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May 08, 2015

Entry gains favorite's role in Ruffian Stakes


Elmont, NY ( - The Godolphin Racing entry of Via Strata and Wedding Toast has been made the 8-5 morning line favorite for Saturday's $250,000 Ruffian Stakes at Belmont Park. Six fillies and mares, with five betting interests, have been entered for the mile race.

Via Strata and Wedding Toast, both trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, will break from the two outside posts with Irad Ortiz Jr. and Jose Lezcano the respective jockeys.

Via Strata will be making her fourth career start in the Ruffian as she attempts to remain undefeated. The 4-year-old filly won her debut effort at Aqueduct last Dec. 13 and came back on Feb. 7 at the Big A with an allowance victory. Via Strata won at Keeneland four weeks ago by eight lengths, bringing her three wins by a total of 16 lengths.

Wedding Toast is the veteran of the two having won five of nine lifetime starts for $494,956. The 5-year-old mare opened her 2015 campaign by winning the Miami Shores Handicap at Gulfstream Park followed by a third in Gulfstream's Rampart and a fourth in the Madison at Keeneland on April 4.

Princess Violet, owned by Barry Schwartz, is the 9-5 second pick and will break from post 4 with Jose Ortiz again in the saddle. Trained by Linda Rice, Princess Violet is coming off a half-length win in the Madison Stakes, ridden by Junior Alvarado filling in for Ortiz.

"(Former trainer) Mike Hushion did an amazing job bringing her along as a young filly to the level that she competes at today," said Rice. "We didn't want to run her back on short time, so we decided on the Ruffian to give her the extra rest and she's doing very well. We're very excited about the race."

The 4-year-old filly kicked off her season with a second in the Barbara Fritchie at Laurel Park on Feb. 14. As a 3-year-old in 2014 she finished second to eventual champion Untapable in Belmont's Mother Goose. The filly has earnings of $662,810 with wins in half of her 10 lifetime starts.

The 5-2 third choice is House Rules, winner of three of her last four starts, leaving from post 2 with Javier Castellano riding for trainer Jimmy Jerkens and owner Joseph Shields Jr.

The 4-year-old filly has wins this year in the Bal Harbour, Rampart and Top Flight Handicaps with a second in the Royal Delta Stakes. She has won six of 16 career starts for $533,703.

Here is the field for the Ruffian from the rail out: Shayjolie, Cornelio Velasquez, 8-1; House Rules, Javier Castellano, 5-2; Macha, Manny Franco, 15-1; Princess Violet, Jose Ortiz, 9-5; Via Strata, Irad Ortiz Jr., 8-5 and Wedding Toast, Jose Lezcano, 8-5. Via Strata and Wedding Toast are an entry.

The Ruffian has an approximate post time of 2:53 p.m. ET.

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