Pretoria Light, who led most of the stretch, dead-heated with Sweet Ransom for second, while Beautiful Venue was another 1 ½-lengths back in fourth. The final time for 7 ½ furlongs was 1:28.16.
Rutherienne, a 3-year-old daughter of Pulpit , is trained by Christophe Clement, who picked up his second graded stakes victory of the day at Calder. One race earlier, Clement’s Bayou’s Lassie scored in the Stage Door Betty Handicap (gr. III).
Rutherienne can now stake a claim for divisional turf honors with her fifth victory during the campaign, four of them coming in graded stakes competition. The bay filly won the Aug. 18 Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT) before getting slightly injured in the Sept. 8 Garden City Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Belmont, in which she finished 10th. In that one, she sustained a cut on the left hind leg. It prompted Payson and Clement to give her 40 days off.
In the Genter, Rutherienne and jockey Rene Douglas sat between horses sixth in the backstretch while Beautiful Venue and Pretoria Light set the pace through a half mile. The opening half went in :45.87.
Pretoria Light eventually wore down Beautiful Venue and carried a 1 ½-length advantage into the stretch, but Rutherienne was rallying to her outside. Sweet Ransom, under urging from Kent Desormeaux, was further back but also charging hard.
Closing ground with every stride, Rutherienne drew even near the sixteenth pole and finally made the front with only yards to go, despite a game run from Pretoria Light. Also fighting off Sweet Ransom to her outside, Rutherienne just stuck a nose in front at the wire.
“One of the tricks to riding on this turf course is taking what you get and making the most of it,” Douglas said. “That horse (Pretoria Light) was tough to catch the way she went out on the lead. We had good position down the backside and when I stepped on the gas she went right between horses, then we had to work hard to catch the leader.”
Clement said Rutherienne won despite still not at her best. ““The way the course was playing (speed), Rene put her a little closer to the pace than she usually is, which might have taken a little off of her closing kick, but she got the job done.
“She’s a very good filly and I didn’t really have her at 100% (fit) for this race, but she was able to overcome that. She’ll get some time off now until April, probably coming back at Gulfstream or Keeneland. The goals after that are the Just a Game (Handicap) at Belmont and the Diana at Saratoga, both grade one (races).”
Out of Rahy mare Ruthian, Rutherienne has now won three times on the Calder turf, as the first two wins of her career were in Florida. She is a spectacular 8-for-10 lifetime, having earned more than $620,000.
Going off as the even-money favorite, Rutherienne paid $4.60 to win. The exacta (8-1) with Sweet Ransom returned $10.20, while the exacta (8-11) with Pretoria Light was worth $33.40. The trifectas (8-1-11 and 8-11-1) were $103 and $141.80, respectively.