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Tom's Tribute Storms Home in Thunder Road

Tom's Tribute wins 2014 Thunder Road.
Photo: Benoit Photo
Next to last in a field of eight older horses going to the far turn under Mike Smith, Tom’s Tribute came roaring down the stretch to win Sunday’s $75,000 Thunder Road Stakes at Santa Anita by 2 ¼ lengths while equaling two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan’s course record for a mile on turf in 1:31.78.

With 6-5 favorite Peace and Justice cutting out fast splits of 22.02, 44.09, 1:07.77 and 1:19.98, Smith wheeled his mount wide turning for home and won geared down late.

“We broke a little slow and that turned out to be a blessing,” said Smith of the Jim Cassidy trainee.  “I you can get this horse to shut off a little early, he’s got a great kick.  It doesn’t happen often enough, but when I can get him to relax, he runs like this.

“I knew they were running up front, they’re really fast horses up there.  That really played into our hands today.”

A close seventh, beaten 3 ½ lengths in the Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile March 8, Tom’s Tribute was the second choice at 3-1 and paid $8.00, $3.60 and $3.20.

“Mike said he geared him down the last sixteenth,” said Cassidy, who registered his second win of the day.  “This is a really nice horse.  He’s relaxing better now and that’s the key.”

Owned by the Braly Family Trust, Tom’s Tribute, a 4-year-old colt by Lion Heart, picked up $47,400 for the win, his fourth from 10 overall starts.  His earnings now stand at $226,880.

The third choice at 9-2, Joelito, ridden by Corey Nakatani, was out-footed by the winner late but got up to finish second by a nose over Bright Thought.  Joelito paid $4.80 and $4.00.

Bright Thought, a winner of the Grade II, 1 ½ miles turf San Luis Rey Stakes on March 16, 2013, sat a close second early, made the lead leaving the quarter, but couldn’t hold off the top two.  Ridden by Rafael Bejarano and dispatched at 7-1, Bright Thought finished 1 ¼ lengths in front of longshot County Lineman and paid $4.60 to show. 

Ridden by Brice Blanc, Peace and Justice weakened to finish fifth, a head behind County Lineman.

“He felt good, but he’s very high-strung,” said Blanc.  “We just have to teach him to relax and be a little more mature.  He’s very immature mentally.  He’s loaded with talent.  He’s just immature.”



 

 

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