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Most Valuable Pony (April 6-12): Tom's d'Etat

by Jeremy Plonk

April 13, 2020

Each Monday, I’ll select my Most Valuable Pony from the previous week’s racing action around the country. Who won the week? It could be a breakout performer, a known stakes commodity or the horse lifting the most loot. Chime in on Twitter @Xpressbet with your thoughts on who should be each week’s MVP.

April 6-12, 2020

MVP: Tom’s d’Etat

Owner: GMB Racing (Gayle Benson)

Trainer: Al Stall Jr.

Jockey: Joel Rosario

Performance: Welcome back to the 7-year-old Tom’s d’Etat, who on April 11 rallied with determination to win the $150,000 Oaklawn Mile. His first start since winning the Grade 1 Clark Handicap in November proved a challenge for the 4-5 chalk, but he was up to it. He collared Improbable nearing the wire to score by three-quarters of a length over last year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness favorite. It was quite a performance by the top pair that sets up for a promising 2020 campaign for both. Tom’s d’Etat has now won 10 of 17 races for nearly $1.3 million in a stop-and-start career. His 3-race win streak includes Keeneland’s Fayette prior to the Clark and Oaklawn Mile.

On Tap: The May 2 Oaklawn Handicap comes back in just 3 weeks, which may be tight for a veteran exiting a tough return race like this. Though he’s not been a 1-1/4 miles horse, there’s nothing in the pedigree or running lines that suggest Tom’s d’Etat should be aimed away from a potential Keeneland autumn return in the Breeders’ Cup Classic division. This Oaklawn Mile proves he can kick at a shorter trip in the Dirt Mile ranks as well. Last year, the son of Smart Strike appeared in summer races like the Grade 2 Stephen Foster at Churchill and Grade 1 Woodward at Saratoga. Expect a similar Kentucky-New York campaign if/when the calendar reopens.

Honorable Mentions: Shooters Shoot turned in an eye-catching allowance win at Oaklawn on April 11 behind a stretch-long duel with Blackberry Wine. Both 3-year-olds hinted at stakes promise. Mr. Big News upset the $200,000 Oaklawn Stakes on April 11 with a deep rally at 46-1 odds for his first stakes win. That win earned him an automatic berth into the May 2 Grade 2 Arkansas Derby. And perhaps the most promising winner of the week also came April 11 at Oaklawn when regally bred 3-year-old filly Casual debuted a rallying winner. The daughter of stars Curlin and Lady Tak scooted 6 furlongs in 1:09.24 and overcame traffic in the process.