Already a star in Australia, More Than Ready rides rare sweep to juvenile sire title back home.
MORE THAN READY has been a top-flight commodity for several years in Australia, where he achieved the unique distinction of siring back-to-back winners of the world's richest race for two-year-olds.
In 2010, a different kind of sweep thrust the 14-year-old stallion to a new level in the Northern Hemisphere and to his first title anywhere, as North America's leading sire of juveniles. A Grade 1 winner who raced exclusively on dirt, More Than Ready has made his name in Australia as a consistent source of turf brilliance, and his American breakthrough came the same way over two days at Churchill Downs last fall.
More Than Real, a filly by More Than Ready out of Dehere mare Miss Seffens, delivered first on November 5 and scored her initial stakes win in the $909,000 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G2) for trainer Todd Pletcher and owner Bobby Flay.
Pletcher struck again the next day when Pluck, a colt by More Than Ready out of Secret Heart, by Fort Wood, uncorked a dazzling rally in the $909,000 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G2).
More Than Ready joined luminaries like Kris S., Nureyev, Sadler's Wells, and Smart Strike on a list of nine sires who have registered two Breeders' Cup winners in a single year.
The Australian feat was unprecedented-no previous sire had accounted for back-to-back winners of the AAMI Golden Slipper Stakes (Aus-G1) at Rosehill Gardens before More Than Ready's sons Sebring and Phelan Ready prevailed in 2008 and 2009, respectively.
Because of exchange rate fluctuations, the purse for the 1,200-meter Golden Slipper varied from $3,394,508 in 2008 to $2,528,210 in 2009. Both Sebring and Phelan Ready garnered year-end honors as Australia's champion two-year-old male.
More Than Ready's prominence Down Under elevated his stud fee there from 44,000 Australian dollars in 2007 to 110,000 in 2008 and a peak of 148,500 in 2009. In the most recent Southern Hemisphere season, he stood for 121,000 Australian, or approximately $110,000.
In the upcoming Northern Hemisphere season, More Than Ready will stand at Vinery's Lexington division for $40,000, an increase from $30,000 in 2010. The Southern Halo stallion out of Woodman's Girl, by Woodman, stood for $60,000 there in 2008, prior to the downturn in the bloodstock market.
"We're in our 11th year, and a horse like More Than Ready shows the success we can have making a stallion, and breeders have seen that and our loyal to us," said Tom Ludt, president of Vinery, which has been under the ownership of Dr. Tom Simon since 1999. "We've done very, very well in a short time frame. More Than Ready proved we can do very well bringing in stallions and fulfilling their potential."
In 2010, More Than Ready sired 20 winners from 71 juvenile starters who earned $2,282,616. Indian Charlie, the sire of undefeated Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) winner and probable champion Uncle Mo, ranked second in North America with $2,014,239 in juvenile progeny earnings. More Than Ready has been among the top 20 juvenile sires in all but one year since his first crop reached the races in 2004. His previous best ranking was 11th in 2007.
Also in 2010, More than Ready finished a career-best third on the general sire list with $10,708,804 in overall progeny earnings, trailing only Fusaichi Pegasus and Giant's Causeway. More Than Ready has sired 81 stakes winners and the earners of $61,554,496 from his first eight crops.
"He's been getting to better-quality mares the last few years [in the U.S.] as his stud fee has gone up, and you can see what he's done," said Edward Rosen, a bloodstock adviser who purchased More Than Ready on behalf of owner James Scatuorchio for $187,000 in the 1998 Keeneland September yearling sale. "From a pedigree perspective, I loved his female family, and it had grass, which he never got to run on, but he has proven to be a terrific grass sire. Bail Out Becky was in there, and she was a terrific grass mare. It's kind of frustrating because we never got to run him on the grass. God knows how good he might have been on the grass."
More Than Ready was plenty good and precocious on dirt as a two-year-old in 1999. He won his first five starts by a combined 36 lengths, including a 9 3/4-length romp in the Sanford Stakes (G2) at Saratoga Race Course. He returned there the next summer and collected a key Grade 1 triumph in the King's Bishop Stakes (G1).
More Than Ready began his stud career in 2001 at Vinery in Lexington, and he shuttled to Australia for the first time later that year.
"When you're a pedigree person, I think it validates it more when the horse is a successful sire, rather than just being a good racehorse," Rosen said. "There's a sense of satisfaction that the pedigree did matter."
Pletcher trained More Than Ready and was involved in the selection process when Scatuorchio bought him. He has had an up-close view of many of the sire's best runners in the U.S. Besides the Breeders' Cup-winning duo, Pletcher has trained More Than Ready's graded stakes winners Ready's Image, Ready's Gal, and Ready to Please. Scatuorchio raced all three of them.
"He will always be one of my favorite horses," Pletcher said after the Juvenile Turf. "To see him go on and do well as a sire ... and to train two offspring to win Breeders' Cup races for him, it's a very special case for me."
Pluck also won the Summer Stakes (Can-G3) at Woodbine. On the same card, More Than Real finished second in the Natalma Stakes (Can-G3), after debuting with a sharp win at Saratoga Race Course at 1 1/16 miles.
More Than Ready's three other juvenile stakes winners were Major Gain, who scored in Arlington-Washington Futurity (G3) and finished third in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2); Road Ready, a colt who prevailed on Golden Gate Fields' synthetic Tapeta Footings surface in the Lost in the Fog Stakes and finished second in the Barretts Juvenile Stakes on dirt; and the Australia-bred filly Defiant Dame, who took down the Keeneland Gimcrack Stakes at Randwick in her career debut.
Pluck may get the chance to spread More Than Ready's success to Europe. Pluck, who was transferred from Pletcher to trainer Graham Motion when owner Team Valor International moved all its horses to the Mid-Atlantic-based conditioner, Pluck is under consideration for the Irish Two Thousand Guineas (Ire-G1).
Team Valor bred the colt and raced Pluck in 2010. In December, Vinery Australia purchased an interest in Pluck that secured his Southern Hemisphere breeding rights, paving the way for him to eventually stand alongside More Than Ready at the farm in New South Wales.
"Knowing the ability and preference the More Than Ready stock have to turf we jumped at the chance to firstly be involved with this colt's racing career and secondly to secure ourselves a unique stallion prospect if all was to go well," said Peter Orton, Vinery Australia's general manager. "[The Breeders' Cup sweep elevated More Than Ready's] international profile as he forges his way to becoming one of the most significant sires worldwide."
More Than Ready achieves rare feat of siring two Breeders' Cup winners in 2010 and earns North American juvenile sire title thanks to efforts of turf standouts Pluck and More Than Real.