USA: Rookie Ruis downs Baffert for first Grade 1 victory

Bob Baffert: American Cleopatra was second for the trainer at Del Mar

PICTURE: Edward Whitaker ( Union strike gives rookie Ruis first Grade 1 victory
By James Burn 8:07AM 4 SEP 2016

Report: USA, Saturday

Del Mar: Del Mar Debutante Stakes (Grade 1) 7f, dirt, 2yo fillies

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Shelbe v Bob does not quite have the same ring to it as David v Goliath but there was something of a giantkilling at Del Mar on Saturday when Union Strike (Martin Garcia) provided 25-year-old trainer Shelbe Ruis with her first stakes win by downing American Pharoah's little sister American Cleopatra.

Trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, who expertly guided American Pharoah through his Triple Crown campaign last term, American Cleopatra beat Union Strike when the pair clashed at the track on their debuts in July, but the tables were turned on a memorable day for the rookie trainer.

Settled off the pace, Union Strike picked up well in the straight to win by two and a quarter lengths from her feted rival.

"I knew she could get there," said Ruis, whose emerging stable star could head to Santa Anita next for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, a race the brilliant Songbird won after taking the Debutante last year.

"The only issue was the gate issue," Ruis added, referring to Union Strike's slow start on debut. "She looked good this time. I think the outside post helped her. We thought she was a nice horse and she turned out to be."

Based at Del Mar, Ruis is backed by her parents Mick and Wendy and saddled her first winner in May when Rockport Babe struck at Santa Anita.

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