Spa Star set for Woodward Stakes

More Than Ready’s racing and stud career has been inexorably linked with the iconic Saratoga summer meet in upstate New York.

The Vinery legend won the 1999 Sanford Stakes Gr.2 and 2000 King’s Bishops Stakes Gr.1 at Saratoga and among his Spa stars is current-day celebrity Catholic Boy.

The Jonathon Thomas-trained 4yo won the 2017 With Anticipation Stakes Gr.3 and 2018 Travers Stakes Gr.1 and is targeting a Saratoga three-peat in the $750,000 Woodward Stakes Gr.1 on August 31.

Catholic Boy returned to Saratoga’s dirt track last Friday morning for an easy 800m workout in 52.06s following his second in the Suburban Stakes Gr.2 at Belmont Park last month.  He came out of that race with some cuts to the near-hind leg that needed time to heal.

“They weren’t terrible but they would have reopened if he continued training,” Thomas said.  “I definitely wanted him to have an easy breeze, and I thought he moved well and he wanted to jump up and gallop out.  That was actually the best part of the work.  We’re on a schedule for the Woodward.”

Thomas also is flirting with the idea of going back to the turf in a race like the Woodbine Mile Gr.1 in Canada on September 14.  He’s 5 for 6 on grass.

Later on Friday, More Than Ready sired his 9th individual 2yo winner in North America this year when Voting Agreement won an 1100m maiden on debut at Saratoga.  She broke a step slow but moved up behind the leaders under some urging from Javier Castellano before moving clear for a two-length victory.

Voting Agreement (2f More Than Ready – Vero Amore by Mineshaft) is the second foal of a mare who won twice and was runner-up in the 2014 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes Gr.2 at Pimlico.  Swilcan Stables bought her for $130,000 out of the consignment from Brookdale Sales.

Chad Brown trains Voting Agreement and he was also represented by More Than Ready’s British-bred mare Uni in the Fourstardave Hcp Gr.1 at Saratoga on Saturday.  She started favourite but had a rough time in transit when third to Get Stormy.

More Than Ready 2yo Noose came from last to finish second in the Saratoga Special Gr.2 on Saturday.  He had won by five lengths first-up at Churchill Downs but he was also out of luck for trainer Eddie Kenneally and owner Joseph Sutton

“The inside post wasn’t ideal and he took the brunt of it,” Kenneally said.  “The horse is brave and kept running.  He was second-best today but we’re very pleased.”

Noose will head back to the Twin Spires for the Iroquois Stakes Gr.3 on September 14.  It’s a “Win and You’re In” challenge race for the Breeders’ Cup.

More Than Ready ($55,000) heads the Vinery roster this year alongside All Too Hard ($27,500), Star Turn ($22,000), Headwater ($16,500), Press Statement ($16,500), Pluck ($6,600) & Casino Prince ($6,600).  All fees (inc. GST).

More Than Ready star returns to worktab at Saratoga last Friday