10/09/2011 3:26PM

Belmont: Rule by Night comes close to track record winning Duck Dance


Eleven months ago, Rule by Night ran a race at Aqueduct that made one think he could be developing into a sprint star.

In beating Sunrise Smarty that day by 9 1/4 lengths over the main track, Rule by Night ran seven furlongs in 1:20.67, just .64 of a second off the track record set by Artax.

Rule by Night reprised that effort Sunday at Belmont Park, again beating Sunrise Smarty, this time by three-quarters of a length in the $60,000 Duck Dance Stakes. His final time of 1:14.86 for 6 1/2 furlongs was .40 of a second off the track record for the distance established by Souper Shape.

Under Javier Castellano, Rule by Night pressed Sunrise Smarty through a quarter of 22.68 seconds and a half-mile in 45.06. The two came into the stretch together, but at the three-sixteenths pole Rule by Night began to edge clear. Sunrise Smart, benefiting perhaps from a golden rail, fought valiantly to the wire to get second by a half-length over Flat Bold, who rallied down the center of the track.

Rule by Night, trained by Steve Asmussen for Al Gold’s Gold Square Stable, returned $17.20.

Rule by Night, a 4-year-old son of Malibu Moon, was coming off an eighth-place finish in the Teddy Drone Stakes at Monmouth in July and a last-place finish in the Grade 1 Forego at Saratoga in September.

“He ran superb,’’ said Toby Sheets, Asmussen’s New York-based assistant. “He’s been working excellent, and we had regrouped with him. He ran to our expectations. He’s back in form, and hopefully he’ll stay that way.’’

* Exchange Funds ($30.40) was elevated from third to first, after Ultimate Class and Legally Blanca were disqualified for interference in the stretch, in the $60,000 Stormy West for filies and mares going seven furlongs on turf.