By Jon Forbes | 10/14/2010 03:30 PM ET
Ruthenia has a high bar to clear if she wants to duplicate the success achieved by her full-sister, but an impressive debut at Belmont Park is a pretty good start.
Despite her pedigree, the daughter of Pulpit was dismissed at 20-1 on Monday in a one-mile event on Belmont’s Widener turf course, and the full-sister to the 2005 Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks winner Rutherienne made her doubters pay by drawing off under Alan Garcia’s hand encouragement to win by 3 ½ lengths.
Ruthenia, who covered the distance in 1:37.40 and ran the final quarter mile in a snappy 23.34 seconds, becomes the latest horse to join the New York Watch, which profiles up-and-comers that have recently cleared the maiden ranks at Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga.
“There was no reason for her to have been a long price,” trainer Christophe Clement said of Ruthenia, who races for her breeder, Virginia Kraft Payson. “Good for the guys who picked her! She had trained well and had shown a good turn of foot in the morning. Even though she is smaller, she moved well.”
Clement and Payson were also the team behind Rutherienne, who won 10 stakes in her career, including the Sugar Plum Time, Grade 3 Sands Point, Grade 3 Lake George, and Grade 3 Noble Damsel Handicap in New York. Off the board just four times in 20 starts, Rutherienne earned nearly $1.3 million.
“Rutherienne was also small,” said Clement when asked to compare Ruthenia to her older sister. “She was sometimes difficult to train, as some of the Pulpits are.”
Under consideration for Ruthenia’s second start is the Good Mood Stakes over 1 1/16 miles at Belmont on closing day, October 31.
“There’s a stakes on the last weekend at Belmont, but it comes up quick,” said Clement. “We’ll see how she comes out of this.”
Ruthenia is out of Ruthian, who won the 2001 Firecracker Handicap, a listed stakes at Mountaineer, for Payson. In addition to Rutherienne and Ruthenia, Ruthian has produced Big Wig, a stakes-placed runner who has earned $147,151 to date.
Many of the industry’s brightest stars embarked upon their careers at the NYRA tracks, including a number of recent Triple Crown race winners. Super Saver, Big Brown, Jazil, Birdstone, Funny Cide, and Empire Maker are all among the Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes victors that kick-started their careers at Aqueduct, Belmont Park, or Saratoga. The list also features recent champions Gio Ponti and Indian Blessing; brilliant fillies Flashing, Little Belle, Music Note, and Devil May Care; Quality Road, triumphant in the 2010 Metropolitan Handicap and Woodward; and Afleet Express, winner of this year’s Travers.
Members of the New York Watch honor roll include Champagne winner Uncle Mo, Three Chimneys Hopeful victor Boys at Tosconova, and Breeders’ Futurity hero J. B.’s Thunder. Other graded stakes winners on the New York Watch list are Eightyfiveinafifty, Position Limit, and Winter Memories.