09/29/2016 11:46AM

Three Rules fully healthy for In Reality Stakes

Lauren King/Coglianese Photos
The undefeated Three Rules will face 11 other 2-year-olds in the In Reality.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – As if the résumé of Three Rules isn’t imposing enough coming into Saturday’s $500,000 In Reality Stakes at Gulfstream Park, his trainer, Jose Pinchin, gave the opposition a little more to worry about as the finale of the open division of the Florida Sire Stakes series drew near.

“He had a hoof issue before the first race and a temperature before the second,” said Pinchin, referring to the six-furlong Dr. Fager and seven-furlong Affirmed, which Three Rules won by seven and 5 1/4 lengths, respectively. “He’s had no issues coming into this race.”

Despite the imposing presence of Three Rules, the 1 1/16-mile In Reality drew a surprisingly large field of 12 2-year-old colts and geldings The race shares top billing here Saturday with its filly counterpart, the $500,000 My Dear Girl.

Post time for the 13-race program is noon Eastern.

Three Rules will attempt to join Smile (1984), Seacliff (1995), Sir Oscar (2003), and Big Drama (2008) as the only horses to sweep all three legs of the open division of the series since its inception at Calder in 1982. The In Reality will also mark the first time Three Rules will try two turns, although Pinchin does not seem the least bit worried about the added distance, or anything else, for that matter.

“He’s matured, he’s gotten a little bigger, and he’s always been a sensible horse. He doesn’t give himself any trouble,” said Pinchin, who trains the 3-5 morning-line favorite for Shade Tree Thoroughbreds Inc. “I don’t think he’ll have any problem at all. I think he’ll be the controlling speed. I personally think it will be his easiest race because the pace should be much slower.”

Three Rules, who will break from post 2 under regular rider Cornelio Velasquez, forced a 22.20-second opening quarter-mile and a 44.80 half-mile before drawing away to win the Affirmed easily over Front Loaded, who will take on his celebrated stablemate again on Saturday.

Aside from Three Rules, the field includes three other unbeaten juveniles – the stakes winner Thegreatcollection, Western Journey, and Mr. Pinocchio.

:: GULFSTREAM: Get PPs, watch Saturday's card live

Thegreatcollection won his maiden locally under a $16,000 claiming tag before shipping out of town to capture the Evangeline Downs Prince by 4 1/4 lengths over a sloppy track Aug. 27.

Western Journey rallied from well back to win at first asking against $35,000 claiming opposition when sent seven furlongs.

Mr. Pinocchio is the only member of the field to have already won around two turns, having captured his debut going 7 1/2 furlongs on turf for trainer Patrick Biancone four weeks ago.

In Reality, Race 12

Key Contenders

Three Rules, by Gone Astray

Last 3 Beyers: 74-94-74

◗ He has won his four starts by a combined 21 lengths. Pinchin has planned all along to use the In Reality as a prep for Three Rules’s main goal, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on Nov. 5 at Santa Anita.

Front Loaded, by Kantharos

Last 3 Beyers: 64-72-65

◗ “He’s been a nice horse from the get-go,” said Pinchin. “He got squeezed out and fell back to last [in the Affirmed] and made his run.”