Beverly Engelberg, Jan Steeper and Schoeder Farm's Blue Tone was well-ridden by Kent Desormeaux to lead all the way in Saturday's off-turf running of the G2 San Gabriel Stakes at Santa Anita, crossing the wire 1 1/2 lengths in front. The 8-year-old son of Birdstone was recording his first graded stakes win and the first for his owners; he covered nine furlongs over the sloppy main track in 1:49.82 for trainer Robert Hess, Jr.
“Not for nothing but he must be a mudder,” suggested Desormeaux. “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.”
A Red Tie Day broke nearly on top of the field, but Blue Tone utilized his inside post position to rush up for the lead in the rush toward the first turn. Desormeaux kept Blue Tone about a half-length in front of A Red Tie Day through fractions of :23.16 and :47.17, tracked by Itsinthepost and Point Piper, with Ring Weekend wide down the backstretch in fifth. A Red Tie Day began to encroach on the lead along with Itsinthepost entering the far turn, and Ring Weekend was guided four wide to begin his bid.
Blue Tone and Itsinthepost hit the top of the lane together, with Ring Weekend threatening along the outside. Favored Ring Weekend appeared to falter, and Itsinthepost appeared strong late as he put his head in front. Blue Tone fought back valiantly, bursting out to a one-length lead at the sixteenth pole and drawing that out to 1 1/2 lengths at the wire. Itsinthepost had to settle for second, and Twentytwentyvision closed from far behind the field to be third. Point Piper was fourth, and Ring Weekend crossed the line fifth.
“It was apparent there wasn't any pace in the race,” said Hess. “The other day when he stumbled (out of the gate when finishing fourth in the Grade III 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.”
Bred in Kentucky by Far View Stables, Blue Tone was a $100,000 Keeneland September Yearling purchase. The gelding did not debut until his 4-year-old season, but has been quite consistent for his ownership through a moderate racing schedule over his career. He had earned several graded stakes placings, but the San Gabriel is his first graded win. Overall, Blue Tone boasts a record of 7-4-3 from 25 starts, with earnings of over $550,000.
Blue Tone is being pointed to the $400,000 Poseidon Stakes on the Pegasus World Cup undercard.
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