Riboletta Romps in Ruffian

Riboletta ran off to a 7 1/2-length victory over Gourmet Girl to take the $250,000 Ruffian Handicap (gr. I) for fillies and mares for her fifth straight victory. Ridden by Chris McCarron, the 5-year-old bay mare pressed the early pace set by Lu Ravi and Country Hideaway, then moved to the front on the far turn before pulling away with ease through the stretch. Her time for the 1 1/16 miles was 1:40.35 on a fast track.

"I didn't even touch her in the stretch," said McCarron. "She had some questions to answer today and she did it rather easily. Every time I ride this mare I look forward more and more to taking on Beautiful Pleasure and Heritage of Gold."

The winner returned $4.10, $3.10, and $2.70 as she earned $150,000 for owners Aaron Jones and Marie Jones. Gourmet Girl, ridden by Victor Espinoza, paid $8.70 and $4.80, while Country Hideaway, who held for third, 1 3/4 lengths back, paid $2.90 under Mike Smith. Completing the order of finish were Pentatonic, Finder's Fee, Lu Ravi and Houdini's Honey.

The win was Riboletta's 12th in 26 career races, and the winner's share of the purse increased her career earnings past the $1-million mark. Riboletta (Roi Normand--Joy Valley, by Ghadeer) is undefeated since finishing third in the $100,000 Miss America Handicap on turf at Golden Gate Fields in April. The Ruffian marks the fourth grade I win on the year for the Eduardo Inda trainee. Previously, she won the Vanity Handicap (gr. I), the Milady Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. I), and the Santa Margarita Handicap (gr. I). She was bred in Brazil by Haras Santa Ana do Rio Grande.

"The Beldame (Stakes, gr. I) should be a good race, but I'll have to talk to the owners before anything is definite," said Inda. (Chart, Equibase)