By Dick Downey
Christophe Clement has Tonalist gearing up for his return to the races; the question is what kind of race.
On Sunday, the son of Tapit returned to the worktab for the first time since his Jan. 18 maiden win going nine furlongs at Gulfstream Park. He put in an easy five-furlong breeze in 1:04 at Payson Park.
“It was a nice, easy maintenance work,” Clement said. “There are two or three options over the next few weeks. It’s too early right now to decide. I’ll work him back next weekend and then I will make my mind up after that. There is an allowance, there are some stakes. We’ve got many, many choices. My gut feeling is to go back in an allowance.”
In his maiden win, which came in his second career start, Tonalist rallied five wide for a four-length victory, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 90. The effort came two months after his debut when he ran fourth, beaten four lengths in a one-mile maiden race at Aqueduct under Joel Rosario. Joe Bravo rode him at Gulfstream Park when Rosario took off.
“He’s a lovely horse. He’s always been a lovely horse,” Clement said. “He ran a very good race as a 2-year-old at Aqueduct. I was very disappointed that the jockey didn’t stick on him at Gulfstream, but that happens. He had certainly trained very well before his last race. We don’t have many 3-year-olds by Tapit in the barn; he’s the only one. You have to be very excited.”
Clement is well known for horses that can go a distance on turf, but he was on the Triple Crown trail in 2003 with Dynever. That one captured the Lone Star Derby and finished fourth in the Belmont Stakes. He was also third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita. Clement is hoping for as much or more success with Tonalist.
“The dam is by Pleasant Colony, so he’s got all the makings of a horse who should stay long on the dirt,” Clement said of Tonalist. “His maiden (win) was very impressive. If you believe in numbers, his numbers were very good. The last good colt I had was Dynever, and he was good to us. Let’s hope he can have a career.”