05/12/2008 12:00AM

Ready's Image begins comeback in Adjudicating


ELMONT, N.Y. - Ready's Image, one of the early stars of the juvenile crop of 2007, is set to make his 3-year-old debut in Wednesday's $75,000 Adjudicating Stakes for 3-year-olds at Belmont Park.

Ready's Image, trained by Todd Pletcher, won 3 of his first 4 starts, including the Grade 2 Sanford at Saratoga and the Tremont at Belmont, before finishing second in the Gradeo1 Hopeful and getting injured while running last in the Grade 1 Champagne last October.

Pletcher said Ready's Image had a chip in the upper joint of his left knee that required surgery. Pletcher said there was no chance of getting Ready's Image to the Triple Crown trail, so early in the year he targeted the Woody Stephens, a seven-furlong race at Belmont on June 7, as his first major objective. The Adjudicating, run at 6 1/2 furlongs, is a stepping-stone to that goal.

Ready's Image, a son of More Than Ready, began breezing in late February at Palm Beach Downs in Florida, and has 10 published workouts, including a bullet five-furlong move in 59.88 seconds over Belmont's training track.

"Physically, he's grown a bit," Pletcher said."He's gotten a little taller, he's gotten a little wider, he's always trained well. He's done enough in the mornings to be fit."

John Velazquez rides Ready's Image from post 2.

The Adjudicating came up pretty salty. Smoke n' Coal, a son of Smoke Glacken, won both of his starts at Belmont as a 2-year-old before finishing fourth in a Florida-bred stakes at Calder last November. He was transferred from Sheikh Mohammed's Darley Stable to his Godolphin operation during the winter, and he finished third in a four-horse field going 6 1/2 furlongs over Keeneland's Polytrack last month.

"He was off the bridle midway around the turn and Garrett [Gomez] was niggling on him a little bit, so I don't think he cared for that surface," said Rick Mettee, who oversees Godolphin's New York division. "I do think he's come on from the race, and I expect a good race from him."

True Quality, a son of Elusive Quality, has won two straight for Paraneck Stable, and could be the main speed from the rail under C.C. Lopez.

Trainer Jimmy Jerkens sends out Desert Key, who ran six furlongs in a quick 1:08.68 winning a maiden race by two lengths at Aqueduct on Aprilo26.

"We're coming back kind of quick with him by today's standards, but you got to give your horse some experience," Jerkens said.