Sanford: Ready's Image filling big shoes

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- Trainer Todd Pletcher has said several times that Ready's Image bears a strong resemblance to his father, More Than Ready. Pletcher hopes that he can keep making those comparisons after Ready's Image runs in Thursday's Grade 2, $150,000 Sanford Stakes at Saratoga.

More Than Ready won the first five races of his career, capped by a 9o3/4-length romp in the 1999 Sanford. Though Ready's Image has already lost once, he nearly duplicated his father's victory in the Tremont last month, winning by 7 3/4 lengths in a time of 1:02.86, just .30 of a second slower than More Than Ready's.

The Sanford is the feature race on the second day of the meet. Paying fans will receive a commemorative bobble-head doll of Hall of Fame jockey Angel Cordero.

Ready's Image won a maiden race at Keeneland in April then came back and finished third in the Kentucky Breeders' Cup, a race run over a sloppy track. Pletcher believes Ready's Image didn't care for the slop. He added blinkers to the colt's equipment for the Tremont, which seemed to help him break better.

"He trained very impressively leading up to that and ran very well," Pletcher said. "Basically the long-term decision process comes down to the fact the Sanford puts him in a position to run in the Hopeful, which is a Grade 1.

Pletcher said that is why he is running Thursday and pointing Ready's Image to the Hopeful, run Sept. 3, rather than waiting for the Saratoga Special on Aug. 16 and then running him in the Futurity at Belmont on Sept. 15, which is a Grade 2 stakes.

John Velazquez rides Ready's Image from post 9.

Pletcher will also send out The Roundhouse, a half-brother to last year's Hopeful winner, Circular Quay. In his debut, The Roundhouse rallied from eight lengths back under Chris DeCarlo to win a five-furlong maiden race at Monmouth Park.

"It unfolded exactly like I thought it would," Pletcher said. "I told Chris the horse should probably break okay, but he's not real quick. Just let him settle into stride and hopefully he'll be running on well late. He ran on real well late."

Garrett Gomez rides The Roundhouse from post 6.

Fed Watcher, a gelded son of Songandaprayer, was visually impressive winning a five-furlong maiden race at Belmont by 1 1/2 lengths, timed in 56.10 seconds.

Like Fed Watcher, Tale of Ekati showed superior early speed winning a 5 1/2-furlong maiden race by 8 1/4 lengths at Belmont, running the distance in 1:03.50. He comes back in three weeks, though, and lost his regular rider, Eibar Coa to Fed Watcher. Cornelio Velasquez rides Tale of Ekati, who drew the rail.