After a wide, sweeping move coming into the Belmont Park stretch, Don Alberto homebred Rubilinda still had enough left to hold off late surges from Party Boat and Thais to win the $200,000 Pebbles Stakes for 3-year-old fillies Oct. 14.
The Chad Brown-trained daughter of Frankel raced in fourth during the early stages of the one-mile turf event before she circled the leaders and held on to win by a nose. It was her first win at a mile, after she took a six-furlong maiden race and the six-furlong Christiecat Stakes Sept. 8.
"We're thankful to come away with the victory," Brown said. "She ran well. She was still a little green there down the lane, switching leads and such. (Jockey Jose Ortiz) said, when he pulled her into daylight a little earlier than she had been, she was pulling a little bit, so she still has some learning to do, but she ran good."
Sylphide assumed the lead out of the gate, as Dynatail and Adorable Miss stalked the pacesetter. Rubilinda raced comfortably behind that pair in fourth, as the leader cut fractions of :23.03 and :46.46 for a half-mile.
As six furlongs went in 1:10.91, Ortiz moved Rubilinda four-wide around the turn, but was challenged late when Party Boat and Thais moved up on her outside. But Rubilinda wasn't done and she pushed forward to hit the wire first. She narrowly scored by a nose over Party Boat, with Thais a head back in third. The final time was 1:34.72 on the Widener turf rated firm.
Favored Rubilinda returned $4.40, $2.90, and $2.20 across the board.
"Stretching out to a mile has been a little complicated for me and her to get along, because she's going to be a little keen. She trains like that in the morning, a little keen too," Ortiz said of the lightly-raced filly. "Today she learned a lot of things. She's going to keep learning."
Bred in Kentucky, Rubilinda is the first foal out of the Invincible Spirit (IRE) mare Rubina, who was purchased by Don Alberto in foal to Frankel for $815,706 at the 2013 Tattersalls December mares sale.
Rubilinda, who was also her sire's first winner in the U.S., now has three wins and one second from four starts with earnings of $240,400. Brown is unsure what's next for his runner.
"I felt she could get a mile and she did," the trainer said. "I've never felt sure to campaign anything past a mile yet, but after today, I don't know. I'll keep all the mile races on the table and then look for her to get past a mile.
"But she has some things (to work on). ... So I'm not sure if she wants to go any farther if you held her under cover for longer. There's some things that maybe we can get an extra sixteenth out of her. We'll see."