Tonalist won the Peter Pan Stakes impressively on Saturday at Belmont Park. His next race could be the Belmont Stakes on June 7. (Photo by Chelsea Durand/NYRA)
Tonalist looked every bit a legitimate Belmont Stakes contender when he swamped the opposition on Saturday in the $200,000 Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park.
The lightly raced Tapit colt charged ahead to challenge for the lead early in the 1 1/8-mile race and opened a clear advantage over Fabulous Kid. Jockey Joel Rosario was then able to get Tonalist to relax a little bit through three-quarters of a mile.
When Tonalist was slightly challenged near the top of the stretch by the triumvirate of Commissioner, Irish You Well and Matterhorn, he was ready with a powerful response. The bay colt shifted gears and surged well clear to win by 4 lengths, completing the distance in 1:48.30 on a track rated as sloppy.
Christophe Clement trains Tonalist for owner Robert S. Evans.
“Obviously, he broke a tad slow so [Rosario] sent him and showed more speed than expected, but he was just galloping along easily,” Clement said. “You could see he was striding very well. What impressed me was the last eighth of a mile, when he opened up again.”
TONALIST POWERED AWAY IN PETER PAN STRETCH
Photo by Adam Coglianese/NYRA
After finishing fourth in his career debut in November 2013, Tonalist opened some eyes with a 4-length romp in a 1 1/8-mile race in January at Gulfstream Park. After finishing second to eventual Florida Derby winner Constitution in February, Tonalist got a breather and he certainly looked like a fresh 3-year-old in his stakes debut in the Grade 2 Peter Pan.
“I thought he was fit [coming off the layoff],” Clement said. “I was very worried about the wet track. I don't breeze my horses on the wet track, so that was a complete question mark. He answered that pretty nicely.
“This win is nice, it’s great; Mr. [Robert] Evans is very happy. Let’s see how the horse comes out of it, but of course we have to think about the Belmont Stakes [on June 7]. We’re New York people and we’re at Belmont.”
Bred in Kentucky by Woodslane Farm, Tonalist is out of Settling Mist, a winner at 1 1/8 miles who is by 1981 Kentucky Derby winner Pleasant Colony. Settling Mist is a half-sister (same dam [mother], different sire [father]) to The Bink, the dam of multiple Grade 1 winner Riskaverse.
For fans looking for a classy pedigree with some stamina influences for the Belmont Stakes, Tonalist has just that. His third dam (maternal great-grandmother) in 1991 Broodmare of the Year Toll Booth, by Buckpasser, and this family is responsible for 1992 Horse of the Year, Belmont Stakes winner and breed-shaping sire A.P. Indy as well as more recently 2011 Horse of the Year Havre de Grace.
Commissioner finished second, 2 ¼ lengths ahead of Irish You Well, who nipped Matterhorn by a head for third.
Todd Pletcher, Commissioner’s trainer, said the Belmont also is on the radar for the Peter Pan runner-up.
“We certainly feel he would handle the distance of a mile and a half,” Pletcher said. “I thought he ran pretty well. Second best on the day, but he seemed to handle everything pretty well.”
For an Equibase chart, click here.