Union Strike entered the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante Stake off a second-place finish in a maiden race, but emerged a big winner Labor Day weekend. That victory was notable for many reasons.
The bay filly with a big white blaze was the first graded stakes winner for her sire, Union Rags, whose first crop raced this year.
Union Strike also defeated American Pharoah’s full sister American Cleopatra, who was sent off the 8-5 favorite. Union Strike, with Martin Garcia up, had only one horse beaten through the first half mile, but mowed them all down with a powerful run to score by two and a quarter lengths in 1:23.22 for seven furlongs. She had finished second to American Cleopatra going five and a half furlongs in her maiden debut.
Union Strike was purchased for $375,000 at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s April 2016 Two-Year-Olds In-Training Sale by Ruis Racing.
Union Rags and the rest of the Ruis Racing-owned horses recently moved into the barn of Craig Dollase. At age 27 in 1998, Dollase became the youngest trainer to saddle a Breeders' Cup winner when Reraise dominated the field in the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs.
Ruis Racing is a new entity comprised of former jockey Mick Ruis Jr, and former trainer Mick Ruis Sr. Ruis Sr. had a small string in Southern California and his son rode 454 winners before retiring from the saddle.