Rule pulls away late to take the Monmouth Cup Stakes.

Rule pulls away late to take the Monmouth Cup Stakes.

Ryan Denver/EQUI-PHOTO

Rule Launches Season with Monmouth Cup Score

First start of the year a winning one for 5-year-old July 7 in grade III stake.

Rule made his 5-year-old debut a winning one July 7 in the $200,000 Monmouth Cup Stakes (gr. II) at Monmouth Park, sitting just off a dawdling early pace before drawing off under jockey Joe Bravo to get the job done in the one-mile test (VIDEO) .

The son of Roman Ruler had not raced since a seventh-place finish for WinStar Farm in the Hawthorne Gold Cup Handicap (gr. II) in October of 2011. He held off a late run from 2011 Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) winner Flat Out, who was 1 1/2 lengths back after bobbling at the break and rallying late to earn the place in a field of five older horses.

Second at the start and kept in that position by Bravo, Rule raced between horses while an unhurried Sloane Ranger went a quarter in :25.43 and a half in :49.72. Rule's stablemate, 7-5 favorite San Pablo , came up three-wide on the first turn after bumping with Cactus Charlie at the start but weakened approaching the stretch.

That was when Rule was asked for run. He pushed a head in front after three quarters, battling to the lead to draw clear driving.

"He ran big, real big," said Anthony Sciametta Jr., assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher. "He looked like he was on the engine the whole way. He was just waiting for Joe to turn him loose. San Pablo didn't break well because he's usually at the front or on the pace. He got caught stalking horses. The jock got him outside, but it didn't matter because it looked like he was all out at the three-eighths pole."

"He came out of the gate with running on his mind," Bravo said. "I don't care how long the layoff, this horse was ready to go the minute the gates opened. He was doing it very easy, all the way down the backstretch. Todd had him ready to run and I just steered him around the track." 

Rule returned $7.40, $3.20, and $2.80, while Flat Out paid $2.80 and $2.20, and Slone Ranger brought $3.80. San Pablo and Cactus Charlie completed the order of finish. Ponzi Scheme scratched.

A Kentucky homebred out of the Personal Flagmare Rockcide, Rule improved his record to 6-2-5 from 16 starts, with earnings of $1,139,700.