10/01/2016 6:34PM

Three Rules demolishes competition in In Reality

Leslie Martin/Coglianese Photos
Three Rules appears headed to the Breeders' Cup Juvenile after romping in the In Reality under Cornelio Velasquez.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Florida – Jose Pinchin tried to play it cool. He called Three Rules a good horse. Praised his mind. Said he was easy to work with, did everything right, but finally, in the winner’s circle after the $500,000 In Reality division of the Florida Sire Stakes, Pinchin let the façade fall for a moment and said what he really felt: “This horse, he’s a freak.”

Indeed, Three Rules looked more freakish than ever Saturday at Gulfstream Park, where he won the In Reality, his first two-turn try, by 10 lengths. He ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.63, just off the stakes record, and did so on a track that wasn’t producing fast times while eased across the finish by jockey Cornelio Velasquez.

“I wanted to save him for the next time today,” Velasquez said.

The next time is likely to come in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Pinchin is game to go if Three Rule’s owner and co-breeder, Bert Pilcher, feels the same way, and Pilcher said after the In Reality that he’s in.

“The way it looks like he won this race, yes,” said Pilcher, who races as Shade Tree Thoroughbreds. “This horse has got the most unbelievable mind.”

Three Rules ($2.60) swept the three races in the Florida Sire Stakes series, and he now is unbeaten in five starts, his combined margin of victory in those races 21 lengths. Pinchin said Three Rules, a son of Gone Astray out of the Full Mandate mare Joy Rules, had little issues before his two most recent races, but that his preparation for the In Reality finally had gone off without a hitch.

It showed on the track, too, as the mature-looking bay colt, breaking from post 2, came through along the inside to take the lead into the first turn. He set splits of 23.68 seconds, 48.12, and 1:12.79 with Velasquez sitting chilly, and when Three Rules coasted away from his host of pursuers around the far turn, the race was clearly over, the run through the home-straight a procession. Thegreatcollection finished second, and Dont Come Knockin was third.

Pilcher, of course, has gotten plenty of offers for Three Rules, but so far he has rebuffed them, though more are sure to come after this latest victory. Three Rules is indeed an attractive prospect, a mature, well-balanced horse with speed and, it now seems clear, stamina. Some of those close to him call him Equine Einstein because of his intelligence.

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“He takes care of himself,” Pinchin said. “From when we fed him this morning, he was laying down in his stall sleeping.”

Put him in the starting gate, though, and Three Rules comes wide awake.

Gulfstream had strong business again on the final Florida Sire Stakes card, with total handle for the 13-race program at $9.4 million, a 53 percent increase over the $6.1 million handled on the same card in 2015. The three Sire Stakes cards handled a total of $25.3 million, an increase of 4 -percent over the $17.9 million handled last year.