04/12/2008 12:00AM

Rutherienne rallies to win Jenny Wiley


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Rutherienne was one of the best 3-year-old turf fillies of 2007 but had never been tried outside her division. Thrown to the older wolves Saturday when making her 4-year-old debut, the Pulpit filly responded with a spectacular effort, driving through a narrow opening in deep stretch to register a neck victory over longshot Stormy West in a hotly contested 20th running of the Grade 2 Jenny Wiley Stakes on the Blue Grass Stakes undercard at Keeneland.

With Garrett Gomez riding for trainer Christophe Clement, Rutherienne bided her time near the rear of a tightly packed field and had just one rival beaten at the quarter pole. But as the front-runners began to tire and the field bunched even closer, she split rivals while launching a ferocious surge, finishing 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.76 over a firm turf course. Stormy West, a 23-1 shot under Kent Desormeaux, finished a head in front of late-running Lady of Venice. Less than six lengths separated the entire field.

Rutherienne, bred and owned in Kentucky by Virginia Kraft Payson, returned $14 as fourth choice in a field of 10.

Gomez said he was "eyeing a spot" between Candy Ball and Roshani, who had led most of the way, "and I was hoping they'd give me some room to get through there. They did. The filly found daylight and sprinted on home."

The stakes victory was the third of the week for Gomez, who won the Vinery Madison on Wednesday and the Stonerside Beaumont on Thursday.

Virtually every starter took their best shot in the Jenny Wiley. Precious Kitten, the 5-2 favorite, and Bit of Whimsy, the 7-2 second choice, both were prominently placed but failed to deliver their best when finishing fifth and sixth, respectively. Sealy Hill, the 2007 Horse of the Year in Canada, neared the lead in midstretch before fading to finish last.

Rutherienne now has won 9 of 11 career starts. Last year, she was defeated only in the Appalachian at Keeneland and the Garden City at Belmont while winning five graded stakes, including the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks.

"That's what good horses do - they win," Clement said.

The Gamely at Hollywood or the Just a Game at Belmont are possible next starts for Rutherienne, he added.

Rutherienne earned $124,000 from a total purse of $200,000, lifting her career bankroll to $744,975.

Commonwealth: Rebellion by a head

An hour later, Edgar Prado picked a great spot to win his first race of the meet when he urged Rebellion ($10.20) to a head victory in the Grade 2 Commonwealth Stakes.

Prado, who had been winless with his first 25 mounts at the spring meet, guided Rebellion to the center of the course and put him to steady left-handed pressure when nailing a game Elite Squadron, the race-long front-runner at 38-1.

Rebellion, owned by Hickory Tree Stables and trained by Graham Motion, finished seven furlongs in 1:21.40 over Polytrack. An English-bred horse by Mozart, he earned $248,000 from the $390,000 total purse and now has won 6 of 14 career starts.

"He's a pretty special horse," Motion said.

Medzendeekron was third in a field of 10 older horses, while Thousand Words, the lukewarm 3-1 favorite, ran fifth.

Prado, a 2008 Hall of Fame nominee, has been the winningest stakes jockey at Keeneland since the 2001 spring meet, with 31 stakes wins. A race after winning the Commonwealth, he doubled his win total for the meet by winning the the Blue Grass Stakes aboard Monba.