09/09/2011 2:54PM

Zia Park: Native Ruler concedes weight in Premiere Cup

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Native Ruler will spot his rivals between five and nine pounds each on Sunday in the $100,000 Premiere Cup Handicap at Zia Park in Hobbs, N.M. The six-furlong race is the first of $4.5 million in stakes to be run during the 50-date mixed meet for Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses that opened on Saturday.

Native Ruler, who is the 122-pound highweight, is a standout in class, as the weights suggest. He is a 10-time stakes winner, and has amassed more than $650,000 in earnings. Native Ruler on Sunday will face eight others in the Premiere, a race he finished second in as the 126-pound highweight back in 2009.

He was to make the six-hour ship from his Remington Park base to Zia on Friday, and comes into the Premiere Cup off a runner-up finish in the $85,000 Senator Robert C. Byrd Memorial at Mountaineer Racetrack on Aug. 6.

“We thought this was a good spot for him,” said Chris Richard, who trains Native Ruler for Maggi Moss. “We thought the timing was good. It’s going on five or six weeks since his last race. And, he ran over there two years ago and ran second.”

Native Ruler played runner-up to E Z Dreamer the last time he ran in the Premiere. In his most recent start, he was favored in the Byrd at Mountaineer, and per the conditions of the race carried 125 pounds. Native Ruler was beaten 1 1/2 lengths by Tend, a half-brother to Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Blame.

“He gave a lot of weight to everybody,” Richard said.

“He’s been doing really good. I’m very happy with the way he’s training. I’m expecting him to run his race.”

Native Ruler will break from post 4, under Roman Chapa. He could get a stalking trip behind Tactful and El Scorpio, who both last faced Quarter Horses at 870 yards, and Imco Spirit, a multiple stakes winner who will be making his first start since April.

“He just is kind of better when he stalks,” Richard said of the preferred trip for Native Ruler. “He has won on the front end, [but] he runs his best when able to sit and stalk. If there’s no pace, he’ll be even closer. If there’s a legitimate pace, I see him two or three lengths off the pace.”

Others set to start include Pack Your Bags and Bestdressed, both of whom last raced in the claiming ranks in Southern California. Stephengothisstar is returning to stakes competition after winning a $20,000 claiming race last out at Remington Park.