Gentle Ruler dominates Keeneland’s Dowager

Keeneland’s recap of Sunday’s Dowager Stakes:

Chris Landeros guided Gentle Ruler to her sixth victory this year in Keeneland’s Grade 3 Dowager. Coady Photography

LEXINGTON, KY (Oct. 20, 2019) – Morsches Stable’s Gentle Ruler shot to the front at midstretch and easily held off Elysea’s World (IRE) by 2 ½ lengths to win the 28th running of the $125,000 Rood & Riddle Dowager (G3) for fillies and mares before a Sunday afternoon crowd of 14,735.

Trained by Ian Wilkes and ridden by Chris Landeros, Gentle Ruler covered 1½ miles on a turf course labeled as firm in 2:31.95. It is the first victory in the race for Wilkes and Landeros.

“She’s really special to me,” Landeros said after winning for the sixth time this year on Gentle Ruler, including a victory in Kentucky Downs’ $500,000 Ramsey Farm Stakes. “This is what we look forward to. Horses like her get your juices flowing early in the day. She’s special.”

Beach Flower led the field of 12 through fractions of :26.10, :52.42 and 1:18.16 with Sea Dream (BRZ), Touriga (BRZ) and Decorating in closest pursuit and Landeros giving Gentle Ruler a ground-saving trip near the back of the pack.

At the head of the stretch, Sea Dream and Decorating emerged on top while behind them, Gentle Ruler moved off the rail into the three path, collared the leaders at the eighth pole and drew clear for the victory.

“I knew we were going a little slow (early in the race),” Landeros said. “When I crossed the finish the first time (past the tote board), I took a peek over my left (shoulder) and I saw the :26 and change and I thought I better start creeping up a little earlier today. She’s so game. Ian (Wilkes) has her primed and ready every time. Thankful to the owners for the opportunity. When you ride a horse like her, it makes my job a lot easier.”

The victory was worth $75,000 and the Keeneland sales graduate’s earnings rose to $718,453 with a record of 18-6-3-5. The triumph was the sixth in the past seven starts for the 4-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Colonel John out of the Cozzene mare Winikins.

Gentle Ruler needed 12 starts to win a race, though she had three seconds and five thirds during that span. Asked about the turnaround, Wilkes said: “Maturity. Simple thing as maturity. The filly as a 4-year-old has grown up. Before, she was always quirky, wouldn’t go to the track without a pony. This year, she’ll go to the track without the pony, and she’s just grown up.

“She’s done for the year now. We’ll bring her back next year, and we’ll give her a shot at some better company. I just didn’t think she was quite ready this year. She’s doing really great, but next year we’ll give her a shot and see how good she can get. We’ll let her dictate everything.”

Gentle Ruler returned $6.20, $3.20 and $2.80 as the slight favorite over Elysea’s World, who returned $3.60 and $2.80 under Javier Castellano. Decorating, who finished another 1¼ lengths back in third under Feargal Lynch, paid $9.20 to show.

Get Explicit finished another neck back in fourth and was followed in order by Touriga, Ambitious Moon, Lemoona, Over Thinking, Sea Dream, Vevina, Icy Calm and Beach Flower.

Racing resumes Wednesday with an eight-race program that begins at 1:05 p.m. ET. Keeneland’s Fall Meet runs through Saturday.

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Jennie Rees