Plainsman, Wondrwherecraigis square off in G3 Bold Ruler Handicap

October 29, 2021

ELMONT, N.Y. – Shortleaf Stable’s two-time graded stakes winner Plainsman will make the trek back to the Empire State when taking on a field of eight assembled for Sunday’s 45th running of the Grade 3, $200,000 Bold Ruler Handicap for 3-year-olds and upward going seven furlongs at Belmont Park.

The Bold Ruler headlines Sunday’s card, which will also include two divisions of the $100,000 Pumpkin Pie at seven furlongs over Big Sandy for fillies and mares.

Due to significant rainfall from a coastal storm that impacted Long Island Tuesday and Wednesday, a trio of turf stakes initially slated for Sunday – the $150,000 Zagora, a 12-furlong test for fillies and mares; the $100,000 Chelsey Flower at 1 1/16-miles for juvenile fillies; and the $100,000 Awad at 1 1/16-miles for juveniles – have been re-scheduled for the following weekend.

The Awad will be brought back on Friday, November 5 for a stakes-laden card that will also feature the $100,000 Atlantic Beach at six-furlongs on turf for juveniles; the $150,000 Tempted at one-mile over Big Sandy for juvenile fillies; and the $200,000 Ticonderoga, a 1 1/16-mile turf test for state-bred fillies and mares which was re-scheduled from Saturday’s Empire Showcase Day card.

The Chelsey Flower will be brought back on Saturday, November 6 for a bumper card that includes the Grade 3, $150,000 Turnback the Alarm Handicap at nine furlongs for fillies and mares; the $100,000 Stewart Manor at six furlongs on turf for juvenile fillies; and the $200,000 Mohawk, a 1 1/16-mile turf test for state-breds 3-years-old and up initially slated for Empire Showcase Day.

The Zagora will return for the Sunday, November 7 card – Closing Day of the Belmont fall meet – joining the Grade 3, $150,000 Nashua at one mile for juveniles.

Plainsman, trained by Brad Cox, captured the Grade 3 Discovery at Aqueduct during his sophomore campaign in 2018 over graded stakes winner Title Ready and Belmont Stakes runner-up Gronkowski. The 6-year-old Flatter bay arrives at the Bold Ruler off a sharp one length triumph in the Grade 3 Ack Ack on October 2 at Churchill Downs, recording a career-best 100 Beyer Speed Figure.

Sporting an accomplished ledger of 25-8-6-3 with a field-best bankroll of $729,207, Plainsman has won four of his last five starts all over different ovals. Following an allowance optional claiming score on April 15 at Oaklawn, he upped his game to stakes level with victories in the Jim Rasmussen on June 4 at Prairie Meadows and the Michael G. Schaefer Memorial five weeks later at Indiana Grand Race Course. 

Plainsman boasts a record of 3-1-0-1 over Big Sandy, including an allowance score in September 2018.

“He’s been doing great after the Ack Ack. He seems to like the track up at Belmont, so it made sense to ship him up for this spot that’s a little easier,” Cox said. “We’re taking things one race at a time, but he’s been in great form this year and has always proven to be versatile.”

Carrying 123 pounds as the field high weight, Plainsman will break from post 3 under Joel Rosario.

Trainer Brittany Russell will saddle graded-stakes placed Wondrwherecraigis, who captured the restricted Tale of the Cat in August at Saratoga two starts back.

Owned by Michael Dubb, The Elkstone Group, Madaket Stables and Bethlehem Stables, Wondrwherecraigis crossed the wire first last out in the Grade 3 Frank J. DeFrancis Memorial Dash on September 18 at Pimlico, but was disqualified to second-place for drifting out into Jalen Journey at the sixteenth-pole.

In addition to his Saratoga stakes victory, Wondrwherecraigis was a two-time allowance optional claiming winner this year at Pimlico.

“He’s had a good year, especially winning at Saratoga,” Russell said. “Many of us could argue that he deserved to stay up in his last race. It was a bummer because the horse deserved a graded stakes win. Hopefully, this time around, he can show that he belongs in a graded stakes.”

Luis Saez, who piloted the 4-year-old Munnings gelding to victory in the Tale of the Cat, will be back aboard from post 7. He will carry 120 pounds.

Gold Square’s Wendell Fong [118 pounds] arrives off a nearly seven-month respite while making his debut for trainer Chad Summers. The 5-year-old son of Flat Out was second in the Grade 3 Tom Fool on March 6 at Aqueduct where he made up considerable ground in the stretch to finish 3 ½ lengths behind winner Chateau. Wendell Fong was victorious in his 2021 commencement, capturing the Fire Plug on January 16 at Laurel Park.

Breaking from post 5, Wendell Fong will be ridden by Jose Lezcano.

Red Oak Stable homebred Bal Harbour [118 pounds] will attempt to overcome a 17-race losing streak for trainer Gregg Sacco. Although winless since capturing the Gio Ponti in November 2018 at Aqueduct, Bal Harbour has consistently made good showings at a high level the past few years, adding nine graded stakes placings since his last coup.

Manny Franco will ride Bal Harbour from post 2.

Completing the field are Lil Commissioner [post 1, Kendrick Carmouche, 117], Drafted [post 4, Dylan Davis, 116], Continuation [post 6, Irad Ortiz, Jr., 116], and Amatteroftime [post 8, Paco Lopez, 116].

The Bold Ruler honors the 1957 Horse of the Year and Champion 3-Year-Old, who captured 11 of his 16 starts that season, including the Wood Memorial, Flamingo, and Preakness Stakes. Bold Ruler built a larger legacy as a stallion and is still regarded as one of the most prolific sires of the modern North American thoroughbred. In addition to siring 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat, Bold Ruler went on to become a prolific sire-of-sires. American Classic winners such as Seattle Slew, Foolish Pleasure, Dust Commander, Cannonade, Spectacular Bid, Swale, Risen Star, A.P. Indy, Bernardini, Rags to Riches, Orb and Tonalist are all direct paternal descendants of Bold Ruler.

The Bold Ruler is slated as Race 7 on Sunday’s nine-race card. First post is 12:35 p.m. Eastern. 

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Belmont Park Press Release

Photo: Plainsman, (NYRA Photo)

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