Bob Baffert has been talking up his exciting 2-year-old Roman Ruler for quite a while, and the colt justified all the high praise by winning first crack out in grand style at Hollywood Park on Saturday.
A son of Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Fusaichi Pegasus, the $500,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase was sent off as the 4-5 favorite. Breaking from the far outside in post 10 under Corey Nakatani, Roman Ruler tracked the early pace in fourth, while four-wide, then unleashed his move three-wide and quickly ran his opponents into the ground, drawing off to a four-length victory under a hand ride in a swift :57.27 for the five furlongs.
"He is amazing," Baffert said of the colt, who is owned by David Shimmon and William Bianco's Fog City Stables. "He never took a deep breath. He's even better looking than his sire, and has a great mind to go with it."
Roman Ruler went into the race off a series of sensational works, including a six-furlong drill in 1:11, the only work in which Baffert asked him to run.
Roman Ruler is out of the unraced Silver Deputy mare Silvery Swan, whose broodmare sire, Quack, still holds the fastest 1 1/4-mile time ever for a 3-year-old when he defeated older horses in the 1972 Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) in 1:58 1/5.
Baffert can't wait for next year's Kentucky Derby (gr. I) after failing to have a starter this year, the first time he's missed the race since 1995. It's still a long way off, but you can bet Baffert's sunglasses took on a rose tint after watching Roman Ruler on Saturday.