RAUKAPUKA RULER, BIT OF A LEGEND, WIN AT YONKERS
By Jeff Scott
Former Kentuckiana Group One performers, Raukapuka Ruler and veteran Bit Of A Legend, returned to winning form at Yonkers Raceway, New York, on Sunday (NZ time).
Raukapuka Ruler, formerly raced in NZ by Geraldine enthusiasts, the Colt 45 Syndicate, was first-up in New York for the Peter Tritton stable, settling third from the two barrier in a $US22,000 pace for top driver, Jordan Stratton.
He finished best over his final quarter in 27.3s to win by a length and a quarter in 1:53.1 (fifth), a useful debut on the half-mile at Yonkers, after winning his qualifier the previous week in 1:56.1 (fifth).
Fizzing, another former Kentuckiana Lodge stablemate, who did a good job in West Australia for the Greg and Skye Bond stable before being on-sold again to North America, was also first-up at Yonkers against Raukapuka Ruler, but was back throughout from a wide draw, finishing seventh for the Anita Vallee stable.
Raukapuka Ruler, after leaving Kentuckiana Lodge last December, won three of six Australian starts but could only manage 10th against the Grand Circuit horses when given his chance in the A G Hunter Cup at Meltion in February.
Now six, the gelded son of Bettor’s Delight and N 3YO filly 2600m record-holder Miss Elsie, paced a career best 1:50.2 mile first-up in New South Wales for the Tim Butt stable, on the big track at Menangle.
Raukapuka Ruiler was smart winning six of 20 NZ starts for $200,603 for the Cran Dalgety stable, including a brilliant front-running drive from Dexter Dunn to win the 2017 Northern Derby from late closer Ultimate Machete.
He also ran second to Ultimate Machete in the Group Two Vero Flying Stakes and fourth in Vincent’s record-breaking Group One NZ Derby (3:06, mobile 2600m), with Ultimate Machete and Eamon Maguire second and third.
Raukapuka Ruler concerned connections by switching off near the end when just holding Mongolian Hero in the 2018 Ashburton Cup (3:59, 3200m), then was gelded after a lack-lustre effort in the Central Otago Cup in attempts to help him re-focus at a racehorse.
However, he after failing to regain winning form in four subsequent NZ starts, he was sold to maxmise off-shore opportunities.
Raukapuka Ruler has now won 10 of 30 starts in three countries, for close to $250,000.
Meanwhile, huge earner Bit Of A Legend, after a year of minor setbacks during his 10-year-old racing, made the most of an improved two barrier in a $20,000 pace on Sunday, leading throughout for Jordan Stratton, in 1:53.
The Bettor’s Delight-Soky’s Legend entire drew clear by 2 1/4 lengths over his final quarter in 27.4s for his sixth win in 18 starts in 2019 for $87,700.
Until the end of 2018, the 2016 George Morton Levy winner, had won combined international earnings of $2,243,331, including $1.583,645 in North America, (according to USTA records), under the expert placing of Peter Tritton.
Bit Of A Legend paced a 1:49.4 (fifths) lifetime best at nine last year on a half-mile track in the United States.
He formerly was race-timed in a sensational 1:50.6 in NZ after having the tougher run when beaten half a head by Border Control in the 2013 Harness Jewels Emerald at Ashburton. He was also second to Border Control in the 201 NZ Derby.
Bit Of A Legend showed his class winning both the 2 and 3YO Australasian Breeders Crown Fianls at Metlton, and also the Listed $243,743 PGG Wrightson NZ Yearling Sales Open Pace at Addington for Cran, and driver, Dexter Dunn.
Sunday’s Yonkers programme also resulted in another USA win for former Allstars 2016 Miracle MIle winner, Have Faith In Me (1:47.5), the big-winning close relative of Christen Me.
Have Faith In Me, from the three barrier, trailed and finished best for Jason Bartlett to win by a length in 1:51.4 (ffifths) in a $35,000 preferred pace.
This as his ninth win in 27 starts, while he’s racked up nine placings, this year for $170,000 in earnings, and making a good return after an early setback on arrival in America in November, 2017.
Have Faith In Me, a brilliant winner of the 2014 NZ Sires Stakes 3YO Final at Addington, also won the 2015 NZ & Northern Derbys’, and the December 2015 Auckland Cup at four.
He preceded his major Menangle Miracle Mile triumph at four by winning the 2016 Group One 4YO Chariots Of Fire at Menangle with another fast mile in 1:48.8.
He’s only had 68 lifetime starts for 23 wins and over $1.6 million in lifetime winnings.
The Bettor’s Delight-Scuse Me gelded brother to champion mare Adore Me (1:47.7, 26 wins from 36 starts & $1.6 million) has a mile best in America earlier this year of 1:50 on a 1000m track.
Stand By Me a younger brother to Adore Me and Have Faith In Me, is also enhancing the family reord Stateside.
Sold affer winning once in five NZ starts at Cambrige last December for Pukekohe trainer, Brent Mangos, Stand By Me (now five) has taken a 1:51 record on a 1000m track, having won four of 19 US starts for the year for just over $US44,000.
Former Kentuckiana Lodge two-time Australasian Grand Circuit winner and 2014 Miracle Mile winner Christen Me (1:49.1, winner of over $2.6 million lifetime), is from Splendid Dreams, a 1:59.3 winning daughter of Dream Away and Scuse Me (1:53.5).
Scuse Me (BG’s Bunny-Super Smooth) was herself a NZ mile record holder, winning the 1998 Taylor 4YO Mile at Auckland (her eighth & final win from only 25 starts), when driven by Frank Cooney for breeder-trainer, Mark Purdon.
Splendid Dreams has left eight individual winners, also including champion mare Dream About Me (1:50.1, 25 win & $1.4 million), the big-winning Hands Christian (1:52.5, 13 wins & $330,824) and Aliante (1:55.9).