By Francis LaBelle Jr.

Justwhistledixie, the most accomplished of the field Sunday, proved to be a deserving favorite as she scored a 3 ½-length victory over Gnome’s Delight in the 32nd running of the $70,795 Ruthless Stakes for three-year-old fillies at six furlongs.

Owned by West Point Thoroughbreds and Lakland Farm, the Dixie Union filly overtook longshot Indian Rush, who had gone the first quarter in 22.41 and the half in 46.05 on Aqueduct’s fast inner dirt track. With jockey Rajiv Maragh in the irons, Justwhistledixie ran by her target and was never seriously challenged, as she completed the sprint in 1:10.81 for her third straight victory after two losses.

“It was a great ride by Rajiv today,” said Artie Magnusson, assistant to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. “We’re certainly happy to have [Justwhistleddixie] in the stable. Our goal is the Cicada Stakes in March (Grade 3, $100,000, March 14, six furlongs at Aqueduct) – there might be a chance she’ll run back once more, but the goal is the Cicada.”

Maragh said that the win, before 3,319 fans, was fairly straightforward.

“The trip was really pretty simple,” said Maragh, whose mount returned $2.80. “I was on the big favorite, she had a good post, and she has natural speed. The other horse rushed up to take the lead and that gave me the opportunity to use her as a target. Once she made the lead, the race was basically over. I put away the stick at the sixteenth pole, but she started looking at something, so I tapped her once.”

Gnome’s Delight held off the rest of the field for the place, and was followed by Ocarson, Unveil the Mask, Indian Rush and Could Be Us.

J.J. Cuvee was scratched.

RUTHLESS QUOTES

Artie Magnusson, assistant to winning trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, of favored Justwhistledixie (No. 3): “It was a great ride by Rajiv today. We’re certainly happy to have [Justwhistleddixie] in the stable. Our goal is the Cicada Stakes in March (Grade 3, $100,000, March 14, six furlongs at Aqueduct) – there might be a chance she’ll run back once more, but the goal is the Cicada.”

Winning jockey Rajiv Maragh: “The trip was really pretty simple. I was on the big favorite, she had a good post, and she has natural speed. The other horse rushed up to take the lead and that gave me the opportunity to use her as a target. Once she made the lead, the race was basically over. I put away the stick at the sixteenth pole, but she started looking at something, so I tapped her once.”