10/05/2003 11:00PM

Ruler's Court demolishes field in Norfolk

Ruler's Court ($11.80) wins the $250,000 Norfolk Stakes by 14 lengths at Santa Anita on Sunday.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Ruler's Court broke into the game like a potential star, then spent the next couple of starts trying to live it down. But he finally came through with breakout performance on Sunday at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting , turning the Grade 2, $250,000 into a personal showcase.

Ruler's Court roared to the lead with a powerful move on the turn, and kept up the same punishing pace all the way to the finish of the 1 1/16-mile race. He won by 14 lengths while covering 1 1/16 miles on the fast track in a stakes record 1:41.27, a performance that, if repeated in 20 days, will make him a serious contender in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

Capitano, an 11-1 shot, was a distant second, one length in front of third-place Perfect Moon. Siphonizer, the Del Mar Futurity winner for trainer Richard Mandella, finished fourth in the field of nine.

"On the turn for home he made a noise. He'd never done that before," said Julie Krone, who rode Siphonizer. "Richard thinks he might have flipped his palate."

Ruler's Court ($11.80) was well-regarded before he made his debut for trainer Eoin Harty. But after winning that first start on June 11 at Hollywood Park, little had gone right. Ruler's Court was beaten as the 1-5 favorite in the Hollywood Juvenile Championship, then was fourth in the Best Pal Stakes.

In an attempt to give Ruler's Court a chance to redeem himself, Harty sent the Doneraile Court colt to Turfway Park for last month's Kentucky Cup Juvenile, but he had a touch of colic on the eve of the race and had to be scratched.

Harty added blinkers for the Norfolk, but conceded he had "no idea" why Ruler's Court suddenly awakened in his first start around two turns.

"After the Best Pal, he started training really well," Harty said. "He had one more work at Del Mar, then shipped up here and worked fantastic."

Coldntight led through sharp early fractions of 22.54 seconds and 45.79 seconds for the first half-mile, but when he suddenly stopped after six furlongs, Ruler's Court found himself on a lonely lead that he only expanded through the lane.