Trainer Eoin Harty didn't give up on Ruler's Court and the 2-year-old colt proved Harty's faith to be well placed with a 14-length triumph in Sunday's $250,000 Norfolk (gr. II) at Santa Anita.
The Darley Stud Management-owned son of Doneraile Court, ridden by Alex Solis and wearing blinkers for the first time, annihilated the Norfolk field in a stakes-record time of 1:41 1/5 for the 1 1/6 mile. He took two ticks off the record set by Roving Boy in 1983.
"I was hoping he'd run well," Harty said. I've always had faith in him.
"The blinkers really seemed to help. I think I'll leave them on."
After breaking his maiden in his debut June 11 at Hollywood Park, Ruler's Court was third at 2-5 to Perfect Moon in the Hollywood Juvenile Championship (gr. III). Most recently, he was fourth, 3 1/2 lengths behind Perfect Moon in the Best Pal (gr. II) at Del Mar Aug. 17. The Norfolk was his first attempt around two turns.
"I just had to hold on, that's all," said Solis following the 3,992nd victory of his career. "I was very, very impressed."
Harty said Ruler's Court would go next in the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) on the same track Oct. 25. Along with Cuvee, he becomes one of the Juvenile favorites after his smashing effort.
Ruler's Court was wide into the first turn but pulled into contention on the backstretch as Coldntight sliced out an opening quarter mile in :22 2/5 and the half in :45 3/5. Solis could hold Ruler's Court no longer and the strapping colt went to the lead at the start of the final turn and pulled away with every stride. By the time he completed a mile in 1:34 3/5, he was eight lengths clear of Capitano.
Capitano, ridden by Jose Valdivia Jr., was second by a length over Perfect Moon and Victor Espinoza, who finished third by 3 1/2 lengths over Del Mar Futurity (gr. II) winner Siphonizer. Concsecrate, part of the 2-1 favored entry trained by Bob Baffert was fifth. The other half of the entry, Odds On, was eased in upper stretch but walked off.
Solis won his fifth Norfolk.
A $400,000 Ocala Breeders purchase in February, Ruler's Court earned $150,000 for the victory. Douglas Arnold and Dr. Roy Sadovsky bred Ruler's Court, who is from the Copelan mare Future Guest, in Kentucky.
The 9-2 fourth choice paid $11.80, $7.20 and $5. Capitano returned $10.60 and $6.80. Perfect Moon's show was $4.60. The $2 exacta was worth $104.60.