10/27/2012 5:19PM

Belmont Park: Buffum leads them gate to wire in Bold Ruler

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Buffum wins the Grade 3 Bold Ruler Handicap by 1 1/4 lengths at Belmont Park.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Buffum had run races that would make one believe he was a stakes-caliber horse. But in four previous stakes tries, he came up empty.

On Saturday, Buffum finally broke through in a graded race, leading from start to finish under Eddie Castro to win the Grade 3, $150,000 Bold Ruler Handicap by 1 1/4 lengths at Belmont Park. Little Drama finished second by a half-length over Associate.

Private Tale finished fourth and was followed in the order of finish by Golddigger’s Boy, Gallant Fields, Caixa Eletronica, the 3-2 favorite, Zero Rate Policy, and Spring to the Sky.

Buffum, a son of Bernardini who was purchased as a yearling by Sheikh Mohammed for $1.2 million in 2009, had won 3 of 8 starts entering the Bold Ruler. He had not run since finishing sixth in the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap here July 7.

A quarter crack in a foot sidelined Buffum for part of the summer, and then trainer Tom Albertrani couldn’t find a race for him earlier in the meet, so he waited for the Bold Ruler.

Albertrani was not thrilled when Buffum drew the rail, because he knew the horse doesn’t usually break that sharply.

But in the Bold Ruler, Buffum broke on top and opened up a length advantage that he maintained through fractions of 22.55 seconds for the quarter and 45.24 for the half-mile while being pursued by Associate and Little Drama.

Coming to the quarter pole, it looked as though Associate or Little Drama would inhale Buffum, but Buffum cut the corner beautifully, spurted clear, and outfinished those two to the wire.

“He’s not normally on the lead his first quarter, usually he’s in a stalking position and improves his position as he goes,” Albertrani said. “I told Eddie to try and break and try to have as clear as trip as possible. He came out running.”

Buffum covered the seven furlongs in 1:21.68 and returned $10.80.

“Tom told me ‘If he breaks good and you’re in front, that’s okay,’ ” Castro said. “He broke good and put himself right there, it was the only choice.”

Albertrani said Buffum would be pointed to the Grade 1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on Nov. 24.