Godolphin Racing's Buffum quickly moved to the front at the start of Belmont Park's Grade 3, $150,000 Bold Ruler Handicap on Saturday and held to score by 1 1/4 lengths under jockey Eddie Castro.
Trained by Tom Albertrani, the bay son of Bernardini set splits of :22 2/5, :45 1/5 and 1:08 4/5 while being tracked by Associate and Little Drama throughout. The trio circled the turn in tandem, but Buffum gutted down to pull out the win in a final fast-track time of 1:21 3/5 over Little Drama, who just got up to be a half-length clear of Associate on the wire.
"I had the No. 1 post position, which is a little bad for seven furlongs," Castro said. "I knew (Little Drama) would put pressure on me. Tom told me 'If he breaks good and you're in front, that's OK.' He broke good and put himself right there, it was the only choice. He ran good. It was a nice race."
Private Tale filled out the top four while Golddigger's Boy, Gallant Fields, 3-2 favorite Caixa Eletronica, Zero Rate Policy and Spring to the Sky completed the order of finish. Caixa Eletronica came in and bumped with his rivals to the inside when the gates opened, while Spring to the Sky went to his knees at the start before recovering to run in midpack on the backstretch.
Buffum was sent off the 4-1 fourth pick and paid $10.60, $5.50 and $4. The four-year-old earned his first black-type credit in this spot after four prior tries against stakes company, with the most recent of those coming as a sixth-place finish in the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap in his last appearance on July 7.
"It was just a matter of being patient with him. The timing was good, and he was doing so well coming into the race," Albertrani noted. "He definitely runs well fresh, and it was the right timing to lead him over.
"After the Suburban, we naturally were a little disappointed and we backed off him for a little while. We took him to Saratoga, and there was a minor foot issue with a quarter-crack we had up there, but there was no opportunity to run him. So we just waited for this."
While winning the Bold Ruler improved Buffum's career mark to 9-4-1-0, $241,800, it also set him up for bigger and better things.
"I would definitely consider the (Grade 1) Cigar Mile (on November 24 at Aqueduct). That would be our next goal," Albertrani said.
Bred in Pennsylvania by Brushwood Stable, Buffum was a $1.2 million Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Selected yearling. He is out of the dual stakes-winning Storm Cat mare Storm Beauty, making him a half-brother to Grade 2-placed multiple stakes queen Stormy West, Grade 3-placed Renaissance Lady and dual stakes-placed Value Stream.
Buffum's dam is herself a half-sister to champion sprinter Gold Beauty and Grade 2 winner The Prime Minister. Gold Beauty would go on in the breeding shed to produce noted sire and English Horse of the Year Dayjur as well as Grade 1 vixen Maplejinsky. That latter mare also found profound success once her racing career was over, foaling champion Sky Beauty and the dams of Breeders' Cup Distaff heroine Pleasant Home and dual Grade 1 king Tale of Ekati.
This female family also boasts Impeachment, third in the 2000 editions of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.