A maiden winner in a $50,000 claimer for Todd Pletcher last November at Aqueduct, Buster Ready won for the third time in six starts this year. She entered the 1 1/16-mile Mother Goose off a good runner-up effort in the May 20 Black-Eyed Susan (gr. II) at Pimlico Race Course. The decisive 4 1/4-length Mother Goose victory was the fourth for Pletcher, who took the event in 2010 with Devil May Care.
Buster’s Ready is a Virginia homebred of the Estate of Edward P. Evans. She is out of the Honour and Glory mare Beatem Buster.
With John Velazquez in the irons, Buster’s Ready raced just behind Salty Strike for six furlongs through splits of :23.55, :47.03, and 1:11.52 before taking over coming off the turn. Pletcher’s other entrant, R Gypsy Gold, was also near the pace, while beaten Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) favorite Joyful Victory sat a close fourth the whole way and was angled out for her stretch bid.
But a serious challenge never came from Joyful Victory and Ramon Dominguez, as Buster’s Ready opened up a 1 1/2-length lead at the eighth-pole and was never challenged in the final furlong. Two-time graded stakes winner Joyful Victory could only edge 26-1 R Gypsy Gold by a neck for runner-up in the late going.
The final time on the fast dirt was 1:42.44.
“We like nice surprises. She ran huge," Velazquez said. "I didn’t think I was going to be on the lead, that’s for sure. We were planning that I was going to be second or third. But she was doing it so comfortably. She was running the last part!”
After finishing off the board in two maiden special weight tries on turf to begin her career, Buster’s Ready narrowly won her first race Nov. 18 going one mile in her dirt debut. She has not been off the board in six starts this year, the wins coming in a dominating allowance score over Aqueduct’s inner track in February and a second-level allowance test on Aqueduct’s muddy main track in April. The bay filly missed by 2 1/2 lengths to Royal Delta in the Black-Eyed-Susan.
"She’s been steadily improving all winter and spring and she’s a filly we always felt wanted more distance," Pletcher said. "Her last race was sort of a breakthrough race for her and she’s kind of finding her rhythm now. She’s putting it all together and (it’s helped) being able to steadily get some route races.
"We’ll see how she comes out of it; I think the next logical step is the Coaching Club (American Oaks, gr. I at Saratoga July 23).”
Now 4-2-1 from nine career starts, Buster’s Ready has earned $290,084.
The winner paid $9.40, $3.50, and $2.40. The exacta (5-4) returned $16.60 and the trifecta (5-4-6) was worth $109.50.
Of Joyful Victory's effort, trainer Larry Jones said: “My horse ran well. The other horse showed she could run the last time.”
Salty Strike finished fourth, followed by My Assets, and Alseera, who bolted after being rank for a quarter-mile and was eventually pulled up by Alan Garcia.