MONMOUTH CUP STAKES | PURSE: $200,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS & UP | GRADE 2 | 1 MILE
Saturday's Grade 2, $195,000 Monmouth Cup at one mile evolved into a quarter-mile dash to the wire after Sloane Ranger set a lethargic pace of :25 2/5 and :49 3/5. Possessing the quickest turn of foot was WinStar Farm's Rule, who seized control around the far turn and outsprinted his rivals to the wire under Joe Bravo.
Reaching the six-furlong mark in 1:14, Rule prevailed by 1 1/2 lengths at the finish in a time of 1:37 3/5 over a fast track. The Todd Pletcher trainee paid $7.40, $3.20 and $2.80 as the 5-2 third choice in a field of five.
Grade 1 hero Flat Out, making his debut for new trainer Bill Mott, was bottled up along the inside to the stretch, swung out, and ran on effectively to grab runner-up honors by a head over Sloane Ranger. It was 4 1/2 lengths back to 7-5 favorite San Pablo, who was three-quarters of a length up on trailer Cactus Charlie. Ponzi Scheme was scratched.
A son of Roman Ruler, Rule won three of five starts as a juvenile, including the Grade 3 Delta Downs Jackpot and the Jean Lafitte, both at Delta Downs. His sophomore campaign was a brief one, consisting of a three-length triumph in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis and a third in the Grade 1 Florida Derby.
Rule made eight starts last season, his only victory coming in the 1 1/8-mile Birdstone at Saratoga. He did finish second in the Grade 3 Hal's Hope and third in the Grade 1 Woodward, Grade 1 Donn Handicap and Grade 3 Salvator Mile. This win in the Monmouth Cup, Rule's first start since October, boosted his career earnings to $1,139,700 from a line of 16-6-2-5.
"He came out of the gate with running on his mind," Bravo said. "I don't care how long the layoff -- this horse was ready to go the minute the gates opened. He was doing it very easy. Todd had him ready to run and I just steered him around the track."
Bred in Kentucky by his owners, Rule was produced by the Personal Flag mare Rockcide, a half-sister to champion and dual classic winner Funny Cide. Also hailing from this family is multiple Grade 3 winner Belle of Cozzene.