In an off-the-turf version of the $200,000
San Gabriel Stakes, it was Blue Tone who
led the entire way on a sloppy Santa Anita track. The eight-year-old gelding by
Birdstone clinched his first graded stakes win in the 1 1/8 miles race.
Normally a Grade 2, the San Gabriel was automatically downgraded to a Grade 3
due to the surface switch.
Away in post 1 with jockey Kent Desormeaux, Blue Tone was able to take the lead and run at his pace,
leading the field through fractions of :23.16 and :47.17 for the first
half-mile. In pursuit was Red Tie Day, Itsinthepost, and Point Piper. Just
outside of Point Piper was the favorite Ring Weekend. Perfectly Majestic and
Quick Casablanca were toward the rear of the pack, with Twentytwentyvision far
back in last.
As the field prepared to turn home with
three-quarters of a mile going in 1:11.56, Blue Tone appeared under pressure. A
Red Tie Day and Itsinthepost became nose and nose with Blue Tone in the final
turn, and Ring Weekend was looming to the outside. In the homestretch though,
there was no threat to Blue Tone and Desormeaux. The pair shook off A Red Tie
Day and Ring Weekend could not sustain his run. Itsinthepost was able to get
within 1 1/4 lengths, but it was Blue Tone who charged to a mile in 1:36.72 and
stopped the clock at 1:49.82.
Off at 6-1, Blue Tone paid $15.20, $9.20, and
$5.00. 8-1 Itsinthepost held for second and returned $9.40 and $5.40.
Twentytwentyvision, who began his race far behind, flew home late to be third
and returned $3.20 at 7-2.
Point Piper, Ring Weekend, Perfectly
Majestic, A Red Tie Day, and Quick Casablanca completed the order of finish. Flamboyant,
Syntax, Conquest Daddyo, and Some in Tieme were scratched.
“It was apparent there wasn’t any pace in
the race,” noted winning trainer Robert Hess, Jr. “The other day when he stumbled (out of the gate when finishing
fourth in the Grade 3 Native Diver Handicap Nov.
27), we couldn’t have beaten the winner, but I thought we could’ve been
second. He’s a big lumbering horse and when he’s able to run like this, he’s a
“He broke horribly today and I didn’t know if he had anything left at the
half-mile pole,” Desormeaux commented. “I absolutely nursed him to the quarter
pole and he showed all the class that he has and held them at bay.
“Not for nothing but he must be a mudder. He won’t step in a puddle on
the road out to the racetrack in the mornings, but I walked him out onto the
track today and he was paddling in it, like a child in the mud. He was like a
little kid. He was enjoying himself.”
Bred by Far View Stables, Hess purchased Blue
Tone for $100,000 at the 2010 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. His first race
was not until his four-year-old year, when he debuted at Santa Anita for owners
Beverly Engelberg, Schoeder Farms, LLC, and Jan Steeper. Blue Tone’s San Gabriel
win improved his career record to 25-7-4-3 and the winner’s share boosted his
earnings to $558,870.
Hess already has plans in mind for Blue
Tone’s next race. “We’ve got some money now, so we’re going to run next at
Gulfstream in the Poseidon on Jan.
28,” he said. “It’s $400,000 and we’re going to take a shot.”
By Christine Oser