ARCADIA, Calif. (May 15, 2016)–Not only did 20-1 longshot Rockport Babe provide a stunning upset in Sunday’s first race at Santa Anita, the 3-year-old maiden filly by Rockport Harbor provided her 25-year-old trainer, Shelbe Ruis, with her first-ever win.
A native of Descanso, in east San Diego County, Ruis grew up in a family steeped in the horse business, as her father, Mick Sr., owned and later trained horses when she was a youngster, and her brother, Mick, (29), was a highly regarded apprentice jockey on the Southern California circuit 13 years ago.
Ridden by Fernando Perez, Rockport Babe showed good speed out of the gate going seven furlongs and easily kept 1-5 favorite Tryst at bay through the stretch en route to an authoritative 2 ¾ length win while covering the distance in 1:21.98.
“I’m just really excited about this,” said Ruis, whose first racetrack job came as a summertime pony rider for the late Mike Mitchell at Del Mar at the age of 16. “This filly was my fourth starter and I didn’t expect her to show that much speed. But it looked like the one (heavily favored Tryst) was the only other horse with speed, so we told Fernando that if she went, to try and sit second, and if she didn’t, to just go.”
In only her second career start, Rockport Babe, who is owned by Ruis’ father, Mick and mother, Wendy, paid $42.00, $9.00 and $5.00.
A $49,000 Barretts May 2-year-old in training purchase a year ago, Rockport Babe picked up $33,600 for the win, increasing her earnings to $34,720.
And what might be next for Ruis’ stable star?
“I think she’ll run all day, but I just want to see how she comes back, and go from there,” said Ruis, who now has 11 horses stabled at Santa Anita.