07/21/2012 4:08PM

Finger Lakes: Slow pace helps Fox Rules upset New York Derby

Tom Cooley Photography
Fox Rules, ridden by Pedro Rodriguez, wins for the first time in five tries on dirt in the New York Derby.

Prior to Saturday, Fox Rules clearly looked like a far better horse on turf, where he had won 3 of 7 starts, than on dirt, where he was 0 for 4, including a 14 1/2-length drubbing in his last appearance on the main track in the March 10 Tampa Bay Derby.

Given one more try on the main track in the 40th running of the $150,000 New York Derby at Finger Lakes, Fox Rules showed he can be effective on dirt, too.

Allowed to set slow comfortable fractions under Pedro Rodriguez, Fox Rules ($26) cruised to a 6 1/2-length victory in the second leg of the Big Apple Triple for 3-year-old New York-breds.

“I made the lead and slowed it down," said Rodriguez, who won the 2008 running of the New York Derby with Tin Cup Chalice. “I knew I was walking up front.”

“Pedro rode the race absolutely perfect," said trainer M. Anthony Ferraro. “This is a great win for us.”

It was also the 1,500th career win for Ferraro, who saddled his first winner in 1983 and has collected 1,323 of his victories at Finger Lakes.

The complexion of the race changed dramatically when heavy favorite Willy Beamin was an early scratch. Fans then flocked to Wildcat’s Smile, who was attempting to become the first filly ever to win the New York Derby. Wildcat’s Smile, bet down to 2-5, dumped jockey John Davila Jr. as she was being led to the starting gate. She raced in third for much of the 1 1/16-mile before fading to fifth in a field of six.

Fox Rules, a son of Roman Ruler owned by Langpap Stables, was aided when he was left alone on the lead through fractions of 50.00 seconds and 1:14.49. On top by two lengths turning for home, Fox Rules opened up through the stretch under left-handed urging from Rodriguez and hit the wire in 1:43.95. It was the fastest running of the race since Accountforgold took the 2005 running in 1:43.78.

I’ll Stake U, who won a sprint stakes for New York-breds at Belmont in early May, finished a distant second three-quarters of a length in front of 11-1 outsider Smokin Candy.

* Lady On the Run ($3), ridden by Mike Luzzi for trainer John Morrison, took the $50,000 Arctic Queen Handicap for fillies and mares by 1 1/2 lengths. She ran six furlongs in 1:11.45.