September 22, 2020

Tom’s d’Etat just misses track record in sparkling Stephen Foster victory

Tom's d'Etat
Tom's d'Etat wins the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs (Coady Photography)

Tom’s d’Etat took over nearing the conclusion of the far turn and stretched his win streak to four with an impressive 4 1/4-length victory in Saturday’s $500,000 Stephen Foster (G2) at Churchill Downs. Owned by GMB Racing and trained by Al Stall Jr., the 7-year-old horse stamped his ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) in the “Win & You’re In” race and completed 1 1/8 miles in an eye-catching 1:47.30, missing 1999 Foster winner Victory Gallop’s track record by only .02 seconds.

With regular jockey Joel Rosario out of town for another commitment, Miguel Mena took over riding duties on the 13-10 favorite and Tom’s d’Etat was forwardly-placed from the break, tracking about a length back in second as pacesetter Pirate’s Punch established fractions in :23.89 and :48.13.

Tom’s d’Etat stuck a head in front through three-quarters in 1:11.67, and never gave his seven rivals a chance while drawing away dynamically through the stretch.

“I knew he was a lot of fun to ride him in the morning but didn’t realize how much fun he was in the afternoon,” Mena said. “I owe everything to Al for giving me the opportunity to ride such an impressive horse. He was going along so easy and I just asked him for his attention a little bit at the top of the lane and I didn’t even have to really step on the gas.”

Tom’s d’Etat ran 1.69 seconds faster than Midnight Bisou, who posted an 8 1/4-length win in the Fleur de Lis (G2) one race earlier.

“We knew coming into this race he was a fresh horse but ran so well fresh in the past,” said Stall, who also won the Stephen Foster in 2010 with Blame. “This will set him up to be in good shape for the rest of the year. I think he’ll benefit a lot from this race. We’ve sort of been waiting for this horse to get into form with the breaks in his races, but he’s finally got there. That was a very impressive performance today.”

Oaklawn H. (G2) victor By My Standards easily proved second-best while no match for the winner, sustaining his first setback in four starts this year. Off as the 1.90-1 second choice, By My Standards finished 2 3/4 lengths clear of 27-1 outsider Silver Dust in third. Multiplier, Owendale, Fearless, Pirate’s Punch, and Alkhaatam completed the order.

Tom’s d’Etat’s career has been prone to lengthy layoffs since his career debut in May 2016. He earned his first stakes win in the 2018 Tenacious at Fair Grounds, and the bay’s career really took off last fall when posting convincing back-to-back wins in the Fayette (G2) at Keeneland and Clark (G1) at Churchill Downs, his first graded triumphs.

He opened this year with an outstanding win in the Apr. 11 Oaklawn Mile S., running down subsequent Hollywood Gold Cup (G1) scorer Improbable at a less-than-optimal distance, and Tom’s d’Etat has now earned $1,627,272 from a 18-11-2-1 record.

Bred in Kentucky by SF Bloodstock, Tom’s d’Etat is out of the stakes-winning Giant’s Causeway mare Julia Tuttle. This is the same family as Argentinean champion and Pacific Classic (G1) hero Candy Ride.