Red Ruby Gets the Trip, Takes Black-Eyed Susan in Slop

Red RubyWith a dream trip on a surface she loves, the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2) could not have gone any better for Red Ruby May 18 at Pimlico Race Course.

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The only Black-Eyed Susan entrant with a stakes win on a wet track, the 3-year-old Tiznow filly raced just off early leader and Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) winner Coach Rocks through much of the 1 1/8-mile test, cruised to the front in the final turn, and easily kicked away from the field in the stretch to win by 4 3/4 lengths on a sloppy (sealed) track.

Paco Lopez, in the irons for the first time on the Kellyn Gorder trainee, confidently took a glance over both shoulders at the quarter pole, and the result was never in doubt after that. Red Ruby finished off the distance in 1:50.17, and Coach Rocks held for a clear second, with 11-1 longshot Indy Union third.

Fresh off of a more-than-two-month break after a fourth-place run in the Honeybee Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park—in which she was 10 lengths back through a half-mile—Red Ruby immediately got into striking position Friday, just behind fractions of :23.28, :47.95, and 1:12.78 through six furlongs, and waited for her cue from Lopez.

“They told me to come from a little behind—not too close—but she broke very good,” Lopez said. “I put her second, and she was very comfortable. I waited for her until the three-eighths (pole), I looked, and no one was coming. … I knew I had that much horse, and I was waiting for somebody to show up, but they never showed up, so I let her go.”

In her start before the Honeybee, she got a stalking trip in the Oaklawn slop during the Feb. 10 Martha Washington Stakes and performed similarly in a 2 1/2-length win.

“We knew she liked the off going,” said Gorder, who indicated Red Ruby’s summer race target would be the Alabama Stakes (G1) at Saratoga Race Course. “In the Honeybee, she got really hot in the post parade, so I trained her this morning. That’s just about the only thing I did different. Normally, I don’t do that. It depends on the horse. … I think that might have helped her.”

Bred in Kentucky by Hargus Sexton, Sandra Sexton, and Silver Fern Farm out of the Rubiano mare Caroni, Red Ruby has three wins from five starts and $283,000 in earnings for owners Sandra Sexton, Brandi Nicholson, and Steven Nicholson.

The Black-Eyed Susan score was the first graded win for Gorder since 2013, when he won the Jefferson Cup Stakes (G3T) with General Election.

Betting was practically even between four Black-Eyed Susan entrants. Sara Street was the slight 5-2 choice. Red Ruby was also 5-2, and both Coach Rocks and Goodonehoney went off at 3-1. Sara Street, the last-out Gazelle Stakes (G2) runner-up, finished fourth, but Goodonehoney, the previously undefeated Weber City Miss Stakes winner, was pinched at the start, advanced in the backstretch, then traveled severely wide in the second turn and ended up fifth.

“I thought Coach Rocks ran super,” said her trainer, Dale Romans. “She ran a good race. She’s just going to get better and better, and we’ll head to the Alabama next, probably. That’s a good filly that beat us, but we’ll fight another day.”

After Goodonehoney came Stakes On a Plane, Tell Your Mama, and Mihrab, to complete the order of finish. C. S. Incharge, Romans’ second entry in the race, was eased, did not finish, and walked off.