LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Ten years after he won the Stephen Foster (Grade II) with Blame, trainer Al Stall, Jr. won it again with Tom’s d’Etat Saturday at a near empty Churchill Downs. Now he hopes to add a Breeders’ Cup Classic triumph as he did in 2010 with Blame.
It was the fourth consecutive stakes victory for the 7-year-old. He did so by breaking clean and settling into second place behind pacesetter Pirate’s Punch, then moving clear in the stretch for a four-and-a-quarter length victory over By My Standards. The winning time of 1:47.30 was just .02 off Victory Gallop’s 1999 track and stakes record.
“We knew coming into this race he was a fresh horse but ran so well fresh in the past,” said Stall. “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 but 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.”
The son of Smart Strike was ridden by Miguel Mena for the first time after regular jockey Joel Rosario opted to ride at Belmont Park Saturday.
“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,” said Mena. “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.”
The win earned Tom’s d’Etat a guaranteed spot in the starting gate for the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic November 7 at Keeneland. Stall said the Whitney at Saratoga later this summer is likely his next race.
Tom’s d’Etat paid $4.60, $2.80 and $2.60 as the 6-5 betting choice. By My Standards, with Corey Lanerie aboard, returned $3.20 and $3 as the 9-5 second choice. Silver Dust, another 2 ¾ lengths back in third under Adam Beschizza, paid $6.40 to show.
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