A change of tactics sparked a change of fortunes for Donegal Racing’s Ready to Purrform in Friday’s $200,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame (G2) at Saratoga. Under a heady ride by Joel Rosario, the Brad Cox trainee showed uncharacteristic speed to go wire to wire on the inner turf.
The pace figured to come from inside, with the rail-drawn Chanceux and Dowagiac Chief in post 2. After the scratch of Dowagiac Chief, though, Rosario seized the initiative. Ready to Purrform dashed past Chanceux, clocked the opening quarter in :23.66, and got comfortable in his newfound role.
Tiz the Bomb, the 2.70-1 favorite, stalked through the half in :47.17, but began to lose position passing six furlongs in 1:10.72. As Double Clutch tried to make a run in upper stretch, Celestial City advanced into the picture.
Yet Ready to Purrform was still rolling, and the son of the late champion Kitten’s Joy built up an insurmountable lead. Wit, well back early after a bumpy break, unleashed a fine rally for second in his turf debut. The joint 3.90-1 second choice with Ready to Purrform, Wit trimmed the winner’s margin to 1 1/4 lengths.
Celestial City stayed on willingly another half-length back in third. Tiz the Bomb was in the mix for a placing until inside the final sixteenth, when retreating to fourth. But the favorite did outduel fifth-placer Double Clutch. Next came Wow Whata Summer, Stolen Base, and Chanceux, who was restrained once Ready to Purrform passed him early, and never factored thereafter.
By polishing off the firm-turf mile in 1:33.99, Ready to Purrform paid $9.80 and improved his resume to 6-3-1-1, $263,100. His prior stakes win, in last fall’s Laurel Futurity, came in last-to-first fashion.
“He (Cox) told me to get him out and see where we are,” Rosario said, “and it looked like I could have gone to the lead at that point. I just let him find his stride forward and if any other horse decided to go, we would let them go. We were in control at that point, so I just let him do his thing.
“He put in a nice run today. He showed a different style by going to the lead, but he was able to keep it going with that speed. He looked like he was enjoying everything up there, and he just kept going with the speed he has.”
Cox commented on how Rosario made sure to warm the chestnut up pre-race, to have him ready to execute.
“It didn’t look like there was much speed on paper,” Cox noted. “It looked like the one (Chanceux) would go and maybe we could track that colt, but he didn’t get away quite as well as we did. Joel did take this colt away and let him warm up a bit because that was the intent on being forwardly placed with the lack of speed on paper.
“Overall, I’m very proud of the performance. I thought it was a big race. This was a good group of horses in here. He showed up and put them away turning for home and he really ran well.”
Ready to Purrform was coming off a third in the July 4 Manila S. to Annapolis, the morning-line favorite in Saturday’s Saratoga Derby (G1). Two back in his sophomore bow in the James W. Murphy S. on Preakness Day, he just missed to Maryland celebrity Joe.
“I thought the horse at Pimlico (Joe) maybe had a little more of a ground-saving trip,” Cox said. “We might have been a touch wide and they got a little better trip than us that day. But overall, he’s performed well.
“He ran well last time in the Manila, but he did get a little warm on us,” his trainer added. “He’s a little bit of a hot-blooded colt and it’s got hot out today, but I thought he settled a little better today in the paddock and maybe warming up before the race he was a little settled as opposed to the way he was at Belmont last time.”
Ready to Purrform’s tactical speed will be an asset going further.
“I do think he’ll stretch out,” Cox said. “I think he’s bred to stretch out. He showed the new dimension today of being forwardly placed, and we’ll start talking about races a mile and an eighth and beyond that even. It may be more of a benefit and an advantage because sometimes there is a lack of pace in these turf races at a mile and an eighth and beyond.”
Jerry Crawford of Donegal Racing is already thinking of his September target.
“He’s dead game. I think we saw a whole new dimension today, and don’t be surprised if you see this horse at Kentucky Downs.”
Bred by Bonne Chance Farm in Kentucky, Ready to Purrform was purchased for $150,000 as a Fasig-Tipton yearling. His dam, the More Than Ready mare Elementar, is a half-sister to Canadian champion turf male Grand Adventure, from the further family of undefeated Saratoga Six and multiple Grade 1 star Lakeway.