The Ruffian Handicap (Grade 2)- $250.000 Purse
BEL- For Fillies and Mares Four Years Old and Upward
One Mile on the Dirt
May 13, 2017
On a rain soaked day in New York, the virtual grounds crew did a fantastic job keeping the main track in great condition, even though the same would not be true for the turf course. The track was fast, and the field of six scheduled to run in the Ruffian would be able to do so. The top story heading into the race was J R Velazquez looking to win his fourth Ruffian in a row, but that would not pan out today. Instead, it would be the least experienced filly of them all, Honest Chai, winning the race in just her third career start. Trainer Mb Stables has done a great job with her, being patient, and here he shows why he is still the best trainer in the game. While the jockey streak is over, a trainer streak begins as this is Mb’s second win in a row in the Ruffian. Aboard the winner was R Bejarano, who won the race in 2010. Congratulations! The time of this victory was 1:35.33, the slowest of the four races run with the exact same conditions, but likely that is completely attributable to the track variant. Here’s how it played out!
(1/4 Mile- :23.26)- J R Velazquez sets his sights on the four-peat right away and guns Frenched Rose out of the gate for Maxmillion Farm. He opens up a lead of about two lengths as they head down the backstretch. Behind him are the two Mb Stables, Drill and Honest Chai running side by side, and El Gran Regret hangs with them for Night Mare Racing. The post-time favorite, Aldonza is four lengths back for John Henry here, and that gets her supporters a little concerned because she is usually closer to the front. Instinct Champion (TwinTowersRacing) can see them all in front of her, six lengths back.
(½ Mile- :46.76)- It’s still Frenched Rose leading the way as she runs a very consistent second quarter of the race. There is no change in the gap to second, but Honest Chai starts to look eager and not at all intimidated by being the least experienced one in the field. Her stablemate, Drill, is keeping pace with her around the turn but Honest Chai seems to have the better lane between the two of them to get by Frenched Rose. El Gran Regret lost about a length to the Mb horses as they moved around the turn, and neither Aldonza nor Instinct Champion were gaining ground.
(Top of stretch, 1.5 to go)- For most of the way around the turn, Frenched Rose continued to look sharp while on the lead, but about midway through and approaching the exit, Honest Chai begin to claw into her lead with every stride. By the time they hit the top of the stretch, it was the young four year old who now had poked a head in front. Some room opened up for Drill while along the rail, and she was wise to take it, but lost about a length to her stablemate. Frenched Rose was still second for now, but seemed to be in trouble. El Gran Regret had no response around the turn, and Aldonza prepared to make the pass for fourth, but had some work to do if she wanted to get closer. Instinct Champion closed the gap from seven lengths out to four and a half.
Finish (1:35.33)- Honest Chai, while running in the third lane, had to work hard with every stride to stay in front of Frenched Rose and get the win. She showed a lot of heart, and if her career is just getting started, then we’ll be hearing her name a lot more often in the future. Frenched Rose valiantly battled most of the way. Drill never really challenged for the top spot in the stretch, but did get by Frenched Rose to complete the 1-2 finish for Mb Stables. Instinct Champion was good in the stretch, and with another furlong, she may have made the top horses sweat it out too, but instead it just gets her fourth. Aldonza was a fifth place disappointment who never got into it, and El Gran Regret faded to the back.
About the winner: Honest Chai, trained by Mb Stables and ridden to victory by R Bejarano, is a four year old filly by Proud Chai and out of Honestly (Red Rioja). She was bred in Ontario as a third quarter two year old by Mb Stables, and they have been together throughout. Congratulations to the connections! It is her second win in just three career starts, and her career earnings sit at $161.400. The future should be bright.
|##||Horse Name||Owner Name||Jockey||Odds||Fin||Time||SRF|
|Honest Chai||Mb Stables||Bejarano R||3.30||11/2||1:35.33|
|Drill||Mb Stables||Albarado R J||1.70||21||1:35.45|
|Frenched Rose||Maxmillion Farm||Velazquez J R||4.85||31/2||1:35.67|
|Instinct Champion||TwinTowersRacing||Pennington F||46.05||41/2||1:35.80|
|Aldonza||John Henry||Ortiz I Jr||1.70||5no||1:35.92|
|El Gran Regret||Night Mare Racing||Rosario J||56.35||6||1:35.94|
Time: :231 :463 1:102 1:351
$2 Mutuel Prices:
|2 – Honest Chai||8.60||3.80||2.70|
|1 – Drill||3.10||2.40|
|6 – Frenched Rose||2.90|
$1 Exacta: 2 – 1 Paid 14.60
$1 Trifecta: 2 – 1 – 6 Paid 41.10