Tom’s D’Etat, Catholic Boy Both Tentatively Aiming For Saratoga’s Woodward

G M B Racing’s Tom’s d’Etat was in good shape on Saturday morning following his victory in the Alydar and trainer Al Stall, Jr. said the 6-year-old Smart Strike bay could return to action in the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward on August 31 at Saratoga Race Course.

“He certainly did it the right way [Friday], so we’ll take a good long look at him this week and see how he comes out of the race,” Stall said. “The next logical spot would be the Woodward, but we’ll see. It takes us about a week or so to evaluate how he comes out of a race. We’ll take our time and see what’s what.”

Lightly raced, Tom’s d’Etat notched a seventh career win in 13 starts, three of which were victories over the main track at the Spa. He broke his maiden at third asking in August 2016 at Saratoga and romped home to victory by nine lengths the following year at the Spa where he registered a 106 Beyer Speed Figure.

“Everything has been so minor,” Stall said of Tom’s d’Etat’s past issues. “He’s got clean legs. There’s no heat or no inflammation. He just had bone bruising and stuff like that. He’s got a better chance of coming back a sounder horse than one that has soft tissue or something like that.”

The Alydar was a second stakes win for Tom’s d’Etat, who won the Tenacious at Fair Grounds last December. He entered the Alydar off of two graded stakes placings at Churchill Downs when running second to McKinzie in the Grade 2 Alysheba and a third in the Grade 2 Stephen Foster.

Bred in Kentucky by SF Bloodstock, Tom’s d’Etat is out of the Giant’s Causeway broodmare Julia Tuttle, whose dam Candy Cane is a full-sister to multiple champion producing sire Candy Ride. He was purchased for $330,000 from the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2014.

Catholic Boy galloped 1 ½ miles over the Saratoga main track on Saturday, one day after arriving at the Spa from Belmont Park. The 4-year-old More Than Ready ridgling remains possible for the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward presented NYRA Bets on August 31, trainer Jonathan Thomas reported.

“We’re most likely going to wait and breeze him next weekend,” said Thomas, who trains Catholic Boy for Robert V. LaPenta, Madaket Stables, Siena Farm, and Twin Creeks Racing Stables. “The Woodward remains a major target. We’re going to let it go week by week, but we’re happy to have him up here.”

Winner of last year’s Grade 1 Runhappy Travers, Catholic Boy has made two starts this year, capturing the Grade 2 Dixie on the turf at Pimlico in May and finishing second by 4 ½ lengths to Preservationist in the Grade 2 Suburban on July 6 at Belmont Park.

“He came out of the [Suburban] with a couple of cuts,” said Thomas. “It took them a little longer to heal than I would have thought initially, so we’ve been very easy with him, just trying to let him regroup. He’s completely sound, but he had some superficial stuff that we wanted to heal up. We’re resuming serious training now. We lost a little bit of time, but I don’t think it’s going to be a detrimental thing.”

Favored at 13-10 in the 1 ¼-mile Suburban, Catholic Boy pulled to the lead following the opening quarter-mile and dictated a moderate pace until being headed by Preservationist at the quarter pole.

“I was disappointed but not discouraged with his effort,” said Thomas. “He’s a horse who has a little hype behind him and it was anticipated that he was going to win, but he ran into a very good horse in Preservationist. [Trainer] Jimmy [Jerkens] has done an excellent job with him. After the numbers came back, they ran almost identical numbers on the [Ragozin] Sheets. We gave [Preservationist] six pounds. I thought with a little bit of a better trip maybe we could have been a little closer, but at the end of the day he got a lot out of it, and, hopefully, he’ll take a step forward.”

Although Catholic Boy won at 1 ¼ miles in the 2018 Runhappy Travers and on turf in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational, Thomas thinks the ridgling may appreciate cutting back to 1 ⅛ miles in the Woodward.

“While he got a mile and a quarter as a 3-year-old, he seems to be showing a lot more speed now,” said Thomas. “He wants to breeze faster and is more engaged in his races, so the cutback may be what’s needed. He seems to thrive on the atmosphere [in Saratoga] and he won at 2 in the [Grade 3] With Anticipation. He clearly likes being up here. We just need to have a really good month.”

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