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Back to Business for Clement, Tonalist

Though it was right back to business for Christophe Clement this morning, less than 24 hours after capturing his first Triple Crown race, the trainer of Belmont Stakes hero Tonalist did take time to enjoy the moment.

With the winning blanket of white carnations draped over a bench just outside his Barn 21 office at Belmont Park, Clement passed out donuts around the barn and accepted congratulations while he got horses ready for their regular exercise routines.

"I received a lot of texts from all over: the [United] States, France, England, everywhere," he said. "I've got to start to sit down and answer all my texts, which I will. I'm just going to enjoy this for a day or two. It's a nice feeling.

"I think we always forget that this should be fun. It's nice to enjoy it for a few days. For all of us: the horse, the whole team. We're New York people, so it means a lot to us."

Clement said Tonalist walked for 30 minutes and grazed before being given a bath and returning to his stall, where he showed good energy and stuck his head out to greet a steady stream of visitors.

"He's doing good," Clement said. "He didn't surprise me, because I knew he was a good horse going into the race. They didn't give him the race. He had to fight pretty hard in order to do it. He just confirmed that he belongs with some of the best 3-year-olds in the country at the moment."

The Belmont was Clement's second Grade 1 win on dirt as a trainer, having saddled Funny Moon to win the 2009 Coaching Club American Oaks.

Winner of the Grade 2 Peter Pan prior to the Belmont, Tonalist was making only his fifth lifetime start in the Belmont. He broke his maiden and was second to eventual Grade 1 Florida Derby winner Constitution over the winter in Florida before being sidelined with a lung infection.

The illness caused him to miss the Grade 1 TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial, and the lack of qualifying points kept him out of the Kentucky Derby. Clement and owner Robert Evans decided to point for the Peter Pan and Belmont, in which he overcame the far outside No. 11 post to catch Commissioner in the shadow of the wire to win by a head.

"I don't put importance in the number of starts as some people do, maybe because of the way we train," Clement said. "He was a very immature horse to start the year but as the year went on, he improved probably more mentally than physically. With his pedigree and the way he's built, I would expect him to keep improving through the year."

Clement said the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course on August 23 would be among the races he would target for Tonalist, a bay son of Tapit.

"The Travers is very much under consideration, I'm sure," he said. "I will have to speak to [owner Robert] Evans about it. Of course, you like to think about it. I do believe there is more to come. I really do. I think physically and mentally there is more to come. My whole deal is keep it simple; just keep him sound and keep him fit and he will take care of the rest because he is a nice horse."

 

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