Tom’s Ready joined the millionaire’s club on Saturday when taking the $200,000 Bold Ruler Handicap (G3) at Belmont Park by three parts of a length under jockey Joel Rosario.
The G M B Racing colorbearer was sent off the 8-1 sixth choice in the nine-horse field and paid $18 for rallying eight wide in the stretch to run down Stallwalkin’ Dude. The More Than Ready four-year-old stopped the clock in 1:22.06 for seven furlongs over the fast main track.
“The pace on the front was good and he had a nice run in the end,” Rosario said. “I looked back for a second, it took him a little bit of time to really get there but he got the job done. We were a little wide going into the stretch, we were trying to be in the clear because when the dirt hits him a little in the face he doesn’t go forward, he just stays there. I was trying to make him feel comfortable.”
“I thought it was great,” assistant trainer Bentley Combs said. “There was a lot of early speed so it set up pretty well for him. He’s got a great late kick, he’s always had that, so it’s always come down to where he’s positioned in the race as to whether he can use that to get up to win.”
Stallwalkin’ Dude gained command in the stretch with a wide move of his own on the turn, but couldn’t hold off Tom’s Ready. The seven-year-old gelding took second by a nose over Beasley, who was followed under the wire by Seymourdini, 2-1 favorite Divining Rod, Green Gratto, Mr. Crow, Tale of S’avall and Awesome Banner.
Tom’s Ready added a fourth stakes win to his resume in this one to improve his career mark to 19-6-17-7. The Dallas Stewart trainee also boasts scores in the 2016 editions of the Woody Stephens Stakes (G2) and Ack Ack Handicap (G3) as well as this season’s Leemat Stakes. He’s placed in six other black-type events, including the Forego Stakes (G1), Churchill Downs Stakes (G1) and Kelso Handicap (G2) from this year, and boosted his career earnings past the million mark to $1,013,767.
Next up for the dark bay colt is the $750,000 Cigar Mile Handicap (G1) on December 2 at Aqueduct. That race will be the final start for Tom’s Ready as he heads to stud at Spendthrift Farm near Lexington, Kentucky, in 2018.
“We want to get him to the Cigar Mile, try to get him a Grade 1 win,” Combs said. “It’s an iconic race and it would be a great way for him to end his career.”
Bred in Pennsylvania by Blackstone Farm LLC, Tom’s Ready is out of the Broad Brush mare Goodbye Stranger and counts as a full brother stakes-placed Consulado. His fourth dam is champion What a Treat.
One race earlier, Eskenformoney returned to her winning ways with a head score in the $200,000 Turnback the Alarm Stakes (G3).
Jockey John Velazquez settled the Todd Pletcher trainee near the rear of the six-distaffer field early, urged her on while angling out exiting the turn and ran down Verve’s Tale while wide in the lane to complete 1 1/16 miles over the fast main track in 1:43.12.
“They were rolling along in the first part, but once I got into the position I wanted, I actually wanted to be right behind (Verve’s Tale) and I was kind of hiding behind her the whole time,” Velazquez explained. “But on the turn I was riding a long way. I haven’t ridden this horse since the second time she ran, I was thinking, ‘Man, I am working her really hard and she is not going anywhere,’ so I kept after her and made sure she stayed a little close and didn’t have to do too much.
“When the quarter-pole came, she swept down the lane and I thought she had more to get to the other horse, but then she kind of backed up from where I wanted to be. And then the last sixteenth of a mile she decided to run.”
“I thought with 60 or 70 yards left she wasn’t going to get there, but she really surged the last part,” Pletcher agreed. “I thought the race was unfolding really well and she was getting a good trip and she was resolute until the end. We had a pretty favorable post position. It left us with a lot of options.
“Sometimes she doesn’t break real alertly but it kind of helped us when they went pretty quickly up front and Johnny gave a great ride,” he added. “She’s been a great filly for us, very consistent. (She’s) a real sweetheart to train.”
Eskenformoney was the 7-2 second choice and returned $9.20 for her first win since last December’s Rampart Stakes (G3). Verve’s Tale proved best of the rest, 4 1/2 lengths up on Birdatthewire, while 3-5 favorite Miss Sky Warrior, Indian Paint and A Place to Shine completed the order of finish.
Campaigned by StarLadies Racing and Lisa Troutt, Eskenformoney earned just her second stakes win in this spot following the aforementioned Rampart. However, the five-year-old daughter of Eskendereya does show 12 stakes placings, including last year’s running of this race and third-place efforts in this season’s Beldame Stakes (G1) and Personal Ensign Stakes (G1) in her last two starts.
Eskendereya improved her career record to 28-5-7-7, $757,616 with this victory. Bred in Kentucky by Ramspring Farm, she’s out of the Not for Love mare But for Money and comes from the same female family as Grade 1 winners My Trusty Cat and Include Betty.