08/05/2011 9:37AM

Ruler of Dubai rewards trainer's sharp eye in Graduation

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Benoit & Associates
Ruler of Dubai wins the Graduation Stakes at Del Mar.

DEL MAR, Calif. – It was a deal that George Papaprodromou thought he had to make.

When Papaprodromou, the trainer of a small stable at Santa Anita, saw Ruler of Dubai gallop for the first time in May, he was determined to reach a private deal with breeder and fellow trainer Julio Canani for the 2-year-old California-bred son of Tribal Rule.

“I liked the way he trained, the way he was bred, and the way he moved,” Papaprodromou recalled.

A private deal for $25,000 was finalized, Papaprodromou said.

Wednesday, Ruler of Dubai gave the 35-year-old trainer his first stakes win in the Graduation Stakes at Del Mar, which capped a hectic week for the gelding and his trainer.

On July 27, Ruler of Dubai finished fourth of six in a starter allowance over 5 1/2 furlongs at Del Mar, a race he essentially lost before it started, the trainer said. Ruler of Dubai sweated significantly before the start and behaved nervously after shipping from Santa Anita, Papaprodromou said.

“When he didn’t ship that well, I decided to try him back in six days,” Papaprodromou said. “Sometimes you need to bring them back and let them know it’s okay. It worked out perfectly.”

Dismissed at 14-1 in the Graduation, Ruler of Dubai was always well-placed under jockey Garrett Gomez. Third for the first three furlongs, Ruler of Dubai was second in early stretch and held off a late threat from the 10-1 first-time starter Three Vases to win by a head.

“The second time he was much better,” Papaprodromou said of Ruler of Dubai’s race in the Graduation. “I took the blinkers off and he was more relaxed.”

A native of Cyprus, Papaprodromou trains Ruler of Dubai for Harout Keshisian of Arcadia, Calif., who has supported the trainer in the decade since he went on his own. “If it weren’t for him, who knows what I’d be doing,” Papaprodromou said.

Papaprodromou previously worked with his father, Andreas, who trained in Southern California until the 1990s, and has returned to Cyprus where he has a Thoroughbred farm.

The win in the Graduation Stakes has led Papaprodromou to plan for a start in the $100,000 I’m Smokin Stakes for statebreds over six furlongs on Sept. 5. The $250,000 Del Mar Futurity against open company is considered too ambitious for Ruler of Dubai, the trainer said.

Canani has not been completely left out of the success. Aside from breeder awards, Canani has two full brothers to Ruler of Dubai, a yearling and weanling. He bred Ruler of Dubai’s dam, O K Topless, to The Pamplemousse earlier this year. The mare has been pronounced in foal, he said.

O K Topless, a California-bred by Old Topper, won 3 of 29 starts and $125,014. She placed in three stakes at Turf Paradise in late 2004 and ended her career in late 2006 running in claiming races.

“She was a beautiful filly,” Canani said.

Ruler of Dubai is O K Topless’s first horse to race.

◗ Points Offthebench, a full brother to the multiple stakes winner Bench Points, makes his debut in Sunday’s second race, a $63,000 maiden special weight race over 5 1/2 furlongs for statebred 2-year-olds.

“I’m excited to get him to the races,” said Tim Yakteen, who also trains Bench Points. “He’s a different individual than Bench Points. We started later on him. At this point, he still has a lot of maturing to do physically and mentally.

Owned by Carl Asadurian and Donnie Crevier, Points Offthebench is part of a field of eight. The gelding is by Benchmark out of Mo Chuisle.

“The 5 1/2 should be okay,” Yakteen said. “He’s not a speedball, but he’s got tactical speed.”

Bench Points has won 5 of 8 starts and $278,280 and was the California-bred champion 2-year-old male of 2010. By Benchmark, Bench Points has won three stakes.