Morning line favorite #3 Royal Flag may be the most talented horse in this field, but I doubt this Ruffian is the ultimate goal for her. She’s just starting off her 6-year-old campaign, likely using this as a prep for a race like the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps. I expect her to come running late, but a mile isn’t her ideal distance and there’s very little pace in here to set up her late run.
I find it interesting that Chad Brown has also entered #4 Search Results in this race, and it may be a good sign that she’s running back on relatively short rest following a poor return effort in the Distaff Handicap. She just never traveled like herself that day, and if she’s going to bounce back this seems like a perfect spot in which to do it. A mile is her best distance and she has the perfect running style to stalk right outside the leaders. I didn’t put her on top, but do think she’s dangerous.
My top selection in the Ruffian is #2 LADY ROCKET. Her effort in the Grade 1 Madison off the bench was a lot better than it looks. That was a wicked early pace that completely fell apart in the late stages, as the two runners who were trailing early passed the entire field to complete the exacta. She showed that she’s capable of handling a mile in the Go For Wand last year. I don’t necessarily expect her to repeat the huge speed figure she earned at Aqueduct that day, but she has plenty of other strong races in her past performances. John Velazquez figures to send her to the front, and I think she can take them all the way.
Win: #2 Lady Rocket, at 8-5 or greater