REGALLY READY MAKES EASY LEAD & COASTS GATE TO WIRE IN THURSDAY’S $65,000 MERCURY PURSE ALLOWANCE, SMITH GUIDES ASMUSSEN RUNNER TO 1 ¼ LENGTH WIN COVERING MILE ON GRASS IN 1:33 FLAT

ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 2, 2014)—With the temporary rail set at 15 feet and the front-end there for the taking, Mike Smith seized control of Thursday’s $65,000 Mercury Purse allowance, guiding the Steve Asmussen-trained Regally Ready to a 1 ¼ length win at 3-1 while covering one mile on turf in 1:33 flat.

“It was pretty easy today,” said Smith, who hadn’t ridden the 7-year-old More Than Ready gelding since winning the Grade III San Simeon Handicap on April 16, 2011. “I would have never dreamed two years ago that I would be riding this horse (who had raced exclusively at sprint distances on turf up until his last two starts) going long. And, thinking that he might like it better than sprinting.

“He was on the lead today, but he certainly didn’t have to be. He was really impressive and being outside never hurts.”

Drawn in post four in a field of six, Smith sat just outside the speedy No Silent out of the gate and easily gained the advantage into the first turn. Owned by Vinery Stables, LLC, Regally Ready paid $8.00, $3.80 and $2.80. With the winner’s share of $39,000, Regally Ready now has earnings of $1,324,808 and an overall mark of 29-11-2-5.

In his most recent start at Churchill Downs Nov. 9, Regally Ready was fourth, beaten 3 ¾ lengths in a classified allowance going a mile on turf listed as “good.”

“Mike did a great job, he put him where he wanted and needed to be,” said Asmussen assistant Scott Blasi. “It’s nice to have him back winning again.”

Bio Pro, the 2-1 favorite with Mario Gutierrez, sat second to the winner down the backside and could never mount a serious threat. He paid $3.20 and $2.20.

It was another 2 ¾ lengths back to the 5-2 second choice Boat Trip and Joe Talamo, who proved third-best and paid $2.20 to show.

Fractions of the race were 23.61, 46.77, 1:09.83 and 1:21.33.

First post time on an eight-race card Friday is at 1 p.m.