LOUISVILLE, KY – Morsches Stable’s Gentle Ruler extended her in streak in her stakes debut, outkicking the heavily-favored Gaining in deep stretch to steal Saturday’s $100,000 Keertana Overnight Stakes at Churchill Downs.
Breaking from the far outside post 6 under Chris Landeros at 7/1 odds, Gentle Ruler quickly settled to run two-wide in midpack before entering the far turn for the first time. Meanwhile, Over Thinking set the opening pace through fractions of :25.35., :52.05, 1:17.92, and 1:42.99 for the opening mile while Gaining kept close watch along her right hip.
Entering the far turn for the second time, Gentle Ruler began advancing three-wide along Gaining’s outside, and by the top of the stretch, it quickly turned into a two-horse race. Jockey Florent Geroux put Gaining to a long drive the length of the stretch, but inside the final 1/16 of a mile, Gentle Ruler was able to edge clear for the win. The Ian Wilkes trainee hit the wire with a 3/4-length advantage in a final time of 2:31.32 for the 1 1/2-mile marathon event over the firm turf course.
“We got a great trip this afternoon sitting off the slow pace,” Wilkes said. “I think the key was Chris having her a bit closer today and we were able to reel in (Gaining). She’s just getting things going in her career and has really started to figure things out.”
Though unable to maintain her brief lead, the 1/5 bettors’ choice Gaining was 5 lengths clear of the rest of the field. Lacustre languished as far back as 9 lengths early on before picking off tiring horses in the stretch to finish third. Peru finished fourth, while Room to Finish and an empty Over Thinking completed the order of finish.
Gentle Ruler’s win was her third straight, following a maiden-breaking victory at Gulfstream Park in March and an allowance score at Keeneland in April. The 4-year-old daughter of Colonel John didn’t find the winner’s circle until her 12th start, but her record now stands at 14-3-3-5 with $220,053 earned.
“This horse keeps improving in every start,” Landeros said. “I thought she may have just needed some confidence and she got that when she broke her maiden at Gulfstream two starts ago. Since then, she’s really turned things around. She never ran poorly in any of her starts, but she just struggled breaking her maiden. We had a perfect trip behind the slower pace.”
Gentle Ruler returned $17.60 to win, $4.80 to place, and $3.40 to show. Gaining brought back $2.10 to place and $2.10 to show, while Lacustre paid $5.60 to show.