Red Ruby dazzles in G3 Delaware Oaks triumph
Red Ruby. Photo by Allison Janezic.
by Frank Vespe
In the paddock moments before Saturday’s 67th renewal of the $300,000, Grade 3 Delaware Oaks, trainer Kellyn Gorder was following his trainee Red Ruby around the Delaware Park paddock, shooting video of her on his Ipad.
And in the winner’s circle following the Oaks, he stood with a smile on his face and the floral blanket draped over his arm.
“Just keepsakes,” he explained. “I just know she’s special. They don’t come around like this very often.”
In between, the three-year-old Tiznow filly was special and then some, romping to a stunningly easy 13-length victory in 1:42.41 for the 1 1/16 miles. It was the third stakes win of her brief, six-race career, the second in graded company.
“We came in here pretty confident,” Gorder said.
And with good reason.
Red Ruby went off 3-5, and her main rival here appeared to be the Grade 2 winner Coach Rocks. But Red Ruby had dusted that runner by four lengths in May in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan.
That day, she had stalked Coach Rocks’s early pace before powering past her. This time, there was no waiting around.
“Today she was good in the gate,” said winning rider Paco Lopez. “She broke perfect today.”
Breaking from the far outside in the two-turn test, she ceded the early lead to major longshot Prospective Lady — she went off at 71-1 — but stayed a close up second, while a bit keen to go.
Finally, after not quite three-quarters of a mile had gone, go they did. Red Ruby surged to the front and led by a length-and-a-half after six furlongs in 1:11.02.
By then Coach Rocks had slipped into second, but she never presented a threat to the winner. The margin was five lengths leaving the furlong grounds and kept widening to the wire even while Red Ruby drifted farther and farther towards the outer rail.
“She was looking for company,” said Lopez, who repeatedly showed his filly the stick in his right hand. “That’s why she came out a little bit.”
There was no company, inside or outside. The running time was the third fastest Delaware Oaks since 1997, when first contested at 1 1/16 miles.
Coach Rocks was second, fully eight more lengths ahead of Mo Shopping, the winner of the Light Hearted Stakes last month here, who nosed out Blue Union Rags for third.
“She’s getting better and better,” said Lopez of Red Ruby.
The win pushed Red Ruby’s career earnings to $438,000, and bigger paydays may beckon. Gorder, who trains her for Sandra Sexton and Brandi Nicholson, said the Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama Stakes August 18 at Saratoga is likely next on her dance card.
That race is contested at 1 1/4 miles, and, Gorder said, “The farther she goes the better.”
Red Ruby has made something of a habit of having pre-race antsiness, and today was no exception. In the paddock she was tossing her head about imperiously, and as the horses were leaving for the track forced her handler to give her a circle before heading out.
But while bettors might have thought that a negative sign, Gorder saw nothing to worry about.
“It’s not that she’s nervous; she’s not a nervous horse,” he explained. “She just wants to get it on.”