Race of the Week 2017

Blue Tone Goes All the Way in a Sloppy San Gabriel

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 lot better.”


“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


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