07/09/2017 9:20PM

Tom's Ready forges way to victory in Leemat Stakes

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Coady Photography
Tom's Ready took his first victory of the year with his Leemat Stakes triumph.

Multiple graded stakes winner Tom's Ready had to work for it as the heavy favorite, but still made his first visit to his home state a winning one with a victory in the $100,000 Leemat Stakes for Pennsylvania-breds Sunday night at Presque Isle Downs.

This was the first victory of the year for Tom's Ready ($2.80), winner of last year's Grade 2 Woody Stephens Stakes and Grade 3 Ack Ack Stakes for G N B Racing and trainer Dallas Stewart. The More Than Ready colt finished third, beaten less than a length, in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes on a wet track off more than a six-month layoff before finishing seventh in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont.

With his victory in the Leemat - which his connections intended to use as a springboard into summer competition at Saratoga - Tom's Ready now sports a career mark of 17-4-4-1 with a bankroll of $803,767.

Tom’s Ready, with Brian Hernandez Jr. in the irons, was unhurried while sixth of eight through the opening half. The colt rallied five wide on the second turn to loom into contention. Despite lugging in – bumping Hollywood Talent, who was fading from the scene after stalking the pace – Tom’s Ready continued his momentum to forge his way to the lead in midstretch. He fought on well when collared late to prevail by a head at the wire over Edge of Reality, who rallied furiously after trailing the field early and swinging six wide into the lane.

Tom’s Ready completed the mile on the all-weather track – a surface he was racing on for the first time – in 1:37.16.

After Edge of Reality, it was 3 1/2 lengths back to his entrymate Duff in third.

Imply wins Northern Fling

One race earlier, Imply pulled off a mild upset in the $100,000 Northern Fling Stakes for statebred fillies and mares. Power of Snunner, favored off an open-company stakes victory in the Obeah, never threatened while finishing fourth.

Imply ($15) was sixth, about five lengths back, through an honest opening half of 48.06 seconds run by Great Soul. The filly steadily made up ground while three wide under Julio Hernandez to take aim on the clear leader once straightened away into the stretch. Imply reeled in Great Soul in the final furlong and powered clear to win by 1 3/4 lengths, finishing the mile in 1:37.04.

Five lengths behind runner-up Great Soul came Lucabunny, who edged Power of Snunner by a half-length for third.

This was the second career stakes victory for Imply, a daughter of E Dubai trained by E.B. Houghton. The filly came into the Northern Fling off a runner-up effort, beaten just a neck, in the Lyphard Stakes in June at Penn National.