ARCADIA, Calif. (Sept. 29, 2017)–Owner/trainer Mick Ruis got off to a good start on Friday, opening day of Santa Anita’s 19-day Autumn Meet, as he won three out of the first five races on the nine-race card. In the opener, his 3-year-old gelding Bacoli pulled off a modest upset, winning at odds of 5-1 under Israel Ocampo and returning $12.80 to win.
That was only the beginning however, as Ruis Racing’s Image of Joplin was an easy 2 ¾ length winner of the second race under apprentice Austin Solis. Off at 3-1, Image of Joplin, a 6-year-old California-bred gelding by Southern Image, took a nosedive in class from $32,000 claiming in for a $16,000 tag and paid $8.40.
Although Ruis’s well fancied Heir of Storm ran a disappointing fourth at 8-5 in the third race, his 2-year-old maiden Warrior’s Lullaby outgamed favored Amazon Currency in a thrilling stretch drive to win Friday’s fifth by 1 ½ lengths under Edwin Maldonado. Making his second career start, Warrior’s Lullaby, who took a steep drop in class from maiden special weight into a maiden $50,000 claimer and was off at 5-1, paid $13.80 to win.
Although Ruis was elated to get off to such a hot start at the new meeting, he left little doubt that his primary objective at the moment is Saturday’s Grade I, $300,000 FrontRunner Stakes, as his Grade I winning Bolt d’Oro looms the horse to beat as the 2-1 morning line favorite.
“I usually run my horses over their head, but today we ran them with their ‘friends,'” quipped Ruis. “Seriously, I’ve got a bunch of babies ready to come in and we need to make room at the barn. I just hope I’ve got one more win left tomorrow.”