Courtesy of the PAULICK REPORT
G M B Racing’s Tom’s Ready is set for Saturday’s Grade 1, $750,000 Cigar Mile Handicap presented by NYRA Bets, trainer Dallas Stewart said Friday morning.
The multiple graded stakes winner by More Than Ready has been at Belmont Park since Sunday as he prepares for his seventh career Grade 1 start and his first trip to Aqueduct.
“He shipped in real good,” Stewart said. “He’s coming off a win in the Bold Ruler, so we’re happy with him. It’s a tough race, but it looks like we’ll get the pace we want, so he should be OK. The race is looking real tough, but he loves New York.”
The 4-year-old colt finished 12th in the 2016 Kentucky Derby and exited the Triple Crown trail with a win in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens on the Belmont Stakes undercard for his first career graded stakes victory. A ninth-place finish in the Grade 1 King’s Bishop was followed by a victory in the Grade 3 Ack Ack at Churchill Downs before he shipped west to Santa Anita, where he ended his campaign with a fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile
Back-to-back third-place efforts in the Grade 1 Forego on August 26 and the Grade 2 Kelso Handicap on September 26 preceded a winning effort in the Grade 3 Bold Ruler last out on October 28 at Belmont. In his 20th career start, Tom’s Ready went eight-wide into the stretch and came with a late run to best Stallwalkin’ Dude by three-quarters of a length.
The Cigar Mile will be the finale in a successful career that has netted him $1,013,767 in earnings.
“This will be his last race,” Stewart said. “He’ll go to Spendthrift Farm after his race.”
When Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith breaks from the gate aboard Tom’s Ready in Saturday’s Grade 1 Cigar Mile, it will be the first time Smith has ridden at Aqueduct since 2013 when he finished ninth aboard Laugh Track in that year’s edition of the Mile.
Smith’s last graded stakes victory at Aqueduct came when he rode Phipps Stable’s Boca Grande in the Grade 2 Comely on April 14, 2007 for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey. The last trip to Aqueduct’s winner’s circle followed in 2009 when he piloted Jay Em Ess Stable’s Launch N Relaunch around Ozone Park’s oval to a maiden-breaking win on November 28.
Smith began his career in his native New Mexico, but relocated to the Midwest before shipping his tack to New York in 1989. He was the leading rider in New York from 1991 to 1993, leading in victories with 330, 297 and 313, respectively. The following year, he rode Lure to his first Breeders’ Cup win, in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Smith moved west in 2000 to make his home base in California, but has shipped east to New York to ride major commitments in graded stakes races, doing so with success.
His most recent victories have come aboard Abel Tasman in the Grade 1 Acorn, Songbird in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps and West Coast in the Grade 1 Travers.
Smith, who won the Eclipse Award as Outstanding Jockey in 1993 and 1994, was inducted to the Racing Museum and Hall of Fame in 2003. The 52-year-old has 5,430 wins, and has earned $305,240,852 from 32,966 starts as of Friday, according to Equibase. He leads all riders in Breeders’ Cup victories with 26.