By Jim Freer
Three Rules coasted to victory in Saturday’s $500,000 In Reality Stakes at Gulfstream Park, giving him a sweep of the three races in the two-year-old male division of the Florida Sire Stakes (FSS) series.
Three Rules, undefeated in five career starts, led at every call. He began pulling away after a half mile and went on to beat Thegreatcollection by a widening ten lengths in the 1 1/16 mile dirt stakes.
In the 12-horse field, Three Rules (photo on home page) was the 3-10 favorite.
In the winner’s circle after the In Reality, trainer Jose Pinchin and owner Bert Pilcher said that if Three Rules remains healthy, his next race will be the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (. That 1 1/16 mile dirt race will be on Nov. 5 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.
In upcoming stories we will explain why Three Rules is almost certain to be in the field and why many racing analysts expect he will be among the favorites.
Three Rules added to his stature by winning the In Reality in 1:44.63, fast for a 2-year-old, on the track that was listed as good following heavy rain on Friday night.
The time was particularly impressive in that jockey Cornelio Velasquez was not pressing Three Rules in the final half furlong. As the Equibase chart noted, he “appeared to have a lot more left in reserve.”
It was the second-fastest time in the 35 runnings of the In Reality. From 1982 through 2013, the FSS races were run at Calder, where the track is deeper than at Gulfstream and the times for races one mile or longer are usually between one second and two seconds slower than at Gulfstream.
The In Reality record of 1:44.52 was set by Kiss A Native in 1999. Velasquez rode Kiss A Native for trainer Bill White and owner John Franks.
Three Rules set FSS stakes records in winning the six-furlong Dr. Fager on Aug 6 and the seven-furlong Affirmed on Sept. 3.
The FSS races are restricted to sons and daughters of registered Florida-standing stallions whose owners have nominated those stallions for the program. Owners of the stallions and of FSS-eligible horses pay annual fees to help support the program. The Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association (FTBOA) coordinates the program.
Three Rules is a son of Gone Astray, who stands at stud at Northwest Stud in Ocala. In 2013, Pilcher and his breeding industry partners Geoff Roy and Tom Fitzgerald paid a modest $4,500 to breed their mare Joy Rules to Gone Astray.
In 2009 Gone Astray won the Ohio Derby (Grade 2) and Pennsylvania Derby (Grade 2), both at 1 1 1/8 miles on dirt.
Several times this summer Pilcher has pointed to that breeding as a reason he has always felt that Three Rules could keep winning when the races stretch out to two turns.
Three Rules proved Pilcher right in the In Reality. Now, he and his partners (along with fans who follows Gulfstream) are eagerly awaiting to see what Three Rules can do in the Breeders’ Cup when he starts taking on horses that were bred in locales other than Florida.
In Reality Stakes – 12th race, Oct. 1, 2016, Gulfstream Park
2 -THREE RULES 2.60 2.20 2.10
3 -THEGREATCOLLECTION 6.80 6.60
1 -DONT COME KNOCKIN 18.60
$2 EXACTA 2-3 PAID $20.40; $1 TRIFECTA 2-3-1 PAID
Photo — Courtesy of Gulfstream Park, by Leslie Martin