RukenRuken rolled into Kentucky off a win in the March 4 Santa Anita Derby. But the question remained: How would the California-bred colt take to competition outside the Golden State?Ruken, who made his 13 previous starts at Del Mar, Hollywood, and Santa Anita, was put to the test against one of the divisional heavyweights, the previous year's champion 2-year-old male Successor, at Keeneland in the Spendthrift purse at seven furlongs April 15. The 7-2 second choice behind odds-on Successor, Ruken narrowly passed the test with a nose victory. Lou Rowan's homebred was put to the test again in the April 29 Stepping Stone purse at seven furlongs opening day at Churchill Downs a week before the Run for the Roses, but against a weaker field than what he faced at Keeneland. The 2-5 favorite against five rivals, Ruken won by 2 1/2 lengths, thus ensuring a measure of support on Derby Day.Sent off the 9-2 third choice, Ruken failed to create much excitement during the running of the 1 1/4-mile classic and finished eighth behind upset winner Proud Clarion. Ruken did not run in the Preakness or Belmont Stakes, both won by Damascus, and was returned to California.
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