MOTHER GOOSE STAKES | PURSE: $250,000 | GRADE: 1 | 3-YEAR-OLDS | 1 1/16 MILES
ELMONT, N.Y. -- Buster's Ready dominated the Grade 1, $250,000 Mother Goose for 3-year-old fillies, beating Joyful Victory, the 4-5 favorite, by 4 1/4 lengths on Saturday at Belmont Park.
The race got off to a strange start as the extremely rank Alseera broke on top. Her jockey, Alan Garcia, struggled for control before the filly bolted to the outside fence down the backstretch.
That unexpected event left Salty Strike and Buster's Ready, with John Velazquez aboard, dueling for the lead.
"I didn't think I was going to be on the lead, that's for sure," Velazquez said. "We were planning that I was going to be second or third."
It turned out for the best, as Buster's Ready delivered the race of her career. The two-horse battle turned into a three-way duel rounding the turn as R Gypsy Gold, the winner's stablemate in the Todd Pletcher barn, joined the fray.
The strong horse was clearly Buster's Ready. She took charge in the lane and drew clear in the final furlong. Joyful Victory, the 4-5 favorite, rallied for second. R Gypsy Gold held third, giving Pletcher a 1-3 finish.
"She's been steadily improving all winter," Pletcher said of Buster's Ready. "She's a filly we always felt wanted more distance."
Pletcher said Buster's Ready turned the corner with a second-place finish in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico.
"She's kind of finding her rhythm now," he said. "She's putting it all together."
This was the fourth win in nine starts for the filly, who got her maiden win in a $50,000 claimer at Aqueduct last November.
Buster's Ready paid $9.40 to win. The time was 1:42.44 for the 1 1/16 miles on the fast track.
Pletcher said her next likely start will be the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks on July 23 at Saratoga.
Salty Strike was fourth, followed by My Assets. Alseera was pulled up and ponied off the track.