Runway Ready Steps Up in Sunday’s $75,000 Ladies Turf Sprint
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL– Last spring, Runway Ready was running for a $35,000 claiming tag. On Sunday afternoon, the Mr. Greeley filly goes after a $75,000 purse in the eighth running of the Ladies Turf Sprint at Gulfstream Park.
The five-furlong Ladies Turf Sprint marks the stakes debut for 4-year-old Runway Ready, an older half-sister to recently retired Grade 2 winner Corfu, is trained by Gary Contessa for owner Lee Pokoik.
“I bought her before Corfu was Corfu, so we’ve had a lot of offers,” said Contessa of his recent Gulfstream starter-allowance winner. “As soon as Corfu became Corfu, I said, ‘That’s the end of me running her for a claiming price.’ She has trained brilliantly. She had a chip in her ankle, probably about midyear last year. We took the chip out, and she has come back fantastic. And, she is fast.”
Bred in Kentucky, Runway Ready broke her maiden going 1 1/16 miles at Gulfstream last January in her fifth career start. She ran four more times in her 2013 campaign, capped by a front-running 5 ½-length score in a seven-furlong $35,000 claimer at Belmont Park on May 30.
“I guess we were lucky that day, because we ran her for $35,000, but it opened up a lot of avenues for her,” Contessa said. “She’s fast, and I’m really looking forward to this race because she trained brilliantly before, and she’s trained brilliantly since. She gets the acid test on Sunday.”
Runway Ready will break from the No. 7 post under jockey Julien Leparoux, who was aboard for her gate-to-wire victory at Gulfstream on Jan. 19, when she ran five furlongs in 55.40 seconds after splits of 21.15 and 43.63.
“If you’re going to try to beat me to the lead, you’re going to have to have a very fast horse,” Contessa said. “She’s a bigger, stronger version of the filly that I had last year, so she’s really eye candy right now. She’s doing really well.”
Among the 10-horse field for the Ladies Turf Sprint are Grade 3-placed Queen’s Award; Allwewantforxmas, Cor Cor, Madam Giry and Giulio’s Jewel, who ran second, fourth, fifth and 12th, respectively, in the Lightning City Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on Jan. 25; Believe in Charlie, a five-furlong turf allowance winner at Gulfstream on Jan. 16 for trainer Tom Bush; and My Due Process, who was last of seven behind Groupie Doll in the Hurricane Bertie (G3) at Gulfstream on Feb. 9.
Sunday’s card also includes the $75,000 Ten Palms for older fillies and mares going one mile on the grass. Byrama, winner of the Vanity Handicap (G1) at Hollywood Park last summer, makes her first start for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. The 5-year-old English-bred mare has run in eight consecutive graded stakes, finishing second by a neck in the Madison (G1) at Keeneland and third in the Clement L. Hirsch (G1) at Del Mar in August.
Also in the 10-horse field are multiple stakes winner Alaura Michele for meet-leading trainer Todd Pletcher; graded stakes-placed Celestial Kitten, Long Face, Street Gem, Toasting and Wholelottashakin; and She’s Spooky, who has three wins and three seconds from eight lifetime starts at Gulfstream for trainer Alan Benning.