West Coast distaff handicap leader Riboletta will concede from eight to 12 pounds to her six rivals when she goes to post as the 125-pound highweight in Saturday's $250,000 Ruffian Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont Park. The Eduardo Inda trainee has won four straight races, including the Clement L. Hirsch Handicap (gr. II), which she won despite a slipped saddle.
"She got better with each start since we've had her," Inda said. "She was incredible at Hollywood, winning three races very impressively. I feel that she belongs with Beautiful Pleasure and Heritage of Gold."
Ruffian Handicap starter Lu Ravi, meanwhile, has quietly had a career year, earning $871,000 while winning three of six starts and finishing on the board in the other three. She brings a three-race winning streak into the 1 1/16-mile Ruffian, a streak which includes wins over Tap To Music, Bella Chiarra, and the recently retired Silverbulletday. Prior to her current streak, she finished second to Heritage of Gold on two occasions, including the Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I). Trained by Carl Bowman, Lu Ravi will carry 117 pounds in the Ruffian while breaking from post six under Jerry Bailey.
Lu Ravi, however, is unraced since winning the 1 1/4-mile Delaware Handicap (gr. III) in July, and it did take the 5-year-old A.P. Indy mare a couple of starts at the beginning of the year to reach her top form.
"I want her to move forward off this race," Bowman said. "I think the best thing for her is to peak her at the Breeders' Cup. I don't think this will be her best race, but hopefully we designed it this way."
The field for the one-turn 1 1/16-mile Ruffian will consist of:
1--Pentatonic, Robbie Davis, 113
2--(E)Finder's Fee, John Velazquez, 114
3--Riboletta, Chris McCarron, 125
4--Gourmet Girl, Victor Espinoza, 114
5--(E)Country Hideaway, Mike Smith, 114
6--Lu Ravi, 117, Jerry Bailey
7--Houdini's Honey, Garrett Gomez, 113(E)--Coupled entry