BELMONT PARK - The G2 Ruffian Handicap will be run Sunday, May 6 at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York. A purse of $250,000 will be on the line for fillies and mares four years old and upward willing to go one mile on Belmont Park's dirt track.
A field of six will take to the track in the Ruffian Handicap - race 8 on Belmont Park's Sunday schedule. Post time is 5:18 PM.
||Irad Ortiz, Jr.
Lady Sheila Stable's Grade 3 Distaff Handicap winner Holiday Disguise will seek her second straight graded win in the $250,000 Ruffian Stakes (G2) May 6 at Belmont Park.
The Harlan's Holiday filly returned from an eight-month layoff in February to kick off her 4-year-old season with a 3 ¼-length win in the one-mile Biogio's Rose for New York-breds at Aqueduct Racetrack. Following that effort, she faced open company for the first time in the Heavenly Prize, also at a mile, where she raced wide throughout to finish second to Divine Miss Grey.
Holiday Disguise turned the tables in the seven-furlong Distaff on April 6 at the Big A, turning for home five wide and digging in to win by a length. It was her fifth career victory from seven starts for trainer Linda Rice.
"She ran a big race in the Distaff, and we're going to try her at the mile once again," said Rice. "I thought possibly seven-eighths would be her best distance, but she deserves another chance at the mile. We're excited about her this weekend. She won off a long layoff going a mile [in the Biogio's Rose] and in the Heavenly Prize, there was no pace in the race, so I'm hoping there's more pace this time. But, if not, we'll just be a little closer."
Holiday Disguise, a half-sister to 3-year-old multiple stakes winner Midnight Disguise, will break from post 2 with Jose Ortiz aboard.
Also making a bid in the Ruffian is Unchained Melody, making her first start since the Grade 1 Alabama in August at Saratoga Race Course, where she was pulled up after the half-mile pole and carted off following the race.
"We gave her some time after the Alabama," said trainer Brian Lynch. "Clinically, nothing clear ever really showed up after the race, but we wanted to give her some time off, so she got 90 days at Hidden Brook South in Florida. She came back in to us in January or so while we were down in Palm Meadows and we haven't missed a beat with her since. She's trained forwardly and had a couple of lovely breezes at Keeneland. Each work's been better than the last."
Unchained Melody, a 4-year-old filly by Smart Strike, is a perfect 2-for-2 at Belmont, including a front-running, three-length victory in the Grade 2 Mother Goose last July.
"I couldn't be happier with the way she's coming into the race," Lynch said. "She's a year older and she's a big, strong filly. There's definitely a lot more to her. It seems like mentally she's progressed in the right direction also. We're happy to have her back and we know she likes Belmont. We're looking forward to running her on Sunday."
Owned by Hidden Brook Farm and Hare Forest Farm, Unchained Melody will race with blinkers on, leaving from the outside post 6 with Joel Rosario in the irons.
Rounding out the field for the Ruffian is multiple graded stakes winner Highway Star, looking to rebound from a dull fifth-place finish in the Heavenly Prize for the Rodrigo Ubillo barn; California invader Faypien, winner of the Harry Henson Handicap at Sunland Park last time out for Hall of Fame conditioner Bob Baffert; Michael Matz-trained Tequilita, coming off a seventh-place result in the Grade 1 Madison; and Pacific Wind, an impressive 8 ¼-length allowance winner on April 13 at Keeneland for trainer Chad Brown.