At the conclusion of the 2011 Wood Memorial, track announcer Tom Durkin announced, “The most shocking defeat in the Wood Memorial since Secretariat himself!” Shocking indeed. Even the most casual of fans are familiar with Uncle Mo and his exploits, but while Uncle Mo tries to regroup for an even larger test in next month’s Kentucky Derby, let’s take a closer look at his conqueror, Toby’s Corner.
Toby’s Corner was a late-developing two year old. Third in his debut going six furlongs at Delaware in October, the Chestnut colt came back a month later in a mile race to destroy maidens at Laurel by over ten lengths. In January, Toby’s Corner faced winners in an allowance/optional claimer at the same distance and track where he triumphed as a maiden. In February, Toby’s Corner stepped into Stakes competition stealing the Whirlaway by two lengths over eventual Bay Shore Stakes winner JJ’s Lucky Train. Despite having to close over Aqueduct’s speed favoring track, the Graham Motion trainee earned his first triple digit BRIS speed figure in the Whirlaway. Riding a three race win streak into last month’s Gotham Stakes (G-3), Toby’s Corner was wide the whole way and had to settle for third, 4 ½ lengths behind the winner Stay Thirsty. In the Wood Memorial, Toby’s Corner sat in his customary spot near the back of the back, but this time was able to save ground on the rail. He started his run at the ¼ pole and dashed between a faltering Uncle Mo and a game Arthur’s Tale to win the race by a neck in 1:49.93, getting the last 1/8 mile in 12.67.
With the defection of Comma To The Top, Toby’s Corner’s combined earnings of $625,000 have vaulted him to a solid third place on the Kentucky Derby Graded Earnings List. It’s time we took a closer look at this high ranking contender.
TOBY'S CORNER(Bellamy Road – Brandon’s Ride, by Mister Frisky) is a homebred colt owned by Diane Cotter, who also campaigned the second-crop sire Bellamy Road and Brandon’s Ride. Bellamy Road destroyed an average field in the 2005 Wood Memorial by over 17 lengths, equaling the track record set by Riva Ridge 32 years previously. Sent off as the favorite in the Kentucky Derby, Bellamy Road was rank while running close to the fastest pace in history. Although he finished seventh, in the historic race, his was the best finish of the Derby pace setters. Bellamy Road was second in the Travers Stakes, his only other attempt to get the classic distance of ten furlongs. He retired to the breeding shed after the Travers.
At stud, Bellamy Road (Concerto – Hurry Home Hillary, by Deputed Testamony) is proving to be a solid sire. He was represented on the same day by two Derby contestants when his son Zoebear placed in the Illinois Derby the same day as Toby’s Corner scored in the Wood Memorial. His first graded stakes winner Position Limit, was impressive in the Adirondack Stakes (G-2) and Bellamy Road has produced a few other listed stakes winners. So far, Bellamy Road’s offspring are successful from 4 ½ furlongs to 1 1/8 miles. Bellamy Road’s sire Concerto has produced multiple stakes winners up to 1 1/8 miles, but only one at 1 ¼ miles, a Puerto Rican Group 1 turf who ironically is Bellamy Road’s full brother Old Midleton. Although it’s too soon to tell whether Bellamy Road’s offspring will handle 1 ¼ miles, his pedigree indicates most of his progeny will be suspect at the Classic distances unless there are strong stamina attributes on the individual’s distaff side.
Toby’s Corner’s damsire Mister Frisky started his career in Puerto Rico, setting new track records at five, six and seven furlongs. His exploits earned him Two Year Old Champion honors in that country. The undefeated Mr. Frisky traveled to California in his three year old year, where he won the San Rafael Stakes and Santa Anita Derby. Mister Frisky entered the Kentucky Derby as the favorite with a sixteen race win streak under his girth. but could do no better than eighth against Unbridled in the 1990 Kentucky Derby. The gallant colt rebounded somewhat to place third in the Preakness and it was discovered that he had a large throat tumor a few weeks after the race.
After the discovery and removal of a life threatening throat tumor, Mister Frisky failed to win in three starts and subsequently was retired. Due to a modest pedigree, Mister Frisky wasn’t successful in the US, getting only three stakes winners. The best of which was multiple graded stakes winner Mr. Frisky, who won the Grade 1 Oaklawn Handicap and the 1 ¼ mile Suburban. Mister Frisky currently stands in Australia. As a broodmare sire, Mister Frisky’s daughters have only produced a handful of stakes horses. None of which have been successful past 1 1/8 miles.
Reviewing Toby’s Corner’s distaff family, his dam Brandon's Ride was based in Florida and won once in six attempts. She fared better as a broodamare, getting the listed stakes winner Bushmills Best, who is a ¾ brother to Toby’s Corner. All four of Brandons Ride’s foals are winners and three have faced the starter 20 or more times. Toby’s Corner descends from an unassuming distaff family. He is the first US graded stakes winner in his family in four generations, and the first stakes winner in three. One needs to venture five and more generations back to discover graded stakes winners. Another branch of Toby’s Corner’s distaff line has been more successful, producing the Kentucky Derby winners Omaha, Johnstown and Decidedly.
Toby’s Corner’s second damsire Restivo was an indifferent broodmare sire, getting only a few stakes winners. His daughter’s offspring were mostly sprinter/milers, but he did get one winner at 13 furlongs.
It is difficult to ascertain Toby’s Corner’s conformation from the photos available. He does have a smooth reaching gait and can produce a sustained burst of speed which will come in handy in the Kentucky Derby. Many times, a good horse’s physical traits can overcome a limited pedigree. Toby’s Corner’s rather indifferent lineage appears borderline for the Classic distances. However his foundation, mid-pack running style and experience in larger fields will stand him in good stead.