Tonalist Prepares For Final Racing Season
Tonalist Prepares For Final Racing Season: Reigning Belmont Stakes champion Tonalist continues to train steadily towards an undetermined start. Since a fifth place finish in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic, the son of Tapit recorded seven workouts from Dec. 31 until now. According to Equibase, yesterday Tonalist worked in 49.40 for four furlongs at Payson Park Training Center.
While Tonalist never was a flashy worker, final times do not always give away a horse’s preparedness. Speaking on the phone from Florida, trainer Christophe Clement likes what he sees.
“He had a nice work this morning,” Clement explained. “We gave him a complete break and brought him back (in December). I’m delighted with how he’s been training.”
A final decision on where the colt begins a new campaign remains unknown. Clement wishes to speak to owner Robert S. Evans a bit more before finalizing plans. He emphasized that remaining on the east coast until the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland seems likely.
As for the aftermath of the Breeders Cup Classic, Clement believes the track worked against Tonalist. The top three finishers (Bayern, Toast of New York and California Chrome) basically ran together in the same positions for the entire race, while none of the closers made up significant ground. The race gained further controversy when Bayern broke inward at the beginning, interfering with Shared Belief and other horses.
Tonalist escaped the drama at the start, but faced a difficult task from a deep closing position. Sometimes, horse races come down to luck and connections must accept that.
“The horse trained well all year long, so you hope for a good result,” Clement remarked about the Breeders’ Cup. “It seemed impossible to come from last.”
The veteran trainer “first came to the United States in 1986, working initially for Taylor Made Farm and then with Hall of Fame trainer, Claude ‘Shug’ McGaughey.” After going back to Europe for few years, he returned and started his own stable in 1991.
With all the attention focused on Shared Belief and California Chrome recently, Clement feels fine away from the spotlight. At the same time, he thinks his horse belongs in the class of those two and downplays the notion that Tonalist only runs better at Belmont Park.
Clement said, “I feel very comfortable that that we can compete with anyone.”
“His race in the Travers, where he ran with Bayern on the pace was very good,” he added. “Tonalist won the Peter Pan on the slop. He’s a versatile kind.”
No matter where Tonalist runs, plans call for retirement after this year. Clement used the words “very excited” to describe Tonalist’s future career in the breeding shed, especially considering the distance influences surrounding the pedigree.
Tapit’s sire Pulpit comes from the A.P. Indy family of sires, known mostly for longer distance runners on dirt, while the sire of Tapit’s dam Tap Your Heels, Unbridled, won the 1990 Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic. On the bottom side, damsire Pleasant Colony won the 1981 Kentucky Derby and Preakness in his career, and finished third to Summing in the Belmont.
With Tapit as Tonalist’s sire and Pleasant Colony underneath, Tonalist’s breeding offers a classic distance pedigree from top to bottom, which the American thoroughbred industry needs. But, Tonalist will run this year first and fans await to see what other racing accomplishments come his way.