'Ruler' took less traveled road to Belmont

Updated: June 12, 2011, 2:15 AM ET
By Claire Novak | Special to ESPN.com

When a horse wins or runs well in a Kentucky Derby prep race, the natural thing is for its connections to think of roses. They think of red ones, specifically, those sewn into a glorious blanket, handed to the victorious jockey in bouquets that weigh more than him, petals scattering around Churchill Downs like confetti, and a return to the postrace interview room after racing's greatest moment.

If you don't win or run in the Derby, the next plan is the Preakness Stakes, two weeks down ...

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