Vault goes last-to-first to win Belmont G2 Ruffian for Cox

Vault goes last-to-first to win Belmont G2 Ruffian for Cox
Photo: Susie Raisher/NYRA

Vault capitalized on a patient ride by jockey Joel Rosario, rallying from last-of-6 to overtake Water White from the outside in deep stretch before powering home a 1 3/4-length winner in Sunday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Ruffian for fillies and mares 4-years-old and up going a one-turn mile at Belmont Park.

Vault, a Pennsylvania bred trained by Brad Cox making just her second career graded stakes start, was unhurried breaking from the inside post, content to let Gibberish lead the field through the opening quarter-mile in 23.57 seconds and the half in 47.24 over the fast main track.

Taking back under Rosario, Vault saved ground entering the turn as 6-5 favorite Lake Avenue temporarily took command over Water White. Nearing the top of the stretch, Rosario tipped out his charge, as Gibberish and Water White were kept to the inside and Lake Avenue pressed on from the outside.

Vault found a seam between Lake Avenue and Water White, splitting the contenders in surging to the front. Water White, encouraged by jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr., gamely pursued Vault, but the 5-year-old Jump Start mare pulled away in a final time of 1:35.81 to notch her second consecutive win.

“She was a little slow out of there,” Rosario said. “Brad said to let her be comfortable where she was and come with a run and she did. She was pretty amazing.

“I was trying to stay inside, keep away from the dirt [kick back] and save some ground,” he added. “It looked like maybe I could go through inside, but then maybe not. So, I looked to go in between or maybe outside. When they split, I just went right in the middle [inside of Lake Avenue]. It was perfect.”

Owned by Kueber Racing, Barlar, Madaket Stables and Little Red Feather Racing, Vault entered off her first win of her campaign with a 1 3/4-length score against allowance company going 1 1/16 miles on March 27 at Oaklawn Park.

Her first foray over Belmont’s Big Sandy was just her second career stakes appearance and first since a sixth-place effort in the Grade 3 Molly Pitcher in July at Monmouth Park. She shipped in from her base at Churchill Downs and impressed her connections in her New York debut.

“They had her down in Kentucky and it took us a while to figure her out, but now it looks like we got the wheels spinning finally and she showed it today,” said Dustin Dugas, assistant to Cox. “The guys in Kentucky had her ready to roll. I’ll talk to Brad and let him decide where we go next. He’ll sit down with the partners and figure out a game plan from there.”

Vault, the 3-1 choice, improved to 7-6-2 in 21 career starts. She returned $8.80 on a $2 win wager.

EV Racing Stable’s Water White, trained by Rudy Rodriguez, bested Our Super Freak by a length for second.

“I got a perfect trip,” Ortiz, Jr. said. “She got through on the inside and did everything right. We just got beat today. I was happy with it.”

Lake Avenue, Saguaro Row and Gibberish completed the order of finish that saw a finish of 1-thorugh-6 in program numerical order.

The 45th running of the Ruffian is named for the five-time Grade 1-winner and 1976 Hall of Fame inductee who was trained by Frank Whiteley, Jr. Ruffian, the 1974 Champion 2-Year-Old Filly and 1975 Champion 3-Year-Old Filly, broke down in a match race against Kentucky Derby-winner Foolish Pleasure in 1975. She is buried in the Belmont infield.

Live racing at Belmont resumes Thursday with a nine-race card that features a 3:05 p.m. Eastern first post.

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