In defeating nine rivals in a talent-rich field, Rutherienne won for the ninth time in 11 career starts, and nailed down her sixth graded stakes while making her 4-year-old debut. The daughter of Pulpit had been idle since taking the Frances A. Genter Stakes (gr. IIIT) Dec. 29 at Calder Race Course.
Many of the top contenders in the Jenny Wiley were coming off long layoffs, including Canadian champion Sealy Hill, Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (gr. IT) winner Bit of Whimsy, and Matriarch (gr. IT) winner Precious Kitten, all who had yet to start in 2008.
Stormy West, going off at odds of 23-1, rallied to get second, just getting up to nip Lady of Venice. The final time for the 1 1/16-miles over a course rated "firm" was 1:44.76.
“I think she’s nine for 11 now. That’s what the good horses do: They win,” said trainer Christophe Clement. “We’ll see what Mrs. Payson (wants to do). Maybe the Gamely or Just a Game.”
Rutherienne waited patiently behind rivals for much of the trip down the backstretch, settling into ninth through a half-mile. Candy Ball, ridden by Jamie Theriot, was the leader, setting modest fractions of :25.24 and :50.59. Roshani, Bit of Whimsy, and Stormy West were also up close.
Gomez continued to save ground with Rutherienne and was still eighth after a pedestrian three-quarters in 1:15.22. It wasn’t until she came out of the turn that Rutherienne began to make her best run, as she moved into contention at the top of the lane.
It was inside the sixteenth-pole that the bay filly collared Roshani, who had taken the lead as the field made their way through the stretch. She was all out when hitting the wire.
“She traveled really well,” Gomez said. “Christophe did a tremendous job getting her ready. He gave me plenty of horse to have a trip with. She kept me fairly up in the race; she was keen. I was able to split horses turning for home. She came home really good for us.”
Out of the Rahymare Ruthian, Rutherienne was bred in Kentucky. The remarkably consistent filly has now won seven of her last eight starts, her lone setback coming in the Sept. 8 Garden City (gr. IT). Her spectacular 3-year-old season included five graded stakes victories.
Going off at 6-1, Rutherienne paid $14, $7.60, and $4.40. The exacta (4-6) returned $253.