Ready to Act's first attempt at a graded stakes win literally resulted in near disaster. Clearly in front in last September's Grade II Natalma Stakes, the daughter of More Than Ready basically did a left-hand turn in the stretch, unseating her rider and nearly causing a pile up in her wake.
Safe to say, Sunday's outing in the Grade III Beaumont Stakes at Keeneland was a slightly less eventful with a more satisfying result. Rallying from last in the seven-horse field, Ready to Act lived up to her billing as the 9-to-5 favorite when she kicked on for a half-length win over Sweet Whiskey to win the 29th edition of the Beaumont.
After making a sweeping move on the far outside to set sights on pacesetter Richies Party Girl, Ready to Act tried to run a little green in the lane of the 7-furlong, 184-foot distance of the Beaumont. Eclipse Award-winning Javier Castellano did an artful job of keeping the gray filly to task as she notched her third win from six career starts.
"She had a race as a 2-year-old up in Canada (the Natalma) where she was clearly in front and lost the jock and lost her chance to win a Grade II," trainer Chad Brown said. "Javier did a great job once again keeping her straight. As you can see, she's a work in progress. We still have some things to work out with her, but if we do get her running straight down the lane she's probably going to gain a few lengths."
Ready to Act's usual style has been to sit just off the lead in her races. A change in game plan for the Beaumont meant that Brown was not panicking, however, when he saw her at the rear of the field with six rivals still to pass as the field reached the half-mile mark in :47.47.
"That was the plan, just to sit off the pace and make one run," Brown said. "With the cut back to one turn, we figured she'd be off the pace a little bit, and in her maiden race, she came off the pace. I felt comfortable that could work for her.
"She's really trained well; we're just trying to find her niche. We'll probably look at running one turn at about 7 furlongs, that's probably where we'll keep her."
When Castellano did hit the go button, Ready to Act responded with a huge surge in a five-wide path. Katie's Eyes tried to battle on just inside of her, but Ready to Act showed the same fight that allowed her to win her seasonal bow in the Sweetest Chant Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 26.
"She gave me a good run in the last part," Castellano said. "She tried to lug in, but I don't think it was a big deal. I like the way she did it today. It was a great performance."
Owned by Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence, Ready to Act hit the wire in 1:28.08 over the Polytrack. Sweet Whiskey was three-quarters of a length in front of Katie's Eyes for second.
"We thought she'd shoot through there but she didn't go in there like I thought she would," said John Velazquez, jockey of Sweet Whiskey.
Alicia Wincze Hughes: (859) 231-1676. Blog: horseracing.bloginky.com. Twitter: @horseracinghl.