Analysis: Tom's d'Etat, Midnight Bisou wins hard to compare

Analysis: Tom's d'Etat, Midnight Bisou wins hard to compare
Photo: Coady Photography

Even though most horses decline past their 5-year-old season, Tom’s d’Etat is proving the opposite. The 7-year-old son of Smart Strike is in the best form of his life after capturing the Stephen Foster Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs yesterday. There is even an argument that Tom’s d’Etat has climbed to the top of his division, on near it at least.

First, here is the recap of the trip. Tom’s d’Etat did not face adversity from a pace or traffic standpoint, but that is because of his versatility.   

Instead of running as a midpack horse, Tom’s d’Etat switched back to the presser role, which he last ran as in the Fayette Stakes (G2).

Watch him flank Pirate’s Punch around the first turn.

As Tom’s d’Etat kept Pirate’s Punch close, the longshot Alkhaatam took up the pocket and By My Standards ran along in fourth outside. 

Owendale fell a few lengths off the front pack in seventh. But Owendale was closer than Fearless, who lagged 10 lengths or more behind through the opening quarter in 23.89 and moderate half-mile in 48.13.

For this level of horses, it was a modest pace.

Tom’s d’Etat took advantage of his position and went to the attack on the far turn. He put away Pirate’s Punch and began to open up.

By My Standards wound up his rally on the outside and came within range of Tom’s d’Etat at the top of the stretch. But his run began to stall under a hard drive. Tom’s d’Etat never let up, and he widened his advantage to win by 4 ¼ lengths.

For the winning effort, Tom’s d’Etat earned an impressive 129 TimeformUS Speed Figure after finishing the nine furlongs in 1:47.30.

Miguel Mena rode Tom’s d’Etat and deserves credit for the ride. A couple of handicappers felt concerned about the switch from Joel Rosario to Mena, but he did a great job. With this horse’s versatility, it seems like most jockeys can ride him and not experience any real problems.

By My Standards held second, 2 ¾ lengths ahead of Silver Dust in third. Right now, it looks like By My Standards is a touch below the elite level.

Multiplier gave a mild run for fourth. Owendale, perhaps compromised by the slower pace, could only manage a non-threatening fifth. Fearless moved well late for sixth, almost catching Owendale at the wire.

Who is better than Tom’s d’Etat?

Maximum Security needs to prove he can win without trainer Jason Servis. Eliminate Maximum Security and perhaps Mucho Gusto is on top. Yet, Mucho Gusto does not seem like a dominant horse yet.

Midnight Bisou captured the Fleur de Lis (G2) in sparkling fashion one race earlier, but with a final time over one second slower than the Stephen Foster Stakes. This will be discussed below. Remember, Midnight Bisou had finished a great second in the Saudi Cup.

At a minimum, Tom’s d’Etat is in the discussion of best older dirt router.

Midnight Bisou romps in Fleur de Lis

Facing a different pace scenario, Midnight Bisou did not let supporters down in the Fleur de Lis Stakes (G2) and crushed her opponents.

Before coasting home in the stretch though, Midnight Bisou had to face a talented pacesetter in Serengeti Empress. She also needed to overcome a 119-day layoff since the runner-up finish in the Saudi Cup.

In the past, Serengeti Empress had fired a good race every time she secured the lead, and folded badly otherwise. With that in mind, it is not surprising she went for the lead in this spot at the cost of fast fractions.

With Motion Emotion following, Serengeti Empress led through the opening quarter in 23.18 and ripped through the half-mile in 46.15.

Midnight Bisou settled in third, roughly four lengths behind the pacesetter. Chocolate Kisses traveled in a good spot inside of her.

Serengeti Empress still winged on the lead at the beginning of the far turn, reaching the six-furlong mark in a snappy 1:09.74. But Midnight Bisou began to attack, and Serengeti Empress offered no response.

Under a motionless Mike Smith, Midnight Bisou widened the lead and romped by 8 ¼ lengths. Motion Emotion passed Serengeti Empress in a good effort to pick up second, as Another Broad clunked into the picture to complete the trifecta in third. Serengeti Empress faded to fourth.

With the win, Midnight Bisou stirred discussion of pointing towards the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Even before this race, she had enough credibility to go in that direction as the runner-up in the Saudi Cup. Now, the expectation from fans to face open company is greater after this win.

As a word of caution, Midnight Bisou finished the nine furlongs in 1:48.99, well behind the 1:47.30 Tom’s d’Etat completed the distance in. But as pointed out, the pace scenarios were radically different, as Serengeti Empress under Joe Talamo secured the lead at all costs.

Perhaps Serengeti Empress went fast enough to take the starch out of the field. Even horses not confronting a fast pacesetter will become affected by a fast race, resulting in the entire field slowing down late.

Others will say Midnight Bisou was capable of running faster because Mike Smith did not ask for anything in the stretch.

The point is that calling Tom’s d’Etat a faster horse at this point is unfair because the pace scenarios were radically different. Both horses won impressively, with Tom’s d’Etat winning from a time standpoint and Midnight Bisou capturing hearts visually through the ease of her win.

Midnight Bisou cemented her status as the best female dirt router. If the connections want to tackle males more often, she owns the talent and proven success in open company to try those kinds of races more often. At this point in her career, the Breeders' Cup Classic is a logical goal.

Meet Reinier Macatangay

My first time at the racetrack came as a 5-year-old kid at Santa Anita Park. For most of my younger life, that was the only track I attended other the occasional visit to Hollywood Park. 

Years later, after graduating California State University, Stanislaus with an English MA, I began writing for Lady and the Track. From late 2014-2016, my articles were seen on a weekly basis and covered handicapping, interviews with well-known racing personalities, fashion and more. 

The handicapping style I use concentrates on pace analysis. Some horses are compromised by the pace. Others are helped. Handicappers just starting out cannot easily see how pace affects the finish, so with this blog, I hope to help those unsure of how to apply pace into their handicapping and post-race analysis. 

On an unrelated note, I enjoy video games and attending anime or comic-book conventions. I am currently based in Kentucky, but spend a lot of time traveling between there and California.

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