With his horse 15th in a 14-post field, trainer Dallas Stewart perhaps could expect Tom’s Ready would get a spot in Saturday’s Lecomte Stakes at the Fair Grounds.
All he needed was for one horse to be scratched. And that’s what happened Wednesday when Mike Stidham-trained Noble Thought was pulled from the race with a fracture in his right front leg.
“You never know,” Stewart said on expecting a scratch. “It’s unfortunate that horse got hurt. … I just feel like Tom’s Ready deserves this chance.”
Tom’s Ready, replacing the No. 6 horse Noble Thought, means GMB Racing, owned by Gayle Benson, the wife of Saints owner Tom Benson, will have two in the Lecomte, which kicks off the Road to the Louisiana Derby. Mo Tom, the favorite trained by Tom Amoss, is No. 7. Because both are owned by Gayle Benson, Tom’s Ready was made an also-eligible at No. 15, only able to get in after a scratch.
Sources said two other horses also will be scratched when post positions become official Saturday — the No. 1 horse, Riding the Wind, owned by Bobby Franklin and trained by Jose Lopez, and No. 8, Steve Asmussen-trained Battle Tap, owned by Joan and Ron Winchell. Battle Tap instead will run in an allowance race on Monday.
“Tom’s Ready and Mo Tom, also owned by GMB Racing, are both two very nice horses,” Stewart said. “So, we’re happy to represent them. I think (Gayle Benson) will be very well represented here.”
The two finished one-two in the Street Sense “Stars of Tomorrow” on Nov. 1 at Churchill Downs, with Mo Tom winning by a length. After that, in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, Mo Tom finished third and Tom’s Ready eighth.
Mo Tom is the 7-2 favorite, and Tom’s Ready is in at 5-1. No. 2 Fish Trappe Road is at 6-1, along with No. 3 Uncle Walter and No. 13 Destin. No. 10 Pinnacle Road is at 8-1, followed by No. 5 Dolphus and No. 11 Tiznoble (10-1), No. 4 Z Royal (15-1), No. 12 Mending Fences and No. 14 Tarpon Bay Road (20-1) and No. 9 Indygo Breeze (50-1). Z Royal, trained by D. Wayne Lukas, will have jockey Victor Espinoza, who last year rode American Pharoah to the first Triple Crown in 37 years.
Stewart is optimistic concerning Tom’s Ready after he performed well in his only previous race at the Fair Grounds — an allowance race last month. Tom’s Ready finished second to Pinnacle Peak.
“He was in an allowance race at the Fair Grounds three or four weeks ago, a two-turn race, and got beat by a head,” Stewart said. “It looks like he’s shaping up OK.”