The Bold Ruler (Grade 3)- $200.000 Purse
AQU- For Three Year Olds and Upward
Six Furlongs on the Dirt
October 27, 2023
It’s time to take a look at the highlight of the day on Friday at AQU, which is the 19th running of the Bold Ruler, which is a six-furlong sprint. The race has gone back and forth over the years, with most editions of the race occurring at BEL, but on three previous occasions, it has been here at the Big A (2009, 2019, and 2022). It was simply a smaller $100.000 Grade 3 to begin and has never seen a purse level higher than the present day $200.000. Distance has not been constant either, as it has gone back and forth between six and seven furlongs, and that’s true for either track that it has been held at. The conditions for this race are the same as they were last year, when Electric got the win for Angelos Stables, the second consecutive win for that trainer here. Electric won’t be here, as he likely has bigger plans next week. Angelos will not have an entry here to try and extend his streak, but the gate is otherwise full to capacity. Let’s meet our runners now!
#1- Street Edge (Fractious, ridden by J Alvarado)- Fractious may own the top sprinter in the game right now with Retaliate, but that did not stop him from spending $100.000 on a horse that would probably be seen as a project. Street Edge had a strong 2022, and ran in the BC Sprint that year, but in 2023, he has been winless. Prior to the sale, he was also struggling mightily, so Fractious has his work cut out for him. Street Edge did run in an open allowance here last month, and was third, and now gets a chance to show his old form. He’s had quite a bit of them lately, however.
#2- White Fury (Paradise Stable, ridden by E Cancel)- A veteran of 40 career races, most of them had been on the turf before the trainer opted to bring him to the main track for the start of this, his six-year-old season. He’s been steady in those nine starts, only winning once but hitting the board seven times. The victory came back in March, but the more meaningful race to look is no further back than his last start, where he ran third in the Grade 3 Vigil Stakes at WO a month ago. It was a steady outing that earned him a 99 SRF, so he is still getting it done, and that should carry over into the Bold Ruler.
#3- Blamethespeedparty (Martyparty, ridden by J J Castellano)- This gelding by Blame is no stranger this kind of Grade 3, making five starts in them since New Year’s Eve. Unfortunately for the trainer, the results have been hit and miss, but does include a win in the Whitmore Stakes at OP in March, where he earned a 101 SRF. He simply did not follow that up effectively, though was not terrible at the same time. That got him a chance to run in the Grade 1 Vanderbilt Handicap, where the good side may have come out, but was still just fifth against elite company. He certainly has it in him but is a tough one to pick.
#4- Tko (Axeman, ridden by I Castillo)- He’s had a great career, winning close to $1,500.000 for his career, and has had a solid 2023. He hasn’t run in as many graded stakes this year as he is used to, though performed well at the ungraded level and won the $100.000 Rumson at MTH two starts back. That sent him to the Grade 2 Phoenix at KEE in an effort to qualify for the BC Sprint, but after being behind at the start, he could only get up for fifth. It did get him a 100 SRF, so this veteran should not be ruled out. Not putting him on top, but I do think he cashes a check.
#5- Lennon (Arindel, ridden by J A Gomez)- In July, Lennon scored an impressive come from behind win in the Grade 3 Smile Sprint that earned him a start four weeks later in the Vanderbilt Handicap at SAR. In a good news, bad news result, he only placed eighth, but was only beaten by a length. There would not be much in the way of good news in the Phoenix, where he was entered next, as he was again at the back, but did not make any sort of move and needed to settle for a ninth-place finish. If nothing else, he needs an effective bounce back and maybe just a bit of racing luck.
#6- Categorical Maybe (Asgar, ridden by J L Ortiz)- Broke his maiden in February of this year and has gradually been moved up in class over the course of the year. In August, he captured the $100.000 Jersey Shore, a race that did only draw a small field of five, but with that, it was off to the Grade 1 Jerkens Memorial. Maybe the rain had a lot to do with it, but he was quite poor in that one. Last month, he ran in an optional claimer at PRX, and ran second, but that’s enough to give the trainer confidence to give him a shot here.
#7- Rush (D J C Racing Stables, ridden by J R Martinez)- In April, Rush broke his maiden at PRX, and once he figured out how to win, he certainly learned that he liked visiting the winner’s circle after a race. He’d go on to win four out five while being second in the one race that he did not win. He’s been moved up the class ladder during that time, and his win in the $70.000 Bud Special at ALB at the start of the month gives him this well-earned graded stake debut. In preparation for the race, he turned in a bullet work here on the 19th, so the trainer should be feeling good about his chances.
#8- Penalty Shot (Maxmillion Farm, ridden by K Carmouche)- When we last saw Penalty Shot, it was in the $300.000 Louisville Thoroughbred, where he finished second to R Lopez, a horse that went on to win the Grade 2 Phoenix that a few of these last ran in. Penalty Shot has been lightly raced this year, making only four starts, but has two wins and two seconds during that span of time. The biggest win was the $125.000 Hall Memorial at ELP in July. He’s a well accomplished horse, and I have to wonder why we have not seen him more this year, but I do think his effort in the Louisville Thoroughbred makes him a top choice in this field.
#9- Chai On The Storm (Wood Duck Stables, ridden by D Davis)- A lightly raced horse, comparatively speaking to the rest of these. It will be just his eighth career start, but he has been able to win four of them. He’s primarily been taking care of business against WV-Breds at CT, and while that’s good and all, there’s a big difference between the stretch at AQU and the CT bullring. But Chai On The Storm was just fine here, running in an optional claimer, and winning for his first unrestricted victory and his fourth in a row. He’s earned his chance to run against graded company, but this is a big-time test for him.
#10- Fit To Fight (Spb Racing, ridden by G G Richards)- Claimed for a mere $7.500 in April and has certainly paid dividends since then. Since then, he has raced six times and won four of them, highlighted by the $100.000 Speightstown Sprint at LS in May. After a couple of wins in overnights, Fit To Fight did battle in the Grade 2 SA Sprint Championship and led most of the way before having to settle for second last month. In the Bold Ruler, his form could not be much better coming into the race, and he had an impressive work here on the 9th.
#11- Shoulders (Wood Duck Stables, ridden by I Ortiz Jr)- This is not a horse that we have seen much of this year. He raced on New Year’s Eve in the Grade 3 Harlan and struggled quite a bit. That dud led to a long layoff, and he would not return to the track until June, where he won an optional claimer at LS. Even that was not enough to get the trainer’s confidence in him fully back, as it would be another three months until we saw him again, which was here in an open allowance that he won. Now, Shoulders is sent right back out there to take another shot at a big, graded win.
#12- Papa Nature (Night Rider Stables, ridden by T McCarthy)- You have to go further back in this one’s past performances to find races to be excited about. Right now, Papa Nature doesn’t seem to be at his best, though he has still been decent enough. After running a distant ninth in the Grade 1 Foster, Papa Nature has picked up a couple of fourth place checks, coming in the Iselin Stakes and the Vosburgh, so we can expect him to have a shot at repeating that, but he’s got some good company to knock off if he wants to return to the winner’s circle.