$500,000 Ramsey Stakes:
It took Gentle Ruler 12 starts and more than a year and a half of competition to win her first race, but relatively little time to rise to the level of becoming a stakes winner at the $500,000 purse level.
Thursday on closing day of the RUNHAPPY Meet at Kentucky Downs, the filly did just that, winning the most lucrative race of her career, the $500,000 Ramsey Farm Stakes by a half-length over longshot Lantiz. The victory, her fifth of 2019, marked her third stakes triumph of the year, following earlier victories in the Grade 3 Robert G. Dick Memorial at Delaware Park and the Keertana Stakes at Churchill Downs.
Jockey Chris Landeros — Gentle Ruler (1st):
“There’s a little dogleg right there,” Landeros said of the move he launched with her in midstretch. “I knew if I had horse, I could split right through and she gave me a good run. I really thought she’d like the course. She’s so athletic, and very game.”
“She is the type of filly who always is going to give you 100 percent,” Landeros said. “She’s always going to give me a good run.”
“I’m glad you didn’t tell me before, because then the pressure really would have been on,” Landeros said. “I’m happy for him. He’s a great person, a great trainer. His team does a great job. He’s a hard worker. He deserves it.”
Trainer Ian Wilkes — Gentle Ruler:
“When she runs a mile or mile and a sixteenth, not enough turn of foot,” he said by phone. “But she has enough turn of foot in these long races.”
After a quiet first four days of the Kentucky Downs meet, two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Doug O’Neill waited until closing day and the meet’s final stakes race, to announce his stable’s presence. And did he ever.
O’Neill-trained runners Legends of War and Stubbins finished one-two in the Thursday’s Grade 3, $500,000 Nevada State Bank Franklin-Simpson Stakes, generating a handsome reward for his stable and those that backed his runners at the mutuel windows. 23-1 longshot Legends of War paid $49.40 to a $2 win ticket, and a $1 exacta with 10-1 Stubbins delivered a $218 return.
Jockey Rafael Bejarano — Legends of War (1st):
“This horse was definitely ready today,” Bejarano said. “He looked pretty sharp in the post parade, like he wanted to run. I knew there were a couple of horses who had more speed than I. But all day speed was holding, so I said, ‘I’m going to put him in the race.’”
Trainer Doug O’Neill — Legends of War & Stubbins (2nd):
“I probably made an error by stretching him out twice,” he said by phone. “Tried him a mile, get to know him more. He’s a one-turn specialist. Put a line through those two races. His previous wins were very solid. Raffy rode him with so much confidence.”
Legends of War now has earnings of $470,740 for owners C T R Stables, Qatar Racing and Steven Keh after snagging $288,300 from the $500,000 purse.
“I feel bad for Kelly and Jack McShane of McShane racing,” O’Neill said. “They’re great people, there today. He ran a winning race, he ran a dynamite race, and Legends of War had his own way on the front end. Very proud of how Stubbins ran and how Joel Rosario rode him.”
O’Neill said he was also pleased with the effort from runner-up Stubbins.
“I feel bad for Kelly and Jack McShane of McShane Racing,” he said of the colt’s owners. “They’re great people, there today. He ran a winning race, he ran a dynamite race, and Legends of War had his own way on the front end. Very proud of how Stubbins ran and how (jockey) Joel Rosario rode him.”