Following an unplanned two-month break from racing, Red Ruby returned with a flourish in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes.
Red Ruby pulled away from Coach Rocks on a sloppy track Friday and cruised to a 4 3/4-length victory, her third career win in five tries.
The Grade 2, $250,000 race for 3-year-old fillies was run on a cold, rainy afternoon at Pimlico Race Course.
Not long after finishing fourth in the Honeybee Stakes at Oaklawn Park on March 18, Red Ruby got spooked and "had a little accident in the shed row," according to trainer Kellyn Gorder.
Gorder said Red Ruby ran backward, dragged her hot walker into the middle of the barn, ran into a metal ladder and received 13 stitches.
"We got really, really lucky. They were all superficial," Gorder said. "But she sat in the stall for 16 days while those things healed."
The injury forced the Kentucky-bred filly to miss the Fantasy Stakes last month at Oaklawn Park and the Kentucky Oaks two weeks ago at Churchill Downs in Louisville.
On Friday, Red Ruby returned in style.
With jockey Paco Lopez aboard the gray filly for the first time, Red Ruby charged past Coach Rocks at the top of the stretch.
"That's when I started jumping up and down," Gorder said. "That's when I knew he had the win."
Coach Rocks led at the outset and remained in front until Lopez made his move — at just the right time.
"I thought Paco would fit this filly to a T," Gorder said. "And he did."
Lopez followed instruction well and put the finishing touch on a marvelous run.
"They told me to come from a little behind, not too close, but she broke very good," Lopez said. "I put her second and she was very comfortable. I waited for her until the three-eighths, I looked and no one was coming. I said, 'I got to go,' and she finished very well."
It didn't hurt that Gorder was smart enough to have Red Ruby gallop on the messy track on Friday morning, just to get an understanding of the conditions.
Red Ruby, a daughter of two-time Breeders' Cup Classic winner Tiznow, paid $7.80, $4 and $3.20.
Coming off a disappointing seventh-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks, Coach Rocks paid $4.20 and $3.20.
"I thought Coach Rocks ran super," trainer Dale Romans said. "She's just going to get better and better. That's a good filly that beat us, but we'll fight another day."
Jockey Luis Saez tried to answer Red Ruby's late surge, to no avail.
"The winner was tough," Saez said. "When I tried to get some momentum, the winner was gone."
Indy Union took third.
Earlier, Irish War Cry won the Grade 3 Pimlico Special by 4 1/2 lengths over One Liner and Untrapped, who finished in a dead heat for second.
It was the first victory in seven races since April 2017 for Irish War Cry, sired by 2007 Preakness winner Curlin.