ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, IL – Trainer Michele Boyce’s honest, hard-trying veteran My Mertie finally graduated at the graded stakes level when she swept past the favored Hotshot Anna late to win Saturday’s $100,000 Chicago Handicap (G3) at Arlington.

Belmont Park Picks

Breaking from post 2 at 33/1 odds under Carlos Marquez, Jr., My Mertie took back while Student Body and Annathela dueled through opening fractions of :22.60 and :45.30. Beginning to rev up from the rear while racing through the far turn, My Mertie emerged onto the front stretch full of run and began chasing after new leader Hotshot Anna. Though she was the 3/5 bettors’ choice, Hotshot Anna was making her first start in nine months, and in the late stages of the race, that became abundantly clear.

My Mertie shot past her favored foe inside the final 1/16 before crossing with a 1 1/4-length advantage in a final time of 1:22.44 for the 7-furlong sprint over the fast synthetic surface.

“Last time, I rode her off of that layoff since October,” said Marquez, Jr. “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.”

Hotshot Anna was 2 3/4 lengths clear of Heavenly Hill for second. Always Believe took fourth ahead of Excessivespending, while behind them came a weakened Annathela, a non-factoring Babybluesbdancing, and an eased Student Body to complete the order of finish.

Tough Irma was a late stewards scratch.

Horse Racing Picks

My Mertie’s win was her first since taking an allowance event here last September 2 and improved her career record to 31-8-7-7. The Illinois-bred 7-year-old daughter of Magna Graduate has now earned $295,729 for co-owners Oak Rock Racing, Terry Biondo, and CherrywoodRacing Stables.

“What’s funny is when Mertie first started racing, she was a front-running sprinter,” Boyce said. “We brought her here last year and she broke bad and ended up coming from dead last to win. Ever since then, that has been her style and it’s working for her.”

My Mertie returned $69.40 to win, $14.40 to place, and $7.40 to show. Hotshot Anna brought back $2.80 to place and $2.40 to show, while Heavenly Hill paid $5.60 to show.