LOUISVILLE, KY – G M B Racing’s Tom’s d’Etat hit the front at the top of the stretch and coasted home to an easy victory in Friday’s $600,000 Clark Stakes Presented by Norton Healthcare (G1) at Churchill Downs.
Breaking from post 2 as the 4/5 favorite under Joel Rosario, Tom’s d’Etat raced comfortably past the judges for the first time while five foes fought for forward position. Ultimately, Mr. Buff secured early command heading into the clubhouse turn before posting opening fractions of :23.02, :47.43, and 1:11.82 while Fact Finding, Mr Freeze, Major Cabbie, and Bravazo all raced within striking distance.
Given the green light near the 5/16 pole, Tom’s d’Etat split decisively between Major Cabbie and Bravazo before meeting Mr. Freeze’s eye on the front end near the top of the stretch. Continuing to stretch his advantage with every stride, Tom’s d’Etat crossed 3 1/4 easy lengths the best in a final time of 1:48.84 for the 1 1/8-mile event over the fast main track.
“He ran unbelievable,” Rosario said. “It was such a good effort from him tonight to be able to sit behind the speed like that. He had such a strong kick in the stretch and won easily.”
Owendale rallied strongly from the rear to get up for second by a head over Mr Freeze at the wire. Draft Pick closed from eighth to take fourth ahead of Major Cabbie and the 2017 champion Seeking the Soul.
Completing the order of finish came Mocito Rojo, Bravazo, Snapper Sinclair, Mr. Buff, and Fact Finding. Pioneer Spirit was a trainer scratch.
Tom’s d’Etat’s win was his first at the Grade 1 level and his second straight overall, following the Hagyard Fayette Stakes (G2) at Keeneland. The 6-year-old son of Smart Strike now carries a record of 16-9-2-1 with $1,236,572 earned, becoming racing’s newest millionaire after taking home the $349,680 first-place prize. The win was especially significant because Tom’s d’Etat had missed over 15 straight months due to injuries earlier in his career.
“There are a lot of Grade 1 horses in this game that don’t make Grade 1 races,” said Stall, Jr. “To have a horse like this is extremely special for our entire barn. The care this horse gets day in and day out is amazing. I’m surprised he doesn’t gain more weight with how often he gets to graze. Doing right by him shows us how important that can be – look where we are now.”
Tom’s d’Etat returned $3.80 to win, $3 to place, and $2.40 to show. Owendale brought back $4.60 to place and $3.60 to show, while Mr Freeze paid $4.40 to show.