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Jockey John Velazquez and Pool Land return after winning the Ruffian Handicap
The last stakes race of opening weekend is the $300,000 Ruffian Handicap (G1), a 1 1/16 mile trip around one turn of the main track whis is also a prep race for the Breeders' Cup Distaff. Just five older fillies and mares went to the starting gate in this year's renewal, with Take D'Tour sent off as the 3-2 favorite despite finishing a well-beaten fourth in the Go For Wand last time out. She did win the Shuvee and the Ogden Phipps at Belmont before the Saratoga loss. Pool Land was the 8-5 second choice off a third place finish in the Go For Wand after wins in the Allaire DuPont Breeders' Cup Distaff at Pimlico and the Doubledogdare at Keeneland. Last year's Kentucky Oaks winner Summerly was the 7-2 third choice, having won the Ashado Stakes last out in her first starts since finishing second in last year's Coaching Club American Oaks.
Pine Island and Teammate duel down the stretch
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 2 Pool Land Velazquez 5.20 2.80 2.60 1 Take D' Tour Velasquez 2.80 2.50 4 Miss Shop Jara 3.00 Winning Time: 1:41.81 $2 Exacta 5-4 15.60 $2 Trifecta 5-4-3 99.50
Pool Land takes her walk down Victory Lane. Winning jockey John Velazquez said, "I was riding (Cornelio Velasquez's) tail the whole time and his horse (Take D'Tour) was breathing pretty hard and the more I got closer to his tail the more he'd go. Mine was just handling it pretty easily. I had a long hold of her and she was going really good. By the 3/8 pole when I saw (Miss Shop and Summerly) come in, I give her a little bit and she went on."
Pool Land in the winner's circle. Tristan Barry, assistant to winning trainer Todd Pletcher said that Pool Land is more likely to train up to the Breeders' Cup Distaff, but could prep in the Beldame. "I would think Todd would probably keep her fresh for the Breeders' Cup."
Pool Land in the post parade.
Second place finisher Take D'Tour heads out of the paddock before the race. David Fawkes, trainer of runner-up and beaten favorite Take D'Tour said, "She ran real big. She was pressured the whole way. She was very game. It looked like she tried to come back at Pool Land late. The pace was a little quicker than I would have liked to have gone. We'll stay here and run back in the Beldame."
Third place finisher Miss Shop returns after the race.
Fifth place finisher Summerly looked good before the race but tired in the stretch.
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