08/11/2011 11:02AM

Santa Rosa: Road Ready faces new challenges in Robert Dupret Derby

Barbara D. Livingston
A two-time sprint stakes winner, Road Ready tries two turns and turf in the Robert Dupret Derby.

Trainer Jeff Bonde has been waiting for Saturday’s $50,000 Robert Dupret Derby at the Sonoma County Fair in Santa Rosa.

The 1 1/16-mile turf stakes for 3-year-olds gives Bonde a chance to give his multiple-stakes-winning sprinter Road Ready his first opportunity to compete in a route and to run on grass.

Road Ready has never raced longer than seven furlongs, but he is out of an Unbridled mare, which Bonde believes gives the colt support to get the distance.

“We believe he’ll be capable of routing,” said Bonde.

Although his five siblings are a combined 0 for 3 on the turf, Road Ready is by More than Ready – a strong turf sire who actually never ran on the turf. More Than Ready, a Grade 1-winning millionaire, has seen 54 of his 380 runners win their turf debuts.

“More Than Ready has been an excellent turf sire,” Bonde said. “We’ve always wanted to run [Road Ready] on the turf.”

All seven of Road Ready’s starts have come in stakes races. He won the Lost in the Fog in his debut last year and the Bachelor at Oaklawn Park in his first start this year. He also ran third in the Chick Lang at Pimlico before running fourth in the Livermore Valley Wines at Pleasanton last month.

Since that effort, Road Ready has put in a five-furlong bullet work and two strong seven-furlong works at Pleasanton and another fast five-furlong work at Santa Rosa in his final drill.

Bonde said that off those works, Road Ready should be route ready.

“We’ve lengthened his works and lengthened his gallops,” said Bonde of Road Ready, who sold for $300,000 at the Barretts sale in March.

While it sounds convincing, Road Ready will have to run much better than he did in his last start when he stalked the pace and had nothing left in the stretch in a Pleasanton sprint.

Although only one of his six rivals, the Irish-bred Memen, has won a stakes, Road Ready will be facing several runners with proven turf form.

Life Is a Rock has won a pair of allowance races on the turf, sandwiched around a fifth in his lone stakes start in the Alcatraz on the turf at Golden Gate Fields. His stablemate Cody Peak ran third in the Alcatraz.

Unbridled Endeavor was second in the Livermore Valley Wines, but was eighth in the Alcatraz, his lone route and turf try.

Stakes-placed Jerry’s Fever will also be making his turf and route debut. His stablemate Mr. Candy Bar scored his lone victory on the turf last year.