With the 2017 Triple Crown season in the rearview mirror, the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” season is gearing up. While “Win and You’re In” Challenge Series races for this year’s event have been taking place since January, the U.S. races are now coming fast and furious.
In this week’s Getting to Know feature, we focus on The Tabulator, winner of the Grade 3, $150,000 Iroquois Stakes on Sept. 16 at Churchill Downs and a guaranteed spot in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
There was a lot to like about The Tabulator’s victory in the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes on Sept. 16 and some aspects of his race that could be a cause for concern. Let’s first outline the positives we’ve seen so far on the racetrack from The Tabulator, who was a $460,000 purchase by owner Carolyn Wilson at the 2017 OBS March sale of 2-year-olds in training.
The Tabulator extended his unbeaten record to 3-for-3 with a three-quarter-length score in his graded stakes debut. The Iroquois came after he won his first career start on the synthetic surface at Arlington Park by nine lengths and the Prairie Gold Juvenile Stakes on the dirt main track at Prairie Meadows by 2 ¼ lengths.
The dark bay or brown colt by Dialed In earned 87 and 83 Equibase Speed Figures, respectively, for his first two starts and improved to a new career-best 92 for the Iroquois.
Unlike his sire Dialed In, a deep closer, The Tabulator has flashed speed in his three races. He led from start to finish in his debut and then relaxed comfortably a few lengths off a blistering pace in the Prairie Gold Juvenile before pulling away late. In the Iroquois, he stalked pacesetter Smart Remark from second, powered to the front on the turn, and opened up a commanding 2 ½-length lead in the stretch.
The Tabulator has won at three different racetracks in Illinois, Iowa, and Kentucky, so travel shouldn’t be an issue and he should handle shipping to the West Coast. He also has shown the versatility to win from on the lead of just off the pace as well as on different surfaces, including the synthetic track at Arlington. His tactical speed figures to be an especially important asset going 1 1/16 miles at Del Mar in Southern California. Speed is always valuable but perhaps even more so on the West Coast.
From an Equibase Speed Figure perspective, The Tabulator almost certainly will need to take a significant step forward to win the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. His 92 was nine points off the 101 Bolt d’Oro earned for winning the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity. For the last 20 years, the Juvenile winner has run between an 86 (Shanghai Bobby, 2012) and a 123 (War Pass, 2007; Uncle Mo, 2010) with a median Equibase Speed Figure of 108 and an average of 108.8.
Another factor to consider is that The Tabulator was shortening stride late in the Iroquois, which was his first attempt around two turns, and completed the final sixteenth of a mile in 7.4 seconds. That won’t get the job done in the Juvenile, especially given The Tabulator probably will be tracking a swifter pace than the pedestrian :47.73 half-mile set in the Iroquois.
With 2-year-olds, races are like building blocks. If we consider the Iroquois part of The Tabulator’s foundation, it wouldn’t be surprising to see this talented colt better equipped to handle two turns in his second attempt with improved stamina for the stretch run.
The Tabulator is clearly a gifted 2-year-old with natural ability, tactical speed, and versatility, but in order to win the Juvenile he’ll need to be faster late and faster overall.
The Tabulator is from the second crop of 2011 Florida Derby winner Dialed In, a deep closer by 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft who also won the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes and finished fourth in the 2011 Preakness Stakes.
With only 174 foals of racing age and 88 starters to date, it’s far too early to judge Dialed In as a sire, but he does have seven stakes winners to date led by top earner Gunnevera. From Dialed In’s first crop, Gunnevera won the Grade 2 Saratoga Special Stakes and $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes at 2 and the Grade 2 Xpressbet Fountain of Youth Stakes at 3. In August, Gunnevera rallied to finish second in the Grade 1 Travers Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets and he has earned $1,507,200. For a young sire like Dialed In, a top 3-year-old like Gunnevera is extraordinarily valuable.
The Tabulator’s dam (mother), Fly to the Stars, by European Horse of the Year Giant’s Causeway, showed little on the racetrack as she was unplaced in nine starts while trying turf and dirt and distances ranging from three-quarters of a mile to 1 1/8 miles. In addition to The Tabulator, Fly to the Stars produced 2015 California Oaks third-place finisher Star Via Strada.
His grandam (maternal grandmother), Rub al Khali, by breed-shaping sire Mr. Prospector, was unraced, but she produced a pair of stakes winners as well Ten Cents a Turn, the grandam of four group or graded stakes winners, including record-setting Grade 1 winner Bellamy Road.
The deeper you dig into the bottom half of The Tabulator’s pedigree, the more interesting it gets. Third dam (maternal great-grandmother) Arabian Dancer, by Damascus, produced 1991 Clark Handicap winner and sire Out of Place and graded stakes winner and multiple stakes producer Lead Kindly Light.
Arabian Dancer is a half-sister (same dam, different sire) to four-time Grade 1 winner Versailles Treaty, the dam of 2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner George Vancouver and graded stakes winner Saarland, and a full-sister (same dam, same sire) to multiple stakes winner On Retainer.