G M B Racing’s Tom’s Ready rebounded from a poor effort in the G1 King’s Bishop to score in impressive fashion in Saturday’s G3 Ack Ack Handicap at Churchill Downs, defeating Iron Fist by a half-length on the wire. The sophomore son of More Than Ready, ridden by Brian Hernandez, closed strongly to make the lead in mid-stretch and held on late over Iron Fist, recording a final time of 1:34.86 over a mile on the good main track rated good. Tom’s Ready was trained by Dallas Stewart, and defeated Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Runhappy in his comeback race.
“We thought that if we could beat Runhappy, today was the day and our horse ran his race,” Hernandez said. “They didn’t go all that fast up front and he ran after them and ran them down his own way and proved to be the best horse today. I was pretty confident the whole way. I was sitting back behind them and I know they didn’t feel like they weren’t going all that fast but knowing my little horse and watching him run in the race he did at Belmont, I thought when I called on him that he would be able to give me that kind of run and he did.”
Runhappy was quick out of the gates under Edgar Prado, dueling with Mr. Z for the lead in the early stages of the one-turn mile. Through a first quarter in :23.08, Runhappy led by about a half-length, but Mr. Z took over in the middle of the backstretch to lead by a neck through a half-mile in :45.95. Iron Fist and Schivarelli tracked from third together, and Tom’s Ready was steady early on a couple lengths back in fifth. Turning for home, Runhappy dragged Prado to the lead by about a length, but Schivarelli was moving strongly up the outside, and Tom’s Ready was really rolling from the back of the pack four-wide on the turn.
Tom’s Ready took over the lead in the early part of the stretch, easily putting away Schivarelli, though Runhappy tried to battle on briefly. Iron Fist got clear late and made a big run down the outside, but ran out of racetrack and would finish second behind Tom’s Ready by a half-length. Schivarellli would finish third, and Runhappy tired very late to finish fourth.
“We’ll talk about it and see,” trainer Laura Wohlers said of the Breeders’ Cup. “Hopefully, but we’ll stop and see. I’m disappointed he didn’t win the race, especially when he’s such a favorite but it’s alright, he’ll do okay. As long as he comes out of the race okay, we’ll be fine. We’ll live to race another day.”
Bred in Pennsylvania by Blackstone Farm, Tom’s Ready was a $ 145,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Yearling Sale purchase. He would finish second in both the Lecomte and Louisiana Derby to earn his way into the Kentucky Derby, where he finished 12th. Dropping back in distance, the colt recorded his first graded stakes win in the Woody Stephens at Belmont, but was disappointing in the King’s Bishop. The Ack Ack is his second graded stakes victory, improving his overall record to three wins and four seconds from 13 starts, with earnings of over $ 630,000.
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