by Najja Thompson
Making his first start since a fourth-place finish in the Grade 3 Commonwealth at Keeneland, Sagamore Farm's graded stakes winner Recruiting Ready will headline a field of six in the sixth running of the $150,000 Runhappy for 4-year-olds and up going six furlongs on Saturday at Belmont Park.
One of five stakes races comprising the Man o' War Racing Festival, highlighted by the Grade 1, $700,000 Man o' War, the Runhappy will be joined by the Grade 3, $300,000 Peter Pan, the Grade 3, $200,000 Vagrancy, and the Grade 3, $200,000 Beaugay. Live coverage festival will begin at 4:00 p.m. on FS2 and extend to 7:30 p.m. on MSG+.
A 5-year-old sired by graded stakes winner Algorithms, Recruiting Ready showed promise as a juvenile, impressively winning his debut by 10 ¼ lengths before earning graded stakes placings in the Grade 3 Bashford Manor at Churchill Downs and the Grade 2 Saratoga Special.
Following a 3-year-old campaign in which he won listed stakes at Oaklawn Park in the 2017 Bachelor and at Pimlico Race Course in the Chick Lang, as well as a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens at Belmont Park, Recruiting Ready finished fifth in the Grade 2 True North at Belmont for former trainer Horacio DePaz before being transferred to the care of conditioner Stanley Hough.
In December, Recruiting Ready won the Gravesend at Aqueduct Racetrack for his new barn, and then kicked off the year with a game second-place finish in the Gulfstream Turf Sprint that was moved off the turf. The classy bay followed up with a prominent score in the Grade 3 Gulfstream Park Sprint on March 2.
"He's been doing great since the Commonwealth," said Hough. "He came into some trouble in that race and had to check early, but we're confident with how he's been doing heading into this race. As he's gotten older, he's really matured and started to put things together. Earlier in his career, he had some problems and since then he's been a very good horse."
Recruiting Ready will leave from post 5 with Luis Saez aboard.
Following an encouraging effort where he finished second by a half-length to multiple graded stakes winner World of Trouble last out in the Grade 1 Carter Handicap, graded stakes-winner Skyler's Scramjet enters for conditioner Michelle Nevin and owners SJB Stable and Marcello Micozzi.
The 5-year-old Creative Cause gelding kicked off his 2019 campaign with a second-place finish in the Grade 3 Tobaggan on January 19 and returned to finish fourth in the Grade 3 Tom Fool Handicap in March.
With four wins from eight starts at the distance with two second-place finishes and one win from four starts with a second-place finish at Belmont, Nevin said she is fairly confident coming into the race.
"He's doing good," said Nevin. "I'll have to take a look at the entire field to see where he would most likely be placed, but he's been training well in the mornings so we're looking forward to running."
With Rajiv Maragh named to ride, Skyler's Scramjet will leave from post 2.
Trainer Jason Servis entered Firenze Fire for Mr. Amore Stables.
The 4-year-old multiple graded stakes winner and son of Poseidon's Warrior will be making his second start of the year after running third in the Zaxby's Sprint on March 31 at Tampa Bay Downs. Last year, as a 3-year-old, he picked up graded stakes victories in the Grade 3 Dwyer at Belmont and Grade 3 Gallant Bob at Parx.
With a perfect 2-for-2 record at Belmont, Firenze Fire will leave from post 3 with Irad Ortiz, Jr. in the irons.
Rounding out the field is Bon Raison for Empire State Thoroughbreds and trainer Carlos Martin; Killybegs Captain for Curragh Stables and trainer John Terranova; and Ready to Escape for trainer Chris Englehart and owner Silver Ranch Stable.
The Runhappy is slated as Race 9 on Saturday's 11-race card. First post is 1:30 p.m.