Sandra Sexton and Brandi and Steven Nicholson’s Red Ruby entered Friday’s $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2) at Pimlico off a more than two-month break, but that didn’t stop her from romping home an easy 4 3/4-length winner under jockey Paco Lopez.
The gray daughter of Tiznow broke from the one post and immediately settled into a stalking spot just outside of pacesetter Coach Rocks over the sloppy, sealed track. Biding her time in second through splits of :23.28, :47.95 and 1:12.78, Red Ruby engaged Coach Rocks rounding the turn. The leader carried Red Ruby wide into the lane but the sophomore miss continued motoring to claim command and draw off to finish 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.17.
Sent off the near 3-1 second choice, Red Ruby paid $7.80 for the win. Coach Rocks was best-of-the-rest, five lengths in front of third-placer Indy Union on the wire. It was another 4 3/4 lengths back to 5-2 favorite Sara Street in fourth, while Goodonehoney, Stakes On a Plane, Tell Your Mama and Mihrab completed the order under the wire. C. S. Incharge was eased in the stretch and walked off the track.
Red Ruby more than doubled her career earnings to $283,000 with this victory. The Kellyn Gorder trainee has racked up a 5-3-1-0 scorecard thus far, breaking her maiden at Churchill Downs in her second start last year and taking the Martha Washington Stakes over a sloppy, sealed track at Oaklawn Park to open her sophomore career on February 10.
Her connections planned on using the Oaklawn series of three-year-old filly stakes to get Red Ruby to the Kentucky Oaks (G1) on May 4 at Churchill Downs, and she next showed up to finish fourth in the Honeybee Stakes (G3) on March 10. The final race in the series, the Fantasy Stakes (G3), was on her radar, but minor cuts to her hind leg reportedly forced her to miss that contest.
Despite that, Red Ruby continued training for the Kentucky Oaks until, on April 29, Gorder announced they wouldn’t compete in the Run for Lilies and instead point for races later down the road. Later came sooner than expected as the gray lass showed up at Pimlico for the Black-Eyed Susan. Her next big target, according to Gorder, is the August 18 Alabama Stakes (G1) at Saratoga.
Red Ruby was bred in Kentucky by Hargus and Sandra Sexton and Silver Fern Farm LLC. She is out of the Rubiano mare Caroni, who is a half-sister to multiple Grade 2 hero Kashatreya. In addition to Red Ruby Caroni has also produced stakes winner Beautician, who ran second in the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) and Spinaway Stakes (G1); Grade 3 scorer Mo Tom, who finished eighth in the 2016 Kentucky Derby (G1) prior to taking the Ohio Derby by three lengths; and stakes heroine Bella Castani.
BLACK-EYED SUSAN QUOTES
Kellyn Gorder, trainer Red Ruby, winner
“We knew she liked the off going. 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.
“She broke really well. (Jockey) Paco (Lopez) had her really relaxed out there on the outside. 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.”
Paco Lopez, jockey Red Ruby, winner
“They told me to come from a little behind, not too close, but she broke very good. 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.
“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.”
Dale Romans, trainer Coach Rocks, second
“I thought Coach Rocks ran super. She ran a good race. She’s just going to get better and better and we’ll head to the Alabama (at Saratoga) next probably. That’s a good filly that beat us, but we’ll fight another day. I was real happy with her.
“She redeemed herself for the last race (seventh-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks). I knew she was better than that. She had a few little issues, but nothing major. She came back today and redeemed herself.”
Luis Saez, jockey Coach Rocks, second
“She ran pretty nice. The winner was tough. I was there, very comfortable. Right there, but when I tried to get some momentum, the winner was gone.”
Jose Ortiz, jockey Indy Union, third
“She ran pretty well. She closed from last and ran her eyeballs out to get third. The two fillies in front of me were clearly the best in the race.”
Dylan Davis, jockey Sara Street, fourth
“It was the surface for her. She hadn’t been on this before and that was the question coming in. I thought she’d go OK, but today she just had some trouble.”