A week after his champion mare More Joyous went out for a winter spell, Vinery sire More Than Ready was back in business with an international feature double on the weekend.
More Joyous passed the baton to More Strawberries for owner-breeder John Singleton and trainer Gai Waterhouse in the LR Darley Crown (1300m) at Hawkesbury. Hours later, More Than Ready’s USA bred mare Hungry Island grabbed her second Group 2 in the Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill Downs.
More Strawberries disappointed first-up behind Atlantic Jewel at Randwick’s autumn carnival but she rebounded at Hawkesbury. “I’ve kept her fresh because I think she needs it longer than 1300m,” Waterhouse said. “She will go to the Dark Jewel Classic at Scone before the G1 Tatt’s Tiara in Brisbane.”
More Strawberries (4m More Than Ready – Milva by Strawberry Road) had been third home in Crystal Lily’s G1 Golden Slipper and she stepped up at three for wins in the G2 Furious Stakes and G2 Tea Rose Stakes. She capped off that spring campaign with an unlucky second to Secret Admirer in the G1 Flight Stakes.
A priceless commodity, More Strawberries is a younger half-sister to Arrowfield Stud’s reverse Kentucky shuttler All American (Red Ransom). Their dam Milva is a half-sister to G1 winner Rock Hard Ten (Kris S) who is now a G1 sire at Lane’s End Farm.
Second dam Tersa (Mr. Prospector) was a G1 winner of the 1988 Prix Morny. She was raced by Allen Paulson and the winning jockey that day at Deauville was Gerald Mosse.
Singleton’s pride and joy Strawberry Road ended his racing career with Paulson and trainer Charlie Whittingham winning the 1986 Arcadia Hcp at Santa Anita after a globetrotting career.
Paulson retired Strawberry Road to Brookside Farm in Kentucky for a highly successful stint at stud that included Breeders’ Cup winners Fraise, Escena and Ajina. He died there aged 16 in 1995.
Hungry Island is another beautifully bred daughter of More Than Ready and her owner-breeder Emory Hamilton also comes from blueblood stock.
Hungry Island (4f More Than Ready – Flying Passage by A P Indy) had claimed the G2 Lake Placid Stakes at Saratoga last year and she bounced back to winning form on the Kentucky Derby support card.
Trained by Shug McGaughey, she had been runner-up to Marketing Mix in her last two starts at Churchill Downs and Keeneland but turned the tables on that mare in the G2 Distaff Turf Mile. “She can come off a fast pace or a slow pace,” McGaughey explained. “She’s just a really nice filly and once Johnny (Velazquez) asked her, the race was over.”
Her owner Emory Hamilton is a grand-daughter of industry icon Robert J Kleberg jnr who won Kentucky Derbies with Assault (1946) and Middleground (1950) under his King Ranch banner.
Hamilton bred Queena (Mr Prospector) who was a USA Eclipse Award winning mare in 1991. She later foaled G1 winner Brahms (Danzig) who shuttled to Vinery Australia for three seasons until 2004.
Hamilton’s sister Helen Alexander operates Middlebrook Farm in Kentucky and another sister Dorothy is married to leading trainer Michael Matz.
Hungry Island will now step up to G1 company for the Just a Game Stakes (1600m) at Belmont on June 9 and the Diana Stakes (1800m) at Saratoga on July 28.
G2 More Than Ready winner in Kentucky