06/11/2016 3:32PM

Tom's Ready goes from last to first in Woody Stephens Stakes

Debra A. Roma
Tom's Ready, with Joel Rosario aboard, wins the Woody Stephens Stakes by 1 1/4 lengths Saturday.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Trainer Dallas Stewart said he wasn’t too happy with Joel Rosario after his ride on Forever Unbridled, who had to settle for second in the Grade 1, $1 million Ogden Phipps Stakes.

About 90 minutes later, however, Stewart and Rosario were best buddies again after Rosario guided the Stewart-trained Tom’s Ready from last in a field of 12 to a 1 1/4-length victory in Saturday’s Grade 2, $500,000 Woody Stephens Stakes at Belmont Park.

“That was a great ride, wasn’t it?” Stewart said after Rosario altered course and split horses in midstretch to get the victory. “This was like a [Angel] Cordero ride.”

Tom’s Ready was cutting back to seven furlongs following a 12th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. Tom’s Ready had recorded his only previous win going seven furlongs in a maiden race last September at Churchill Downs.

That day, Tom’s Ready won with the addition of blinkers. On Saturday, he won with Stewart having removed the blinkers for the first time in nine starts.

“I just figured I’m going to take them off,” Stewart said. “He worked good when I took them off.”

Stewart expected Tom’s Ready to be laying fourth or fifth. Instead, he was last of 12, about 14 lengths back of Justin Squared, who rocketed out to the lead under Martin Pedroza and ran an opening quarter in 21.77 seconds and a half-mile in 44.40.

Fish Trappe Road, under Luis Saez, stalked Justin Squared through those fast fractions and took the lead turning for home. In deep stretch, Fish Trappe Road began to drift out badly. Rosario had Tom’s Ready on the move and was planning to go outside until he saw Fish Trappe Road drifting out, taking Star Hill with him.

“I could see they were drifting out, so I made the decision to go inside because I didn’t want to stop my momentum,” Rosario said. “He was running really hard, and I didn’t want to stop him.”

Darting back to the inside, Rosario found plenty of room as Tom’s Ready drew clear for the win. He ran seven furlongs in 1:21.38 and returned $17.20 to win.

“He looked like Darren Sproles,” Stewart said.

Sproles is a former running back for the New Orleans Saints. Tom’s Ready is owned by Tom and Gayle Benson, the owners of the Saints.

Fish Trappe Road held second, three-quarters of a length over Star Hill. He was followed by Sharp Azteca, the 3-1 favorite, Dig Deep, Tale of S’avall, Seymourdini, Counterforce, Awesome Gent, Mrazek, Justin Squared, and Imperial Hint.

Stewart said the victory in the Woody Stephens helped make up for Forever Unbridled’s loss in the Phipps.

“That was a tough beat,” Stewart said. “I don’t think he was real happy with a couple of decisions that he made, but he gives you 110 percent. You can’t really knock the guy. It is what it is. It’s horse racing – if you can’t take a tough beat ….”

Stewart said he likely will freshen Tom’s Ready and point him to the Grade 1 King’s Bishop at Saratoga in August.