by Jeremy Plonk
June 29, 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.
June 22-28, 2020
MVP: Tom’s d’Etat
Owner: GMB Racing (Gayle Benson)
Trainer: Al Stall Jr.
Jockey: Miguel Mena
Performance: The 7-year-old continues to improve with age, winning his fourth straight in the June 27 Grade 2 Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs. The Smart Strike horse left no doubt in the Foster against a solid field, drawing off by 4-1/4 lengths over red-hot By My Standards. Sent away the 6-5 favorite in the Foster, Tom’s d’Etat zipped a mile and one-eighth in 1:47.30, just .02 off Victory Gallop’s track record set in the 1998 Foster. By comparison, the same-day Fleur de Lis Stakes was completed in 1:48.99.
On Tap: Tom’s d’Etat clearly ranks among the very top of the list of Breeders’ Cup Classic division favorites. The Nov. 7 destination at Keeneland likely will see only a single additional stop between now and then, though two races are possible. The Grade 1 Whitney on August 1 at Saratoga comes up first, but is at a mile and one-eighth. The Grade 1 Woodward on September 5 at Saratoga could give him a mile and one-quarter rehearsal, while the Jockey Club Gold Cup a month later at Belmont would offer the same test, just closer in timing to the Classic.
Honorable Mentions: In New York, Newspaperofrecord wired the Grade 1 Just A Game in impressive fashion June 27 at Belmont Park, defeating the likes of stablemate and 2019 Breeders’ Cup Mile heroine Uni. She’s now 2-for-2 on the campaign and back to her juvenile form. Midnight Bisou and/or Cazadero nearly gave Steve Asmussen a third MVP of June (previously Volatile, June 8; She’s a Julie, June 15). They cruised in the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis and Grade 3 Bashford Manor, respectively, at Churchill Downs on Saturday. And a shout-out to Pink Lloyd, Woodbine’s 8-year-old sprint maven who won the June 25 Grade 3 Cartier for the fourth time while advancing to 23-for-29 lifetime.