Robert Spiegel's homebred Ruff rallied from the back of the field of eight 2-year-old fillies to win the $111,300 Miss Grillo Stakes (gr. IIIT) by three lengths Sunday at Belmont Park. Under jockey John Velazquez, the 3-1 second wagering choice stopped the timer after 1 1/8 miles run in 1:49.79 over firm turf.
Daisy Dukes, racing beyond five furlongs for the first time, went to the early lead while pressed by Dream Wish, who would assume the lead on the backstretch. Those two continued to battle around the second turn as Medicine Bow moved up to challenge while three wide. Daisy Dukes regained the lead in the stretch as Ruff angled off the rail for running room. Once clear of traffic, Ruff unleashed a powerful run to win easily over Mystic Lady, who split horses in the stretch to finish second.
"We had a rough trip," said Jose Santos, jockey of Mystic Lady. "She never really got room to run but finished up well."
Medicine Bow was third, followed by Daisy Dukes, Fiddle, West Side Maria, Dream Wish, and Killistos.
"She broke a little funky but gathered herself up and was running comfortable down the backside," said Velazquez of the winner. "I had so much horse turning for home and once I got her to the outside she exploded."
Ruff returned $8, $3.50 and $3. Mystic Lady paid $3.20 and $2.60. Medicine Bow was worth $4.50 to show. The winning exacta combination returned $25.60.
The win is Ruff's third, and her first in a graded stakes. The David Donk-trained daughter of Clever Trick won for the first time in her turf debut -- her third career race -- and then won the Junior Champion Stakes at Monmouth Park. She entered the Miss Grillo following a third-place finish -- beaten by only a half-length -- in the Tippett Breeders' Cup Stakes at Colonial Downs. She earned $66,780 for the win to increase her earnings to $133,260 after six starts.
"Once we won the stakes at Monmouth, we had nowhere else to run her," said Donk. "So she ran at Colonial and there was really no pace in that race and she finished quickly. She proved herself today. She might run in the Miesque (Stakes, gr. IIIT, Hollywood Park). (Chart, Equibase