Steve and Brandi Nicholson and Sandra Sexton's homebred Red Ruby put on a dominating performance in Friday afternoon's Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico, clearly relishing the sloppy conditions as she splashed home a 4 3/4-length winner. The 3-year-old Tiznow filly was racing for the first time since March 10, but extended her record to three wins from five starts for trainer Kellyn Gorder. Ridden by Paco Lopez, the 5-2 second choice Red Ruby completed nine furlongs in 1:50.17. Coach Rocks checked in second, while the late-running Indy Union was third. Race-favorite Sara Street finished fourth.
“We knew she liked the off going,” Gorder said. “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 just took her out there and jogged her right off the straight the right way and let her slow gallop around the backside and the turn and let her go through her gears, up to third gear, and shut her down. I think that might have helped her. She was really good in the paddock. She was kind of pushing the pony around and was a little nervous but then she would walk a little while and settle.”
Goodonehoney was squeezed back a bit at the start, and C. S. Incharge had to check hard in the first sixteenth of a mile. Both Red Ruby and frontrunner Coach Rocks broke well, but Coach Rocks had the inside advantage and grabbed the lead into the first turn. Red Ruby was content to wait under Lopez, hovering about a length off the leader in second, while Tell Your Mama, Sara Street and Mihrab made up the first half of the field.
Lopez was patient in second, tracking fractions of :23.28 and :47.95, then asking Red Ruby for just a bit more as they began to bend through the far turn. As had been done throughout Friday's card, Coach Rocks' jockey Luis Saez stayed several paths off the inside rail, pushing Red Ruby out that much more, but the pair would turn for home on even terms.
As soon as Red Ruby switched leads, Lopez began looking over his shoulder in both directions. The filly cruised away from her rivals with ease, flying under the wire a 4 3/4-length winner. Coach Rocks was clearly second best in the slop, while a belated run down the center of the track pushed Indy Union up into third under the wire. Sara Street finished fourth, and Goodonehoney, very wide on the far turn, was fifth.
“They told me to come from a little behind, not too close, but she broke very good,” Lopez explained. “I put her second and she was very comfortable. I waited for her until the three-eighths, I looked and no one was coming. I said, 'I got to go,' and she finished very well today.”
Bred in Kentucky by her owners, Red Ruby won two of her first three starts, including the listed Martha Washington over a sloppy Oaklawn track. The filly finished fourth in the G3 Honeybee, and a longer stretch between races saw her dominate the Black-Eyed Susan. Overall, Red Ruby's record stands at three wins from five starts for earnings of over $280,000.
“Jockey) Paco (Lopez) had her really relaxed out there on the outside,” continued Gorder. “When he started looking around where everyone else was, I was confident. I've had good luck with Paco and he's kind of got that style that would fit her. He takes that long hold and just raises his hands up their neck and I figured she might like that.
“The ultimate goal would be the Alabama. How we get there, I'm not sure.”
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