When one thinks of Al Stall Jr., and the top horses he's trained during a stellar 27-year career, Grade I Breeders' Cup Classic winner Blame and champion Louisiana-bred Star Guitar immediately come to mind, but when it comes raw talent, the veteran conditioner believes Tom's d'Etat, who will be making his added-money debut less than two weeks shy of his 6-year-old season in Saturday's Tenacious Stakes at the Fair Grounds, ranks right up there.
Purchased by G M B Racing out of the Keeneland September Yearling Sale for $330,000 in 2014, Tom's d'Etat has started just nine times, winning five while banking $233,492.
“He's a tremendous athlete,” Stall said. “Talent wise he's on the top three or four horses that I've trained in my career, but he's just had a lot of small knick-knack things that have put him on the shelf for three months here, five months there. When he was off for over a year it was ankle issues, but he's going excellent right now so we're excited about him.”
When Tom's d'Etat (pronounced day-tah) has raced, he's been dominant. He's enters Saturday's stakes debut off three consecutive optional claiming allowance scores, winning those races by a combined 16 ½ lengths. Off more than 15 months prior to his most recent assignment on November 4 at Churchill, the son of Smart Strike disposed of fellow Tenacious rival Pioneer Sprint by 7 ¼ lengths over a one-turn mile with Saturday's jockey Shaun Bridgmohan in tow.
Out of the Giant's Causeway broodmare Julia Tuttle, whose dam Candy Cane (Arg.) is a full-sister to prominent North American stallion Candy Ride (Arg.), Tom's d'Etat was bred to be a good horse.
“I got plenty of Candy Rides and he doesn't remind me too much of them,” Stall said. “He's all Smart Strike. He's a Smart Strike, Mr. Prospector type of horse just because of the angles of his pastern and because of his body type. The Mr. Prospector line is something that you notice throughout the years at the sales.”
On Saturday, Stall hopes the entire racing world takes notice of Tom's d'Etat.
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