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Tom's Tribute puts it all together in Eddie Read

Tom's Tribute turned in his most professional race yet in the Eddie Read (Cecilia Gustavsson/ )

Braly Family Trust's Tom's Tribute beat even-money favorite Summer Front to the punch in Sunday's Grade 1, $300,250 Eddie Read at Del Mar, taking first aim on pacesetter Horizontalyspeakin and smoothly scoring his first top-level win. Under Hall of Famer Mike Smith, the Jim Cassidy trainee completed 1 1/8 miles on the firm course in 1:46 to stamp his arrival among the turf's elite rank.

Tom's Tribute and Summer Front were both coming off placed efforts behind the free-wheeling Obviously in the June 14 Shoemaker Mile at Santa Anita. Summer Front took runner-up honors, while Tom's Tribute was a belatedly closing, dead-heat third. The tactical situation unfolded differently in the Eddie Read, and Tom's Tribute, the 2-1 second choice, readily reversed the form.

The race's lone speed, Horizontalyspeakin, played his hand as expected and dashed to the front through splits of :23 4/5, :46 4/5 and 1:10 1/5. Tom's Tribute effortlessly secured the nearest stalking position in second, and Summer Front settled in third. On the far turn, Tom's Tribute was traveling conspicuously better than the favorite as both advanced on Horizontalyspeakin.

Tom's Tribute rolled past the longtime leader in the stretch, but Summer Front was unwinding in earnest by this point, and briefly hinted that he might find still more. Yet Tom's Tribute hadn't reached the end of his tether either. Striding on emphatically in his first attempt at this trip, the Lion Heart colt crossed the wire a handy 1 1/4-length winner and returned $6.60 to win.

"It was a beautiful ride -- I think I'll vote for Mike Smith for the Hall of Fame next year," Cassidy quipped. "You've got to get this horse to relax, that's the key, and today Mike got him to relax and (Tom's Tribute) was the most professional of any race he's run. We had originally planned on the Del Mar Mile (August 24) and not this race, but then I changed my mind."

"He really relaxed today," Smith noted. "That's the key with this horse. It was nice having that pace up front. We sat in right behind him (Horizontalyspeakin) and were real comfortable. Because he was so relaxed, when it came time he had lots. He won like he wanted to. I have to give all credit to Jim. He pointed this horse for this race and he was ready."

Summer Front continued his status as a Grade 1 bridesmaid. Class climber Spring Up closed for third, besting Horizontalyspeakin, his stablemate from the John Sadler barn. Unbridled Command and Cogito rounded out the order of finish.

Named in honor of the late Tom Braly, who passed away in 2010, and campaigned by his widow, Marilyn, Tom's Tribute sports a mark of 12-5-3-1, $442,880. The chestnut did not make his racecourse debut until last summer and has been on a learning curve ever since. He soon revealed his ability by breaking his maiden second time out over Hollywood's Cushion Track. After placing in two entry-level allowances on the Del Mar turf, he roared from well back to clear that condition at Santa Anita, and booked his passage to stakes company.

Tom's Tribute shortened up to about 6 1/2 furlongs on Santa Anita's downhill turf for the October 20 Uniformity, where he rallied impressively to capture his stakes debut. Up to the Grade 2 level for the December 26 Sir Beaufort over a mile, he faded late after arguing the pace and wound up sixth. Tom's Tribute next got off to a slightly tardy start in the February 1 Arcadia at the same course and distance, but finished well for second to Winning Prize. Making his first Grade 1 foray in the March 8 Frank E. Kilroe Mile, the still-learning four-year-old was prominent early, only to tire to seventh.

But Tom's Tribute began to turn the corner in the April 6 Thunder Road. He relaxed well off the pace, stormed 2 1/4 lengths clear, and equaled Wise Dan's course mark of 1:31.78 for the mile on the Santa Anita turf. Trying another Grade 1 tilt in the Shoemaker, he broke a bit slowly and steadied early, but flew late to dead heat with Silentio for third. Tom's Tribute put it all together in the Eddie Read.

"I don't know what's next," Cassidy said, "but we'll be thinking about the Breeders' Cup."

Bred by Laura M. McKinney and Ouisha McKinney in Kentucky, Tom's Tribute was a $60,000 Keeneland September yearling. Marilyn Braly purchased him as a two-year-old in training at OBS March for $310,000. He was produced by the stakes-placed El Prado mare Halloween Fun, and his fourth dam is Grade 1 victress Chain Bracelet, whose descendants include multiple Grade 2 winner D' Funnybone. This is the family of Grade 1 queen Zoftig, dam of Grade 1 winners Zaftig and Zo Impressive, and further back, one finds champions Swale and Forty Niner.

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