Keeneland September Grad Union Strike Takes G2 Gallant Bloom H.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Union Strike found her way back to the winner's circle on September 23 in Belmont Park's Grade 2, $300,000 Gallant Bloom Handicap, her second start since transferring to trainer Steve Asmussen.

The 4-year-old Union Rags filly debuted with Asmussen in the Grade 1 Ballerina Stakes, where she ran late to grab fourth. The race before she ran third in the Grade 3 Chicago Handicap with owner Mick Ruis as the trainer. His daughter Shelbe Ruis was the first to train Union Strike, who broke her maiden at 2 in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante. She had two more juvenile starts with Craig Dollase as trainer before debuting at 3 to win the Santa Paula Stakes with Mick Ruis conditioning her. 

“Today, she gave a top effort and what else can you say? That's why Steve [Asmussen] is a Hall of Fame trainer,” Ruis said. “He's trained three Horse of the Year [winners] and it makes it fun for us to come out and not have to be stressed out and train [her] every day. I have a lot of things going on and I'm sure my daughter in California is real happy, because she had a Grade 1 win with Union and we're just happy to be here.”



With Jose Ortiz in the irons, Union Strike broke near the back in the Gallant Bloom, with Kirby’s Penny setting fractions of 22.57 and 45.09 up front. Ortiz saved all the ground on the rail and was able to squeeze through an opening, running down the pacesetter and others to her outside to win for the first time in over a year.
With Jose Ortiz in the irons, Union Strike broke near the back in the Gallant Bloom, with Kirby’s Penny setting fractions of 22.57 and 45.09 up front. Ortiz saved all the ground on the rail and was able to squeeze through an opening, running down the pacesetter and others to her outside to win for the first time in over a year. 

“I didn't break quite well but she's a filly who always come from off [the pace]. I just wanted to follow the horses and as we got closer to the quarter-pole, I saw an opening near the rail, so I went there,” Ortiz said. “I knew the filly in front [Kirby's Penny] was going to have some run today, I rode her a couple of times before. Thankfully, it opened up for me. “I think she didn't like when I whipped her, and when I stopped whipping her in the last sixteenth, she really took off.” 

The 6 ½ furlongs was completed in 1:15.24, with Your Love, Kirby’s Penny and Still There crossing the wire next. Owned by Mick and Wendy Ruis, the Gallant Bloom was the third win in 11 starts for Union Strike, with the victory pushing her earnings to $537,625.

Union Strike was offered by Hidden Brook at the 2015 Keeneland September Yearling sale. She was the second Hidden Brook yearling grad to score a stakes victory on September 23 at Belmont along with Fifty Five, winner of the John Hettinger Stakes. Fifty Five was also raised at Hidden Brook Farm and graduated from the 2015 Fasig-Tipton October Yearling sale.

-edited from www.horseracingnation.com