05/11/2007 11:00PM

Songster sharp in Bold Ruler

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ELMONT, N.Y. - Songster made a dazzling return to the races, breaking like a rocket and rolling to a 2 1/2-length victory over Dashboard Drummer in Saturday's Grade 3, $105,400 Bold Ruler Handicap at Belmont Park.

Dark Cheetah, second in this race a year ago, finished third, 4 3/4 lengths ahead of Pavo. Anew, last year's True North Handicap winner, finished last of five.

It was the fourth win from eight career starts for Songster, a 4-year-old son of Songandaprayer, owned by Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum's Godolphin Stable and saddled by Rick Mettee, assistant to trainer Saeed bin Suroor.

Songster, who won the Grade 2 Woody Stephens Breeders' Cup over this track a year ago, had not run since finishing fifth in the Grade 1 King's Bishop last Aug. 26 at Saratoga. He had a lengthy work tab that suggested he would be ready to fire off the layoff, and indeed he was razor-sharp.

Breaking from post 2 under Edgar Prado, Songster broke on top and carved out fractions of 21.77 and 44.19 seconds while being chased by Anew. He cruised into the stretch, and though he cocked his head to the right while the rest of his body went to the rail, Songster won without feeling Prado's whip. Songster covered six furlongs in 1:08.80 and returned $3 as the favorite.

"Looks like he's back to his old form," said Prado, who has ridden Songster in all of his starts.

Mettee said the goal with Songster is to win a Grade 1 this year, and he mentioned the Forego on Sept. 1 at Saratoga as the objective. His next race will most likely be the Grade 2, $150,000 Tom Fool Handicap on July 4. Both races are at seven furlongs.

* Earlier on the card, Rutherienne ($3.20) rallied from last to win the $68,750 Sugar Plum Time Stakes by 1 3/4 lengths over Silence Dogood. Rutherienne, a 3-year-old daughter of Pulpit trained by Christophe Clement, covered the 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:43.04.