Friday, April 05, 2013


Lead: Janis Whitham’s 3-year-old Kentucky homebred colt Ruble rated comfortably in third down the backstretch of Friday’s third race allowance feature run at one mile on a ‘sloppy’ Gulfstream Park track, swung out around horses to take command in the upper stretch and went on to score by 1 ¾ lengths over Shadwell Stable’s Irsaal.

“I was concerned going into the race that he might be a little speedy crazy,” said jockey Joe Bravo, who was riding Ruble for the first time Friday. “He settled in nice and went on in the stretch. I think with more experience he’s going to be a nice horse.”

A roan/gray son of Exchange Rate, Ruble was making his fifth career start for trainer Ian Wilkes, but was saddled Friday by Wilkes’ mentor, Hall of Fame trainer Carl Nafzger. Following a dull sixth-place debut on Polytrack at Keeneland in October, Ruble finished second by a half-length at Churchill Downs and second again at Gulfstream on Jan. 27 before breaking his maiden last out here by 3 ¾ lengths going six furlongs on Feb. 23.

With his two wins at the meet, Ruble had better luck at the meet than Whitham’s 5-year-old Fort Larned, who lost his rider at the start of the Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2) here on Mar. 9 making his first start since winning the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Santa Anita on Nov. 3. Fortunately, the son of E Dubai came out of the ordeal none the worse for wear and is on target to return in the $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap (G1) at Oaklawn Park on Sat., Apr. 13.

Ruble paid $5.60 for $2 as the second choice in the field of six 3-year-olds and was timed the mile in 1:36:93. Glencrest Farm’s Doherty was the even-money favorite for trainer Todd Pletcher, but got off badly and had to settle for third, 1 ½ lengths behind the runner-up.

Who’s Hot: Leading jockey Javier Castellano accepted a trophy in the winners’ circle from track president Tim Ritvo after the third race for successfully defending his 2011-12 meet title this year. He had just finished third aboard favorite Doherty in that race, but did make four other trips to the winners circle on a rainy afternoon with winning rides aboard Tizzy Beter Run ($6.60) in the second, Scampering ($4.00) in the fifth, Angel’s Glory ($11.00) in the seventh and Sweet N Discreet ($4.80) in the eighth.

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