exactly think it was the best spot for her but there wasn't anywhere else to run her. When I worked her last week Carlos Marquez was extremely confident in her, so we went through with it and he sure was right.”
My Mertie has now won eight races in her thirty-one race career with her four most recent wins coming from off the pace,
“What's funny is when 'Mertie' first started racing, she was a front-running sprinter,” Boyce explained. “We brought her here last year and she broke bad and ended up coming from dead last to win. Ever since than that has been her style and it's working for her.”
The Illinois-bred daughter of Magna Graduate has now hit the board in eleven of her twelve tries on the synthetic surface, with four wins.
“I would love to keep her here,” Boyce said. 'There hasn't been many opportunities though. We were able to get that six-furlong prep into her but nothing else. She loves it here at Arlington. She's a very game and consistent mare.”
“Last time I rode her off of that layoff since October,” Marquez Jr. said. “She came up a little short that day and that was probably my fault. I worked her last week and she worked dynamite so I was confident in her today. She's such a consistent horse, I'm glad it worked out today.”
My Mertie paid $69.40 to win, $14.40 to place, and $7.40 to show. Rounding out the top three was post time favorite Hotshot Anna who paid $2.80 to place and $2.40 to show. Third was #4 Heavenly Hill who paid $5.60 to show.
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