Better Than Ready

published: 01 Jul 2018 in Stallion profiles

CLAIBORNE Farm’s “Bull” Hancock maintained speed was the most important factor when selecting a stallion and one of his best buys, Nasrullah, a five-time Champion Sire in the US, looms large in the pedigree of Better Than Ready. It might help explain why the Lyndhurst Stud stallion was such a flying machine and why a host of excited owners can’t wait for the new season when his first two year-olds hit the track.

RECORD breaking sprinter Better Than Ready has big hoof prints to fill at Lyndhurst Stud, but he has the race record and pedigree to make that happen. The Kruger family’s famed Queensland nursery has had some pretty good sires in its long history including Smokey Eyes (IRE) and Sequalo, but judging by the reception to his first yearlings this year there are plenty of good judges who think Better Than Ready can emulate them.

  He won eight races in a 16-start career, was Gr.1 placed and broke Northern Meteor’s 1200m Randwick course record, running 1:08.19 when he won the Listed Sir Brian Crowley Handicap under 57kg on October 20, 2012 as a three year-old. He’s by international stud success More Than Ready (USA) and from Sally’s World, a multiple winner to 1200m by the sprint champion Agnes World, a son of Danzig.

  Better Than Ready started the year with three of his first crop yearlings selling in Book One of the Gold Coast Magic Millions Sale in January and they averaged $47,333, with the top lot, a colt from Von Crum offered by expert pin hookers Ampulla Lodge, making $80,000 to the bid of Southern Racing/Greg Eurell. There were four more of his youngsters in Book Two and they averaged $43,000 (top $60,000) and two in Book Three (averaged $14,250).

  There were 30 by Better Than Ready sold at the Gold Coast March Yearling Sale and they averaged $30,983, with a top of $70,000 and went to pretty good judges including Waller Racing/Mulcaster Bloodstock, Brian and Daniel Guy, Gollan Racing, Strike Thoroughbreds (Hong Kong) and Expert Bloodstock NZ (purchasing the $70,000 colt from Brilliant Thunder). A further three yearlings were sold at the recent MM National Sale, with a top of $42,500 (average $30,833).

  A 1000m city winner himself at two and Listed fourth in just two starts, it won’t be surprising at all if the Better Than Ready youngsters are up and running pretty quickly in the new season, especially as More Than Ready is such an exceptional sire of juveniles, including Golden Slipper-Gr.1 winners Sebring and Phelan Ready, and his dam also won at two and is from a female line where pretty fast juveniles are the norm. 

  Better Than Ready, a $140,000 buy at the 2011 Inglis Easter Yearling Sale, made an auspicious start to his racing career when winning on debut over 1000m in Brisbane in April 2012 for trainer Kelly Schweida and he was then fourth in a Listed event before going for a break. Back in action in early September the now three year-old won first up over 1100m in Brisbane (1:03.76) beating Reflectance, although that horse turned the tables next time out over 1200m when Better Than Ready was a close third. Back to 1100m and carrying 59kg he won again in Brisbane on October 20 and then ventured to Randwick for the Listed Brian Crowley Stakes (1200m), setting a track record in beating Jolie Bai and Brave Soul and carrying 57kg.

  Off the scene until February 9, he was he was a first-up second over 1000m in Brisbane and then won the BRC Falvelon Handicap-LR by three lengths, running 1:10.10 for the 1200m on a dead track. Taken to Melbourne for the VRC Newmarket-Gr.1 on March 9, he was far from disgraced when fifth of 13, beaten 4.75 lengths, behind Shamexpress. He won again in Brisbane at his next start (April 20) landing the Listed BRC Mick Dittman Plate (1000m) and running 58.16 on a slow track before facing a heavy track in the BRC BTC Cup-Gr.1 (1200m) and running third behind Your Song and Rain Affair. He was then fifth of 15 (3.75 lengths) in the Doomben 10,000-Gr.1 (1350m) behind Epaulette before running last over the 1400m in the Stradbroke-Gr.1 on June 8.

  Given a break until November 9, Better Than Ready won the BRC Club Super Handicap (1000m). Under the steadier of 60.5kg the talented colt ran a super fast 56.88 on a good (3) track to beat Rocky King by 1.75 lengths. The time was exceptional for the Eagle Farm 1000m into a headwind and clockers reported the winner travelled the final 600m in 33 seconds. Better Than Ready was having his first start since he finished last in the Stradbroke but in between times he had been badly injured in a track work gallop.

  Schweida had been planning to take Better Than Ready to Melbourne for the spring carnival but in early October the four year-old stallion shied during a workout at Doomben and ploughed through a fence. He suffered a chest wound, which required eight stitches and also needed treatment to a testicle, which had been driven into his body. “He really was badly hurt and we were lucky to still have him with us,” Schweida said. “Yes, it was a relief to see him do that today and to know he is back at his best,” he said after the race.

  Better Than Ready set a blazing time again next time out in winning the Listed BRC Keith Noud Handicap (1200m) in 1:08.96, again carrying 60.5kg on November 23. “We will give him a break and come back for the Gr.1 races such as the Oakleigh Plate and VRC Newmarket in the autumn. He deserves a chance in those,” Schweida said. He had his final start in the MRC Rubiton Stakes-Gr.2 (1100m) on February 8, 2014, running fourth to Lankan Rupee, Iconic and First Command under regular jockey Ric McMahon.

  A tendon injury prompted Better Than Ready’s retirement in early 2015, with Richard Foster of Yarramalong Park negotiating a deal to stand the stallion in Queensland. Schweida said although he was sad to see Better Than Ready leave he was pleased he would stay in Queensland and tipped him to become a valuable acquisition for the local industry.

  Lyndhurst Stud’s Jeff Kruger said Better Than Ready’s arrival in time for the 2015 breeding season could not have come at a better time, given the farm lost long serving stalwart Sequalo in 2014. “We were actually looking at another horse, but when I found out Better Than Ready was likely to stand in Queensland, there was no way I wanted to be competing against him,” Kruger said.

  “Fortunately we were able to secure him for Lyndhurst Stud. He’s a perfect replacement for Sequalo because he’s also free of Danehill. He’s a fast, colonial bred horse with a proven pedigree. He’s an ideal horse for us.”

  Breeders agreed with that assessment too and the very fertile horse covered 138 mares in his first season at $9900. He had a book of 134 in 2016 and then 139 in 2017 and his fee remains unchanged in 2018 when he’s sure to be just as popular again, given the early comments from the breakers who described his youngsters as “fast learners” with “tremendous balance” and giving their riders an “exciting feel”.

  His sire More Than Ready (USA) (Southern Halo-Woodman’s Girl by Woodman (USA)) won five of his seven starts by big margins at two, starting with his maiden at 4.5f before running a track record in the Tremont Stakes (5.5f in 1:02.56) at Belmont and progressing to wins at Gr.2 level. Given a Kentucky Derby prep at three where he won the Hutcheson Stakes (7f in 1:21.76) first up, he was runner-up in the Blue Grass-Gr.1 (9f) before a fourth in the Derby (10f). Switched back to sprinting he proved a revelation, with his major win coming in the King’s Bishop Stakes-Gr.1 at Saratoga (7f in 1:22.49) and he was also runner-up in the Vosburgh-Gr.1 (7f), retiring with seven wins, four seconds, a third and three Gr.1 fourths in 17 starts for earnings topping $US1m.

  More Than Ready started his stud career in the US and Australia in 2001 and has been a regular visitor to Vinery, Scone and will be covering in 2018 at $66,000. An extraordinary sire by any measure, his 1677 winners represent 73.5% of his starters, while his 185 stakes winners represent a high 8.1% of starters. More Than Ready has progeny earnings of $198m, led locally by a queen of the turf in More Joyous (Sunday Silence, Danehill) with 21 wins (8 Gr.1) and $5.72m, along with Sebring (Flying Spur), winner of the Golden Slipper-Gr.1 and AJC Sires-Gr.1 and now a successful sire at Widden, Samaready (Secret Savings), winner of the Blue Diamond-Gr.1 and Moir Stakes-Gr.1, Prized Icon (Danehill) winner of the VRC Derby-Gr.1 and Champagne Stakes-Gr.1 and Perfectly Ready (Danehill), winner of the Goodwood-Gr.1, sire. 

  His northern runners include Breeders’ Cup Sprint-Gr.1 and Santa Anita Sprint Championship-Gr.1 winner Roy H (Elusive Quality), dual US Gr.1 winner and now sire Verrazano (Giant’s Causeway), dual Gr.1 winner Room Service (Old Trieste), Nearctic Stakes-Gr.1 winner Regally Ready (King of Kings) and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf-Gr.1 winner Rushing Fall (Forestry). His 21 Gr.1 winners include runners out of daughters of Bluebird, Catbird, Danehill (several), Lure, Conquistarose, Blevic, Canny Lad, Honor and Glory and Forty Niner.

  He has a particular affinity with the Danehill line and this could be used to advantage with Better Than Ready who is Danehill-free but does have a line of Danzig through Agnes World (Danzig-Mysteries by Seattle Slew), whose eight wins included the Prix de l’Abbaye-Gr.1. The presence of Seattle Slew is also interesting in this pedigree as he traces to Myrtlewood and his dam has the sisters Striking and Busher (War Admiral-Baby League by Bubbling Over) 3x3. They are granddaughters of La Troienne (More Than Ready’s sixth dam) and she also appears in the pedigree of Woodman, dam sire of More Than Ready. Woodman is a son of Mr. Prospector (fourth dam Myrtlewood), while his dam Playmate (fifth dam La Troienne) carries the three-quarter sisters Busanda (War Admiral-Businesslike by Blue Larkspur-La Trioenne by Teddy) and La Troienne’s granddaughter Striking 2x3.

  Seattle Slew’s sire Bold Reasoning is bred on a Bold Ruler (Nasrullah)-Hail to Reason cross, while Southern Halo is a grandson of Hail to Reason and his third dam is by Bold Ruler. Woodman’s Girls brings in three further lines of Nasrullah 5m,5fx4m , while Better Than Ready’s second dam Sally Magic is also very strong on Nasrullah and also has a line of his sister Rivaz (Nearco-Mumtaz Begum by Blenheim) via her inbred daughter Palariva (Palestine), second dam of Kalamoun. Mysteries, dam of Agnes World, is out of a mare by Lyphard (Northern Dancer), with her next three dams being by Sea-Bird, Grey Sovereign (grandsire of Kalamoun) and My Babu.

  More Than Readys’ Gr.1 placed sire Southern Halo (Halo-Northern Sea by Northern Dancer), whose second dam is by Sea-Brid and third dam by Bold Ruler, was a multiple champion sire in Argentina and also stood for Coolmore in Kentucky, while grandsire Halo (Hail to Reason-Cosmah by Cosmic Bomb), a Gr.1 winner and twice Champion Sire in the US where his runners included Kentucky Derby-Gr.1 hero and outstanding sire Sunday Silence, is out of a half-sister to Natalma, dam of Northern Dancer (and third dam of Danehill). Better Than Ready carries Northern Dancer 4fx4m. Readers will have noted that More Joyous is out of a Sunday Silence mare and carries Halo 3mx3m, so it could be prudent to find mares from the Sunday Silence line as mates for Better Than Ready, especially if they also carry a line of Danehill (as does More Joyous).

  Better Than Ready’s dam Sally’s World won five races up to 1200m, including one at two, and is a daughter of the Prix de l’Abbaye-Gr.1 and July Cup-Gr.1 winner Agnes World (USA) who travelled to Europe from Japan where he set the country’s 1200m record of 1:06.50, to capture these major sprints. He is a half-brother to another Gr.1-winning sprinter Hishi Ikebono (by More Than Ready’s dam sire Woodman). Agnes World left Caulfield Guineas-Gr.1 winner Wonderful World (Success Express) and Listed winners Mister Celestial (Mukaddamah) and Global Warming (Flying Spur) in three Australian shuttle seasons (2001-03). Sally’s World has had four foals to race and they are all winners including Better Than Ready’s sister Sally’s Realm, a city winner in WA.

  Next dam, the Magic Millions 2YO Classic-RL runner-up Sally Magic, a winner at 1000m-1100m, is by the Lightning Stakes-Gr.1 winner Keltrice (Kenmare (FR)-Vain Display by Vain). Kenmare (Kalamoun) was a Gr.1 winner and champion sire in France before his import as an older stallion and he is quite an influential speed influence in pedigrees so typical of the Grey Sovereign branch of Nasrullah’s male line. Vain Display won the Sweet Embrace-Gr.2 at two and is a daughter of champions Vain and Toltrice. Sally Magic’s five winners include Gr.3-winning sprinter Publishing (Testa Rossa) and speedy Listed winner and Group placed Miss Mooney Mooney (Redoute’s Choice).

  Better Than Ready’s third dam Sleep Time Girl continues this speed theme at she won the SAJC Dequetteville Stakes-LR at two and she is by another champion in Century (My Babu/Nasrullah cross). She left seven winners including stakes placed juvenile Illustrious (Zeditave), dam of Gr.2 winner Illustrious Lad (I Am Invincible) and her dam Tequila Sunrise (Brave Lad (GB)-Sleepyhead by Daybreak (IRE)), whose pedigree is strong on nasrullah and speed influence Gold Bridge, is a three-quarter sister to Blue Diamond Stakes-Gr.1 winner and sire Rancher. This is family 18 (Manto (GB)) and Better Than Ready’s sixth dam is the VRC Oaks winner Mintaway (Orgoglio (GB)), whose sire, a son of Nasrullah, is also dam sire of Vain.

  A horse with deep line breeding, Better Than Ready is sure to suit a wide variety of mares. It would not surprise if he nicks with daughters of Lonhro (and the Zabeel line generally), mares featuring Woodman’s male line (such a Timber Country) and of course mares from the Danehill line. Exceed and Excel daughters look particularly appealing as that Danehill son is out of a mare by Seattle Slew’s half-brother Lomond (Northern Dancer).