by Najja Thompson
Making his first start in over six months following a fifth-place finish in the Grade 2 True North at Belmont Park, Sagamore Farm's Recruiting Ready handled the return from a layoff with composure holding off a late charge from Skyler's Scramjet to best a field of eight to win the $100,000 Gravesend on Sunday at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Breaking alertly from post 2 at odds of 8-1 with Eric Cancel aboard, Recruiting Ready quickly darted to the front setting fractions of 22.20 seconds for the opening quarter mile with the half-mile in 45.49.
At the quarter-pole, Recruiting Ready remained in front at the three-path with 3-5 post-time favorite Gold for the King approaching along the rail and a fast closing Skyler's Scramjet to his outside.
Undeterred in the final yards, Recruiting Ready had enough left to hold off the late bid from Skyler's Scramjet to earn the victory by a head at the wire.
Recruiting Ready completed the six-furlong distance in a final time of 1:10.52.
"To be honest, the trip went very nice and easy," said Cancel. "The plan was to let him break and try to get the lead comfortably without doing too much with him, and that's the way it worked out. I let him on the lead, put my hands down, and when he was ready to run, I asked him, and he was still grinding it out."
Dylan Davis was full of praise for the game and determined effort from Skyler's Scramjet.
"He ran a great race coming off a layoff of six or seven months," said Davis. "I know he gave his heart out and I wish I could have got it done, but he was just one jump short. I know he'll improve and win a couple of stakes next year."
Following Skyler's Scramjet in second was Gold for the King, Life in Shambles, Always Sunshine, and Runaway Lute.
Making his first start for trainer Stanley Hough, Recruiting Ready, a 4-year-old son of Algorithms, returned $19.40 for a $2 win wager while boosting his career earnings to $489,645.
The victory gave Recruiting Ready his second win of the year from five starts following an optional-claiming win on May 17 at Belmont.
Following a four-day winter break, live racing returns to Aqueduct on Friday, December 28 with an 8-race card. First post time is 12:50 p.m.
Every day during the month of December, NYRA Bets members who place wagers on Aqueduct will receive a three percent rebate. For more information on the NYRA Bets December three percent bonus, visit NYRABets.com.