Of the seven horses headed postward in the $100,000 Bold Ruler Handicap (gr. III) at Belmont Park May 10--from the lightly-raced Lucky Island to the hard-knocking Gold and Roses--every one looks like a legitimate contender.
Going into the six-furlong event with the most impressive recent performance is Team Solaris Stable’s Executive Fleet. The 5-year-old son of Northern Afleet took a huge jump in class when he ran second by a half-length to Bustin Stones in the seven-furlong Carter Handicap (gr. I) April 5.
That effort for trainer Linda Rice followed back-to-back wins in mid-level allowance events going six furlongs. Executive Fleet, bred in Florida by Norman Merlet out of the Executive Order mare Saralina Jo, has been on top of his game in the past three starts after beginning the season with a sixth-place finish in a Jan. 17 allowance race. He last worked four furlongs in :47.51 at Belmont Park May 1, an effort that was seventh-best of 66 at the distance on the day.
Also second in a recent stakes event was S.S Atkins’ Man of Danger. The 6-year-old Tiger Ridge gelding has been knocking on the door in his past two attempts at Aqueduct. He missed the March 8 Toboggan Handicap (gr. III) by three-quarters of a length to Sir Greeley, and was second by a length to Lord Snowdon in the Jan. 26 Paumonok Handicap. Those runner-up efforts followed a Dec. 28 allowance score at the New York track. Man of Danger was bred in Florida by Gary Pickel out of the Copelan mare Cope Lady.
Henry C. Gregory’s Gold and Roses is yet another runner to enter the Bold Ruler off a runner-up performance in black type company. The 6-year-old Gold Token gelding was most recently second in the March 18 Bensalem Stakes at Philadelphia Park, that effort following a score in Aqueduct’s Feb. 16 Hollie Hughes Handicap.
Callmetony, the oldest horse in the field, has back-to-back allowance victories under his girth in recent starts. Trainer Bruce Levine gives the 7-year-old Runaway Groom gelding his first shot at stakes company after 51 starts at allowance and claiming levels. Callmetony has been a consistent performer since May of 2007, with five wins from 10 starts since then. Only one fourth-place finish came among those trips, the other resulting in two seconds and two thirds.
The youngsters in the field, Lucky Island and Forefathers, are each seeking their first graded score. Shadwell’s Lucky Island, a 4-year-old son of Lucky Roberto running for Kiaran McLaughlin, has two frontrunning allowance scores to his credit. Zayat Stables’ Forefathers, a 4-year-old Gone West colt trained by Bill Mott, was fourth in the Commonwealth Breeders’ Cup Handicap (gr. II) at Keeneland April 12.
Breaking from the outside is Karen and Mickey Taylor’s Council Member, a 6-year-old son of Seattle Slew whose last performance was an eighth-place finish in the San Simeon Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Santa Anita April 19. The David Hofmans trainee hasn’t scored a win since August of last year, when he took a seven-furlong allowance race at Saratoga.
$100,000 Bold Ruler Handicap (gr. III, Race 8, approximate post 4:43 p.m.), six furlongs for older horses, dirt
PP, Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Man of Danger, 115, John Velazquez
2. Callmetony, 114, Edgar Prado
3. Lucky Island, 115, Alan Garcia
4. Forefathers, 115, Kent Desormeaux
5. Executive Fleet, 115, Charles Lopez
6. Gold and Roses, 114, Rajiv Maragh
7. Council Member, 115, Javier Castellano