By Bill Finley
After declaring his intentions to give his recent Grade I winner Tom’s d’Etat (Smart Strike) the early months of 2020 off, trainer Al Stall Jr. said he is rethinking his options and may race the 6-year-old in the Jan. 25 GI Pegasus World Cup Invitational S. at Gulfstream.
Stall made the comments when appearing on this week’s edition of the TDN’s Writers’ Room podcast.
“I opened my big mouth and said ‘Let’s freshen him up a bit and point for the back half of the season,” Stall said. “That was before I had a chance to go over him really closely, jog him and had a chance to look at his demeanor. He really came out of the Clark well. I’m not exactly sure what we’re going to do. He’ll get a brief freshening for now. Whether we’d try the Pegasus again, I don’t know. He will definitely stay in America. No Saudi Arabia. No Dubai. If we don’t run in then Pegasus we’ll back off him a little more and point for something like the [GII] New Orleans Handicap or the [GIII] Ben Ali at Keeneland. We’ll look at some of the races Blame ran in in 2010, like the [GI] Whitney and the [GII] Stephen Foster.”
Stall’s also explained the reasoning for his plan to not leave the U.S. with Tom’s d’Etat despite the big-money Saudi Cup and G1 Dubai World Cup beckoning.
“Our horse will be seven in 2020,” he said. “It’s a long way to go and there’s a lot for him here domestically. I want to make it as easy as possible on the horse and keep him in our neck of the woods. We’d be very happy to win nice races like possibly the Pegasus, possibly the Stephen Foster, possibly the Whitney.”
Having overcome a series of setbacks in his career, Tom’s d’Etat did his best racing this year at age six. He finished up 2019 with back-to-back wins in the GII Fayette S. at Keeneland before winning the GI Clark H. His worst performance of the year came in the 2019 Pegasus, where he was ninth, beaten 27 1/4 lengths.