07/16/2011 5:18PM

Ellis Park: Native Ruler cruises to Bernhardt repeat

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Veteran sprinter Native Ruler defending his title in the $50,000 Don Bernhardt Memorial at Ellis Park Saturday, winning even more comfortably than he did in taking the race last year.

Fourth among a group of horses tracking the early pace of Snapshot in the early going, who set splits of 22.31 seconds and 44.75 in the 6 1/2-furlong Bernhardt, Native Ruler split horses at the top of the stretch and powered away to win by 3 1/4 lengths over late-running A Diehl. Pacesetting Snapshot was two lengths farther back in third, a half-length ahead of fourth-place Phat Day.

Native Ruler, a 7-year-old son of Elusive Quality owned by Maggi Moss and trained by Chris Richard, ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:14.88 on a fast main track under Jamie Theriot. His time was just .32 off the track record of 1:14.56 set by Junior College in winning the Don Bernhardt in 2006.

He paid $5.40 as the favorite in the field of 11.

Both Native Ruler's time and margin and of victory were superior to his win in the Bernhardt last year, when he covered the same distance in 1:15.42 and won by a 1 1/4 lengths.

Saturday’s Don Bernhardt marked the 10th stakes victory of Native Ruler’s career, stretching back to his 2-year-old year when he won the Chenery Stakes at Colonial Downs.