Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Contact: Sean Morris
River Rocks hopes to break through in G3 Bold Ruler
ELMONT, N.Y. - Grade 2 Kelso Handicap runner-up River Rocks will seek his first career graded stakes victory in the Grade 3, $200,000 Bold Ruler Handicap on Saturday at Belmont Park.
The Bold Ruler, a seven-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up, is part of a 10-race program that also features the $100,000 Chelsea Flower Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at one mile on turf.
Since being transferred to trainer John Terranova for his 2014 campaign, River Rocks, the 2-1 program favorite, has been in career form. The 4-year-old son of Western Pride began his year with a facile score in a first-level allowance race on June 15 at Belmont, then unleashed two monstrous efforts at Saratoga Race Course when taking a pair of optional claimers, for which he earned Beyer Speed Figures of 105 and 107.
In his most recent start, the one-mile Kelso, River Rocks had no trouble transferring his Saratoga form to graded stakes company. The dark bay or brown colt vaulted from the starting gate and led the field through swift fractions while under pressure much of the way. The Terranova trainee put away odds-on favorite Itsmyluckyday turning for home, but was caught late by Vyjack and was beaten a length on the line.
"We were so proud of his effort [in the Kelso]," said Terranova, who trains River Rocks for James Covello, Michael Imperio, and Half Hollow Racing. "He was pressed to the quarter pole by Itsmyluckyday and Bradester, shook them off, but was caught in the last few jumps by Vyjack. He never gave up and never had a breather."
Terranova and River Rock's owners flirted with the idea of sending him to the Breeders' Cup, but ultimately felt the Bold Ruler was a better fit.
"We had all talked about [the Breeders' Cup], but he would have had to have been supplemented, so that was one factor that made it easier to stay home," said Terranova. "We could have gone in either the [six-furlong] Sprint or the Dirt Mile; I think seven furlongs is a very good distance for him."
Joel Rosario has the mount on River Rocks, and the duo will break from post 6.
Trainer Tom Albertrani will send out Romansh, who has shown flashes of ability throughout his career and is listed at 7-2 on the morning line. The son of Bernardini won last year's Grade 3 Discovery Handicap by 9 ¼ lengths and earned a 110 Beyer for the effort, and in his last one-turn race finished third in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap behind Palace Malice and Goldencents on June 7 at Belmont. In his past three starts, however, Romansh has finished off the board in the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap, Grade 1 Whitney, and Grade 1 Woodward.
Romansh, owned by Godolphin Racing, will be ridden by Jose Ortiz from post 2.
The normally reliable sprinter Confrontation will hope to rebound off a lackluster effort in the Grade 1 Forego on August 30 at Saratoga. Trained by Barclay Tagg for Eric Dattner and Harry Astarita, Confrontation won five of his first seven races and had not finished off the board before checking in ninth in the Forego - his first graded stakes attempt.
Joe Bravo will be aboard Confrontation, who sits at 6-1 on the morning line, and the pair will depart from the rail.
The 7-year-old veteran Cease, owned by Mr. Amore Stable, will rejoin graded stakes company on Saturday. The bay gelding finished third in the 2012 Woodward and contested last year's Grade 2 Breeders' Cup Marathon, but had been tailing off in 2014 before being claimed by trainer Jason Servis for $25,000 on August 6. In his first start with Servis, Cease finished second in an optional claimer on September 18 at Belmont, for which he earned a 101 Beyer.
Cease, 12-1 on the morning line, will be ridden by Manny Franco from outermost post 7.
Rounding out the field are Salutos Amigos, most recently fourth in the Grade 1 Vosburgh for trainer David Jacobson, Sage Valley, who won a pair of graded stakes in 2013 but has made only one start in 2014, and Joe Tess, third-place finisher in the Punch Line Stakes at Laurel Park in his latest outing.
The field for the Grade 3, $200,000 Bold Ruler Handicap: