It’s this time of year when horsemen such as trainer Al Stall Jr. typically shift their strings from Louisiana’s Fair Grounds to Kentucky hotspots such as Churchill Downs and Keeneland.
Though neither’s an option for Stall given the coronavirus pandemic, he still found a spot for Grade 1-winning millionaire Tom’s d’Etat to kick off his 2020 season.
The 7-year-old son of Smart Strike is prominent on the list of probable contenders for Saturday’s $150,000 Oaklawn Mile, a two-turn event for older horses in Arkansas.
G M B Racing’s Tom’s d’Etat worked locally for the Oaklawn Mile on March 29, covering four furlongs in 48.60 seconds after a string of breezes at Fair Grounds. He could have run earlier this year, but Stall has kept patient with a horse he’s aiming longterm toward the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland.
Tom’s d’Etat finished last season with victories in three of his final four starts, taking the listed Alydar Stakes at Saratoga, Keeneland’s Fayette (G2) and Churchill Downs’ Clark (G1), the peak of a stop-and-start career that has gone smoothly of late.
Whether the distance is a fit is a fair question. Tom’s d’Etat last went this short in a Nov. 4, 2018, allowance optional claiming victory preceding his first foray into stakes company. But there are no other viable options on the racing calendar with his original targets, Keeneland’s Ben Ali (G3) and Churchill’s Alysheba (G2), postponed.
Still, much of the betting public’s money should fall Tom’s d’Etat’s way in a field also expected to include multiple graded winner Mr. Money making his 4-year-old debut, while Improbable could venture in from California for trainer Bob Baffert if he also decides to bring a 3-year-old for Saturday’s featured $200,000 Oaklawn Stakes, in which the top-three finishers earn a spot in the May 2 Arkansas Derby (G1).
John Servis told Oaklawn’s publicity staff he was working on the logistics of shipping in last out Stymie Stakes winner Diamond King, while Nun The Less comes off a victory over synthetic in Turfway Park’s Kentucky Cup Classic.
This prospective field stands to grow before entries are taken Wednesday:
|Rank||Silks||Horse / Sire||Rating||Trainer / Jockey||Last Start||Status|
|A. Stall, Jr.|