Bax Has A Way With Stubborn Belles

Published: February 28, 2021 07:25 pm EST

Trainer John Bax has handled his share of strong-willed horses. And though three-year-old Kadabra filly Up And Ready has proven to be a bit of a bully, Bax still likes her.

“I don’t know how this type finds its way to me,” Bax said to The Hamilton Spectator. “I like to work with better-mannered horses but here they are. On the racetrack doing her work, she is no problem at all. But in the barn, putting on her harness or turning her out in the paddock, you have to always be aware of her. I sometimes think she looks at me and smiles before letting fly with the boots. She has a mean streak in her for sure.”

In her first start, the precocious filly -- purchased for $300,000 as a yearling by the team of Al Libfeld, Marvin Katz and Lynn Katz, and Sam Goldband -- showed her greenness with a sixth-place finish at Woodbine Mohawk Park following a break in stride. Though she quickly showed talent in her next start when launching a 10-length gambit in the final half to finish third in an Ontario Sires Stakes Gold division at Georgian Downs.

“She does have a very good gait — so fluid,” Bax said. “There is nothing choppy about the way she goes and she does not hit the ground hard. Despite her attitude there is a lot to like about her.”

Up And Ready scored her first, but only, win of her nine-race season just under three weeks later in a Gold division at Mohawk Park, and from there continued to cash cheques in Gold prelims. Her efforts earned her a spot in the Super Final, and she finished strongly but missed victory by just a nose to Dashing Muscle. Through her freshman season, which included fifth-place finishes in the elimination and final of the Peaceful Way, Up And Ready banked $190,752.

“I have to admit I was disappointed in a couple of her starts but when a two-year-old filly wins $190,000, it doesn’t seem quite right to be unsatisfied,” Bax said. “She was not the best in the Ontario Sires Stakes program. She was good, but not great. She just missed winning the Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final and finished up healthy so no one should complain.”

The Super Final marked the last time Up And Ready stepped under the lights. With the coronavirus pandemic continuing to limit travel across borders, Bax opted not to take his tack to Florida and has instead been wintering in the Great White North. Thus, he’s been preparing Up And Ready at his home base at Glengate Farms and has seen the filly development in nearly every department but her temperament.

“She has gotten taller and filled out in her withers (ridge between her shoulder blades),” Bax said. “She has not gotten thicker, but has gotten more racy looking. For sure, there is no change in her attitude.

“We joke about these female horses that have mean streaks, but history has shown so many of them who are very good race horses,” Bax also said, noting former trainee Stubborn Belle also had an aggressive temperament but still earned $700,000. “Maybe that is the grit they need to outperform the rest. But I’m not sure I would want a barn full of them. It would make for some long days.”

Presuming racing continues in the province of Ontario as the world handles the pandemic, Up And Ready is being pointed for a sophomore stakes debut in the SBOA Stakes at Mohawk on May 15.