05/02/2016 12:06PM

Ignore Tom's Ready at your own peril

Barbara D. Livingston
Tom's Ready's trainer, Dallas Stewart, has sent out the runner-up in the Kentucky Derby two of the last three years.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Although the modest past performances of Tom’s Ready would suggest that he is a horse unlikely to challenge in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, the past performances of his trainer, Dallas Stewart, tell a different story. For three consecutive years, a Stewart-trained longshot has run second in one of the legs of the Triple Crown.

Golden Soul ran behind Orb in the 2013 Derby at 34-1 odds, Commanding Curve finished behind California Chrome in the 2014 Derby at 37-1, and Tale of Verve checked in behind American Pharoah in last year’s Preakness at 28-1.

“For all the bettors, I’m glad I’m keeping them happy,” Stewart said while watching horses train on the backstretch this week.

Tom’s Ready shares more than a trainer in common with the longshots who blew up the exactas in those races. Like them, he is a horse with a single victory.

Asked to compare Tom’s Ready to his Derby runners-up, Stewart said, “I think he’s even a step ahead of them because he was second in the Louisiana Derby.”

Golden Soul and Commanding Curve were third and fourth in the same race.

“His only bad race through the winter was the Risen Star,” Stewart said, referring to a seventh-place finish at Fair Grounds on Feb. 20. “He had a foot issue coming out of the Lecomte, and I think it compromised his training for the Risen Star. He was just too fresh.”

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His foot was healed for the Louisiana Derby, and the bar shoe was removed. He returned to form and was beaten 4 1/2 lengths by Gun Runner. And his works over the past month at Churchill Downs have left Stewart further encouraged. They were capped by a five-furlong move Friday in 59.40 seconds, the third-fastest of 53 at the distance on that busy morning.

Tom’s Ready was also second in the Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds over the winter. Last year, Tom’s Ready recorded a maiden victory in September at Churchill, followed by runner-up finish in the Street Sense Stakes there.

His only noncompetitive effort at Churchill Downs came when he ran eighth in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes last November over a sloppy track, conditions he is unlikely to experience Saturday. The long-range forecast calls for sunny skies on Derby Day.

A 3-year-old son of More Than Ready, Tom’s Ready is one of two horses owned by GMB Racing running in the Derby, with the other being Mo Tom. Brian Hernandez Jr., aboard in the Louisiana Derby, has the return mount on Tom’s Ready.