07/01/2017 5:41PM

Three Rules makes Carry Back first graded-stakes triumph

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Leslie Martin/Coglianese Photos
Three Rules paid $4 in winning the Carry Back Stakes at Gulfstream on Saturday.

Back at Gulfstream Park and back at his preferred one-turn trip, Three Rules notched an overdue first career graded-stakes win when he beat Mo Cash by a neck in the Grade 3, $150,000 Carry Back Stakes on Saturday.

Three Rules ran bravely under a good ride from Cornelio Velasquez, who settled Three Rules in seventh down the backstretch while saving ground. Three Rules moved up on his own to fifth at the three-furlong pole, snuck between a fading Hunka Burning Love and Sweetontheladies before the quarter pole, then split Sweetontheladies and Mo Cash at the top of the stretch.

Full of run, Three Rules' momentum carried him wide into the straightaway, and it was only when Velasquez got him to change leads just before the eighth pole that Three Rules leveled off, and although Mo Cash continued on gamely, Three Rules had him measured through the final 100 yards.

“He had to go between horses, and he ran very good today,” Velasquez said.

The top two were much, much the best, with Benefactor rallying for third, nine lengths behind Mo Cash. Mo Cash, making his graded-stakes debut, ran a strong race in his own right. He came through along the inside to make the lead after about a furlong and set splits of 22.64, 45.07, and 1:09.22 while hounded by Sweetontheladies. Mo Cash put away his pace rivals and cornered smartly into the stretch, but just failed to hold clear favored Three Rules, who stopped the timer in 1:22.53 for seven furlongs over a fast track.

Three Rules, trained by Jose Pinchin for Shade Tree Thoroughbreds, paid $4 to win. By Gone Astray out of Joy Rules, by Full Mandate, Three Rules won the first five starts of his career as a 2-year-old of 2016 while ripping through the rich Florida Stallion Stakes series at Gulfstream. He capped his 2-year-old season finishing sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and ran a big race in his 3-year-old debut to finish second by a half-length to Practical Joke in the Swale Stakes.

Stretched back to two turns, Three Rules was third in the Fountain of Youth and fifth in the Florida Derby, and then ran slightly below his best in the six-furlong Chick Lang Stakes on the Preakness undercard.

But Three Rules loves Gulfstream and excels in one-turn races between seven furlongs and a mile, and under the right circumstances Saturday, he wore the Carry Back crown.

Who's the Lady wins wild Azalea

Five horses were separated by one length at the finish of the $75,000 Azalea Stakes, but the one with her nose down was the filly on the fence, Who’s the Lady.

Who’s the Lady, who was just less than 8-1, won the Azalea by a head over 31-1 shot Lirica, who was a nose better than R Angel Katelyn. A half-length behind her came Firefoot, who had a neck on Fergielicious at the wire.

Ridden to victory by Luis Saez for trainer Kathleen O’Connell, Who’s the Lady revealed a new dimension by stalking the pace and rallying to win the Azalea, a seven-furlong dirt race for 3-year-old fillies.

A Darsan Inc. homebred by Munnings out of Nicole Kathryn, by Star Gallant, Who’s the Lady won the first four races of her career last fall and early this year while racing on or just off the early pace. Who’s the Lady barely lifted her hooves finishing 11th in the Miss Preakness Stakes, then was seventh making her turf debut June 10 at Monmouth Park.

But while Who’s the Lady was learning about losing, she might also have simply been learning, for she was able to accomplish more complicated tasks Saturday than merely running along in the clear, as she had done in her four previous wins.

Saez stuck her to the fence for almost the entire trip while stalking the leaders, and got pace help up front as longshot Fergielicious attacked R Angel Katelyn shortly after a quarter-mile had been run in 22.67 seconds. The two pace-setters battled around the turn through a half-mile in 45.11, both running on gamely after straightening for home, but the closers were coming, and the ground Saez saved on Who’s the Lady made all the difference as Lirica came on the far outside to just miss.

Who’s the Lady was timed in 1:24.58 for the seven furlongs and paid $17.60 to win.

Extra credit goes to R Angel Katelyn, who could not have been more determined, and still held the lead 50 yards from home despite the speed duel. In the end, the filly who was able to adapt, Who’s the Lady, got the right trip.