There are plenty of reasons for Ready’s Echo to not prove contentious in the June 7 Belmont Stakes (gr. I). But a stunning late run to third in the May 10 Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II) demands respect for the maiden winner, especially at the Belmont’s 1 ½-mile distance.
Bucked shins kept the Todd Pletcher-trained son of More Than Ready from causing much of a stir after his racing debut at Saratoga last summer. There, in a 5 ½-furlong maiden special weight, he raced 25 ¾ lengths behind the front-runner in a nine horse field and was still last, 11 ¾ lengths off the leader, at the head of the stretch. But once he got rolling under jockey John Velazquez, the colt unleashed a powerful late run to finish second behind Z Humor, who would eventually run 14th in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands.
“He just doesn’t break good out of the gate,” said Velazquez, who has ridden the colt in all of his four career starts. “He doesn’t leap out at all, he just kind of goes forward and doesn’t get rolling. I’ve tried in the past to send him along and he doesn’t like it. The first time I rode him and went to send him he almost pulled up on me, so I’ve learned to just leave him alone until he gets comfortable.”
The physical issues resulting from the Saratoga maiden race kept Ready’s Echo from starting again until March 5 of this year. Then, going seven furlongs in another maiden special weight at Gulfstream, he trounced seven other runners after trailing the field, making his bid five wide, and drawing away to win by 3 ¼ lengths. He missed a potential second score by just a neck when he moved to Polytrack for his next start in an April 12 allowance at Keeneland.
“He came back this year a little better out of the gate but not much, and he got it done (in the maiden special weight),” Velazquez said. “Then at Keeneland on the Polytrack he broke the same way, not bad, and the pace was slower. He finished up well.”
The 1 1/8-mile Peter Pan, a race effectively ruled by Japanese starter Casino Drive, was the first graded start for Ready’s Echo. Because he trailed by 13 lengths in the early going and did not begin his run until they had gone three-quarters, it is difficult to track his trip while watching the video replay. Even turning for home, when Casino Drive gets on his way to a 5 ¾-length score, Ready’s Echo barely appears at the back of the frame. But he closes with a fantastic rally after swinging five wide, and misses second by a neck.
“That pace was a little faster so it seemed like he was further back than normal, but he came running down the lane,” the jockey said. “He just had too much ground to make up on the leader after we had to go wide.”
Should he start in the Belmont, the distance could be just what Ready’s Echo is looking for.
“I don’t think he’ll mind (the distance), especially coming from behind like he does,” Velazquez said. “(If he starts in the Belmont) we’ll just let him think he’s supposed to go gallop over there, and hopefully halfway up the backside or around the next turn he’ll figure out he’s gonna run. I don’t know if he can get a mile and a half, but the style might suit his style a little better.”
Bred in Kentucky by Meg and Michael Buckley out of the Kingmambo mare Menekineko, Ready’s Echo was a $100,000 purchase from the Keeneland September yearling sale in 2006. He races for Let’s Go Stable, a racing entity run by the family of well-known owner James Scatuorchio. Let’s Go Stable is managed by Scatuorchio’s son, Kevin, in partnership with son-in-law Bryan Sullivan, who is married to Scatuorchio’s daughter, Courtney.