02/17/2011 4:37PM

Leading juvenile sire of 2010: More Than Ready


More Than Ready has long been a popular commodity with Australian breeders. One of two Vinery stallions to lead sire lists in 2010, he has shuttled between Vinery’s Kentucky and Australian divisions since he entered stud in 2001 as Vinery owner Tom Simon’s first major stallion purchase.

More Than Ready’s stud career has been on a slower burn in North America, but he grabbed the spotlight in 2010, when a pair of his 2-year-olds, Pluck and More Than Real, won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and Juvenile Fillies Turf. They were among five juvenile stakes winners last year who represented More Than Ready.

A 14-year-old by Southern Halo, More Than Ready was a record-setting, Grade 1-winning sprinter. Although he never ran on the turf, grass clearly has not been a problem: His precocious runners on Australia’s grass courses made him the country’s leading freshman sire and two-time leading juvenile sire well before Pluck and More Than Real arrived in the Breeders’ Cup winner’s circle.

“Here’s a horse that was precocious at 2 and went on and showed great consistency and talent at 3,” Vinery president Tom Ludt said. “He really wasn’t a grass horse, but because Tom Simon owned the farm in Australia, he could shuttle horses. He hit really quick down there and, ironically, became popular down there much quicker than he did up here.”

More Than Ready’s Northern Hemisphere runners have included talented turf performers, such as Group 1-placed Traffic Guard in England and multiple graded winner Ready’s Gal, as well as graded winners on dirt. Now Vinery hopes More Than Ready’s leading juvenile sire title in the U.S. will wake more people up to his potential as a sire for all surfaces.

“He’s been extremely consistent here,” Ludt said of More Than Ready’s North American record. “One of the things that’s unique about him is that, while he hasn’t had that Grade 1 winner here yet, he’s got that consistency, and his horses run and run a lot. If you go down the list, you’ll see multiple horses running 30 times if you keep them in training. I think what’s helping him now is that we do have a transition going back toward breeding racehorses versus breeding for commercial sales appeal. Let’s face it − horses can sell well, but if they don’t run, people go cold on them.”

The opposite is gradually happening with More Than Ready, Ludt said. His book size and fee have grown over the years as More Than Ready’s runners have performed well. A higher stud fee often means better-quality mares, and that could give More Than Ready another leg up in 2011.

“The year he stood for $60,000, those foals are just now turning 2,” Ludt said. “We’re thinking he’s finally getting the rewards he deserves. Breeders’ Cup day was a huge day for us. But he’s been more a quiet, slow grind in the Northern Hemisphere versus the freshman sensation of a Congrats.”

Like Congrats, who moves from Vinery’s Florida operation to its Kentucky farm this year, More Than Ready got a fee raise for 2011. He went from $30,000 to $40,000 at a time when the stallion market is highly competitive for a smaller group of mares. That’s a sign of Vinery’s confidence in More Than Ready, Ludt said.

“You can use all kinds of parameters to measure yourself, but the best measure is the public,” he said. “Right now, when stallions are struggling and both of those are booked full, we know we’ve done something right with them.”

More Than Ready is out of the Woodman winner Woodman’s Girl, a half-sister to Grade 1 winner and stakes producer Bail Out Becky. The family also has produced millionaire Grade 1 winners Cutlass Reality and Ten Most Wanted, among other graded winners on dirt.

Vinery expects to book 120 mares to More Than Ready in each hemisphere in 2011.