by James Scully
Peace Rules makes a statement
A remarkable performance from PEACE RULES (Jules) in
Saturday’s 1 1/4-mile Suburban H. (G1) sets the stage for him to
be a major factor in the handicap division the rest of the year.
His first score at 10 furlongs, Peace Rules ran well at the
distance when a close third in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and second
in the Travers S. (G1) last year and probably deserved a shot in
the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). Instead, trainer Bobby Frankel
tried the turf in the Mile (G1) and Peace Rules faltered badly to
His 2004 return resulted in a fourth-place effort in the
restricted Sunshine Millions Classic and red flags went up. The
Breeders’ Cup experience might have extracted too serious of a
toll, leaving the possibility that Peace Rules would never be the
same. He scorched his competition when winning the Haskell
Invitational H. (G1), Blue Grass S. (G1) and Louisiana Derby (G2)
last season and his only poor dirt showing came over an off track
in the Preakness (G1). Much more was expected of him at Santa
A narrow win over Saint Liam (Saint Ballado) in the New
Orleans H. (G2) sent mixed signals and the competition was
questionable in his Oaklawn H. (G2) triumph as well. Peace Rules
stepped up to face one of the nation’s best in his next start,
the Stephen Foster H. (G1), but was no match for Southern Image (Halo’s
Image) and the surprising Colonial Colony (Pleasant Colony) at
the top of the stretch, fading to fourth, beaten 8 3/4 lengths,
after setting the early pace.
The Stephen Foster came over a sloppy oval at Churchill Downs
and proved Peace Rules doesn’t like a wet track. He gave a true
indication of himself at Belmont on Sunday.
The Florida-bred colt broke on top in the Suburban and led the
field through splits of :23 4/5, :46 1/5, 1:09 1/5 and 1:33 4/5
for the opening mile. However, Funny Cide (Distorted Humor)
spurted past through an opening on the rail in upper stretch to
take the lead and appeared on his way to a possible victory at
the eighth pole with the fast-closing Newfoundland (Storm Cat)
looming as a serious threat on the far outside.
At this point, Jerry Bailey put away the whip and went to a
vigorous hand-ride between horses as Peace Rules dug in and re-rallied
past his rivals for a gallant neck decision. The chestnut earned
a 109 BRIS Speed rating.
The handicap division isn’t deep this year and the status of
many top runners is presently uncertain. Pleasantly Perfect (Pleasant
Colony) has returned to training but must still bounce back from
his overseas victory in the Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1). Southern
Image is currently sidelined with a foot problem. Candy Ride (Arg)
(Ride the Rails) may never make it back to the races.
Medaglia d’Oro has been retired, and Smarty Jones (Elusive
Quality) isn’t scheduled to face older horses until the Breeders’
Cup. Dynever (Dynaformer) entered this season with big
expectations, but he’s won only once from his last nine starts
following a discouraging sixth in the Suburban.
Peace Rules is on the upswing right now and could go on a tear
leading into the Breeders’ Cup. His connections have every right
to be thinking about Classic glory.
Frankel displayed a magic touch Sunday in the seven-furlong
Tom Fool H. (G2) with GHOSTZAPPER (Awesome Again), who displayed
no rust off more than a nine-month layoff. The late-running four-year-old
powered past his rivals on the far turn to open a clear lead and
cruised home an easy 4 1/4-length winner.
Ghostzapper wasn’t facing the best sprinters and figured to be
tough to handle, but one couldn’t anticipate such a scintillating
performance. Last seen destroying his rivals in similar fashion
in September’s Vosburgh S. (G1), the four-year-old was making
only his third stakes appearance on Sunday and earned a 112 BRIS
Similar to last year’s champion sprinter Aldebaran (also
trained by Frankel), Ghostzapper appears capable of being a
dominant influence in races at 6 1/2 or seven panels, but the six-furlong
Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) isn’t a good fit for the Sustained
runner. Frankel spoke afterward of trying a route for the first
time with Awesome Again this fall, possibly in September’s
Woodward S. (G1).
Belmont produced a pair of tremendous efforts over the Holiday