(Press Democrat.Com, Aug.4, 2003)

So who is the fastest mule? For the last five years, that has been an easy question to answer -- Black Ruby, of course. But it's no longer that simple.

Sarah Nelson, trained by Rhoda March and ridden by Eddie Howard, defeated Black Ruby and Smokin Joe to capture the $12,500 Santa Rosa Mule Championship at 440 yards. For the first time in her illustrious career, Black Ruby has lost four consecutive races, twice to Sarah Nelson and twice to Smokin Joe.

Sarah Nelson, a slow starter that closes with a rush, got up in the final strides to win by a nose over Black Ruby. Taz edged Smokin Joe for third.

"She's not as quick as the other mules out of the gate. She's a little slow to settle into stride," March said. "In almost all of her races, she has had to play catch-up. She might have given us everything she has today."

Sarah Nelson paid $11.00 to win and $5.20 to place. Black Ruby returned $3.00 to place. There was no show wagering.