Tom’s d’Etat Rallies Past Improbable In Oaklawn Mile

Under a hand ride by Joel Rosario, GMB Racing LLC’s Tom’s d’Etat rallied wide into the stretch and ran down Improbable and Drayden Van Dyke to win Saturday’s $150,000 Oaklawn Mile at Oaklawn in Hot Springs, Ark. by three-quarters of a length. Bankit finished two lengths back in third, with Pioneer Spirit fourth in the field of 11 older runners.

The winner, trained by Al Stall, is a 7-year-old horse by Smart Strike out of Julia Tuttle, by Giant’s Causeway. He covered one mile on a sealed wet fast track in 1:35.83 following fractions of :22.90, :46.09, 1:10.34 and 1:23.31. Tom’s d’Etat paid $3.60 as the 4-5 favorite.

The Oaklawn Mile, contested during a downpour, was co-featured on Saturday’s spectator-free 12-race program at Oaklawn with the $200,000 Oaklawn Stakes for 3-year-olds. Both races were added to the stakes schedule in 2019 when Oaklawn extended its live race meeting until the first Saturday in May. The races were originally scheduled at the end of the meet, but track officials rearranged the stakes schedule when other tracks were required to suspend racing because of the coronavirus pandemic. The move pushed the G1 Arkansas Derby and other graded stakes to the final days of the meet.

Breaking from post three, Tom’s d’Etat saved ground around the first turn and raced in eighth position down the backstretch as Pioneer Spirit and Boldor battled on the front end. Improbable, breaking from the outside post position and a notorious “bad actor” in the starting gate, was away well, then was hustled toward the front and wound up going four wide around the first turn and down the backstretch run.

Improbable, a Grade 1 winner and the beaten favorite in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in 2019, continued four wide into and around the far turn, taking command into the stretch. Tom’s d’Etat had him measured, however, kicking into high gear after being taken off the rail going into the far turn by Rosario and seizing the lead in the final strides, despite the short stretch run. The finish line is at the sixteenth pole for one-mile races at Oaklawn.

Tom’s d’Etat was making his 2020 debut in the Oaklawn Mile after wrapping up his 2019 season with a Grade 2 victory in the Oct. 26 Fayette at Keeneland and the G1 Clark at Churchill Downs Nov. 29. Bred in Kentucky by SF Bloodstock, Tom’s d’Etat was winning for the 10th time in 17 career starts.

“Now that we’re talking post-race, I couldn’t be any more happy with exactly how it turned out,” said Stall. “The type of race he had, and the way Joel (Rosario) rode him to save a little bit to keep us on the upward part of the curve. That’s the hottest word in America right now. We don’t want to flatten the curve with this horse.”

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