The popular racing mule Black Ruby got back on the winning track Sunday at Stockton, Cal., but the star may have added a serious rival in the process.
The Mary and Sonny McPherson-owned Black Ruby broke sharply on the lead for jockey Ryan Morris and enjoyed a half-length advantage close to home in the 350-yard dirt test. But the 11-year-old had to give it everything she had to hold off 4-year-old Sarah Nelson, closing strongly on the outside, by a neck. Taz, who had beaten Black Ruby by a nose in their last encounter June 1, was third, 3/4 of a length behind.
The concern for Black Ruby trainer Ron White is whether his star will be able to hold off her new challenger, who had an eight-race winning streak snapped, when they face off at the regular 400-yard distance.
Black Ruby notched her 53rd victory from 61 recognized starts and earned $3,925, pushing her career bankroll to $197,125.
The 1-2 favorite in a field of eight, she paid $3, $2.20 and $2.10. Sarah Nelson returned $2.40 and $2.10. Taz's show was worth $2.10.