03/11/2011 3:56PM

Pletcher's Aqueduct pair tough to separate


OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Highlighting the Todd Pletcher stable’s assault on Aqueduct’s inner track this winter has been the fact it has won 13 stakes races with nine different horses. The barn figures to add to those totals in Sunday’s $60,000 Out Ruled Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

But handicappers will have to decide whether Pletcher will win the race with Buster’s Ready or R Holiday Mood, who comprise 40-percent of the field. The Out Ruled, run at a mile and 70 yards, shares billing with the $60,000 Sweet Envoy Stakes for New York-bred 3-year-old males.

Buster’s Ready, a daughter of More Than Ready, is the more accomplished and more seasoned of the two, but R Holiday Mood was visually impressive winning a maiden race on Feb. 12, in her second career start, first around two turns. Though R Holiday Mood’s margin of victory was a mere neck, the filly she beat, Royal Sighting, came back to win a maiden race by 12 3-4 lengths here on Wednesday.

“Seeing her train and the way she galloped out, we were looking forward to stretching her out, and it seemed to help her,” said Jonathan Thomas, who has overseen Pletcher’s New York operation this winter, which has won a meet-best 34 races entering Friday’s card. “Even though we were on the lead, I don’t think that necessarily has to be her style.”

Thomas mentioned that Buster’s Ready and R Holiday Mood breezed in company on March 5 in preparation for the Out Ruled. Both were timed in 48.21 seconds for a half-mile.

“It was a visually impressive work for both of them,” Thomas said. “Very little separated them to the wire, very little separated them galloping out.”

Buster’s Ready has won 2 races from 5 starts, and her three losses have all come to subsequent stakes winners. Two starts back, Buster’s Ready finished second to It’s Tricky, who is undefeated from three starts including an eight-length victory in the Busher. In her last start, Buster’s Ready roared to a 10 3/4-length victory in a starter allowance going two turns over the inner track.

“She’s developed a lot over the winter, muscled up and just grown,” Thomas said. “Her last two starts have given her a lot of confidence too; she’s figured out racing.”

Her proven ability to rate may give Buster’s Ready an edge. David Cohen rides Buster’s Ready from the rail.

Portside and Vixen’s Roar, third and fifth, respectively in the Busher, and Le Mi Geaux, last year’s Grade 3 Schuylerville winner, complete the field.