Before everyone’s attention turned entirely to the Breeders’ Cup, there was something to warm the heart on a chilly Sunday at Belmont Park, when trainer Brittany Russell won her first Graded stakes the day before she was due to become a mother for the second time. The Bold Ruler was the race, and Wondrwherecraigis the horse who was also getting a Graded tag for the first time.
Where’s Craig? In the winner’s circle
What goes around, comes around, and what’s meant for you won’t pass you by. That’s how it was for Wondrwherecraigis, who finally got his dues paid in the feature Bold Ruler at Belmont Park on Sunday.
On his previous outing, the four-year-old son of Munnings had finished first in the Grade 3 Frank DeFrancis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park, but was demoted to second for minor interference in the closing stages. Some said that was a harsh decision, and perhaps it was, but compensation wasn’t long in coming. Wondrwherecraigis went gate-to-wire under Luis Saez at Belmont, nothing getting close enough this time for interference to be a factor, to earn his belated and deserved breakthrough at Graded level.
“That was awesome, and a great redemption from the disqualification in Maryland,” said trainer Brittany Russell, who was due to give birth to her second child the following day, and who was also winning her first Graded stakes.
“The whole team deserved it and he deserved it. The seven furlongs was a question, but it’s nice to find out he can do it. Luis did a beautiful job.”
Saez’s job was relatively straightforward once Wondrwherecraigis ($6.40) had broken quickly and taken the lead, setting steady fractions in a race reduced to seven following the scratch of Bal Harbour. Continuation loomed up as a potential threat as they left the turn, but Wondrwherecraigis had plenty left in the tank and he quickly wrapped the race up, rolling home by two and a quarter lengths from the staying-on Continuation, stopping the clock in 1:23 and two-fifths over a sloppy track.
The even-money favourite Plainsman was taken back on the turn as things got tight and never landed a blow, plodding on for third, beaten a further three and a half lengths.
Jockey Luis Saez said
“I took him away from the pony, and when he was in his stall, he broke pretty well,” said Saez. “The plan was to try to slow the pace early, so everything went according to plan. He controlled the pace, and when we came to the top of the stretch I felt like I had a lot of horse to finish with, and he responded really well.” Wondrwherecraigis was taking his record to six wins from ten starts, with four of those victories coming since May. The Bold Ruler was his first race beyond six furlongs, and Russell said that it was likely he would be kept to six or seven furlongs on his next start, seemingly ruling out a bid for the Grade 1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct in December