James T. Scatuorchio's More Than Ready, five wide as they straightened for home, closed gamely down the center of the track to win the $200,000 King's Bishop (gr. I) by 1 1/2 lengths Saturday at Saratoga. The win in the seven-furlong race is his first since he finished on equal terms with Summer Note in the seven-furlong Hutcheson (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park in January, and his first ever grade I triumph.
On a fast track, Valiant Halory finished second to complete a $58 exacta. Millencolin came home third. followed by Left Bank, Bevo, and Wake At Noon.
Wake At Noon broke quickly from the inside as More Than Ready, under Pat Day, dropped back to last through the early going. Wake At Noon and Left Bank dueled through opening fractions of :21.90 and :44.30 while Millencolin dropped off the pace as the field raced into the turn. More Than Ready began to move on the turn and was forced wide into the stretch as the leaders tired. More Than Ready continued well through the stretch to complete the seven-furlongs in 1:22.49.
"I really didn't have to push on him to get him into the race, I just let him relax and find his own way into it," said Day. "I had lost the tapes of his races, but knew he had a quick burst of speed, but a short one. We settled beautifully, and he took of when I asked him to run."
As a juvenile, More Than Ready (Southern Halo--Woodman's Girl, by Woodman) quickly established himself as among the best of his generation by winning his first five races, including the Sanford (gr. II) at Saratoga -- by 9 3/4-lengths over Mighty -- and the Tremont (gr. III) at Belmont Park. His reputation, however, was tarnished by a brief fall campaign, in which he finished third in the Futurity (gr. I) and fifth in the Champagne (gr. I). He once again displayed his early promise in his sophomore debut in the Hutcheson, as he and Summer Note finished in a dead heat, 8 1/4 lengths ahead of the third-place finisher. Stretched out for a Triple Crown campaign, More Than Ready finished no worse than fourth in his five sophomore route stakes but failed to win a race in that time. The King's Bishop marks his seventh career win from 14 races, all those wins coming in sprints. The Todd Pletcher trainee, bred in Kentucky by Woodlyn Farm Inc., earned $120,000 for the victory.
"We always knew this was plan B; that if he couldn't stretch out, he could go back to sprinting," said Pletcher. "We thought it was important to get a grade I on More Than Ready's resume."
More Than Ready paid $4.60, $3.20, and $2.60. Valiant Halory returned $11 and $4.30. Millencolin paid $4.80.
Pletcher said More Than Ready may be pointed toward the seven-furlong Vosburgh (gr. I) and the six-furlong Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I). (Chart, Equibase