Todd Pletcher trainee Ready’s Image took advantage of an erratic performance by Fed Watcher to win the $150,000 Sanford Stakes (gr. II) (VIDEO) by four lengths Thursday at Saratoga Race Course for owner James Scatuorchio.
Ridden by John Velazquez, the 2-year-old bay son of More Than Ready broke on top from the outside post and settled in a good position behind the front-running Fed Watcher, who pushed the pace through early fractions of :22.08 and :45.30. Ready’s Image, the odds-on choice, raced three wide in third along the backstretch and took the lead in the upper stretch, when Fed Watcher drifted out and suddenly veered to the center of the track.
“Around the turn, he was just looking at (Fed Watcher),” said Velazquez. “I got mad at him, kind of slapped him on the shoulder and grabbed him, and as soon as he got ahead of that horse, he got serious. He got into a nice gear and went on.”
Once clear, Ready's Image raced to a three-length lead at the furlong pole and drew off, finishing six furlongs in an easy 1:09.90 over the fast track. Barclay Tagg trainee Tale of Ekati got up for second while The Roundhouse, also trained by Pletcher and a half-brother to Circular Quay, was third.
“We thought about whether we should pass this race and point for the Special, but we decided we’d be in a better position here,” said Pletcher, who won last year’s running of the Sanford with 2007 Florida Derby (gr. I) winner Scat Daddy. “I got a little concerned when Fed Watcher swung out but at that point I thought we were clear of him. (Ready’s Image) was probably a little intimidated by him, but he has room to improve.”
Ready’s Image paid $3.80, $3 and $25.0. Tale of Ekati and jockey Cornelio Velasquez returned $5.70 and $4.50 to place, and The Roundhouse paid $5.40 to show with Garrett Gomez.
Pletcher recalled purchasing the colt at the Keeneland September yearling sales for $410,000 in 2006.
“When we saw him at Keeneland he was the spitting image of More Than Ready,” the trainer remarked. The colt's sire won the 1999 renewal of the Sanford.
Pletcher said Ready's Image will be pointed toward the Sept. 3 Hopeful Stakes (gr. I).