Fair Grounds Barn Notes: Amoss Pointing Roiland to Lecomte Stakes

(Roiland winning at Churchill Downs / Coady Photography & Courtesy of the Fair Grounds)

By Ryan Martin, Fair Grounds Media Team:

AMOSS HOLDS LECOMTE CONTENDER ROILAND IN HIGH REGARD

Good horses are blessed with natural talent, but heart and the ability to overcome adversity is often what takes them to the next level. In just five career starts, Roiland has checked all the boxes, but Saturday’s Grade III $200,000 Lecomte Stakes represents a fresh and difficult challenge.

Trainer Tom Amoss acknowledges the fact that the son of Successful Appeal will likely be a price in the mile-and-70-yard event, but outrunning big odds is something that he’s done before. Two starts ago against winners at Churchill Downs, Roiland scored a 28-1 upset where he was bumped at the start, sat well off the pace and gunned down eventual graded stakes placed Limonite in the final strides.

“The day he ran at Churchill might have been one of the few times in my life that I looked at a horse that was a huge longshot on the board and thought that he should have been 6-5,” Amoss recalled. “He won that day, we ran him back in the (Kentucky Jockey Club) and he ran a troubled fifth. He has progressed really well into his 3-year-old campaign and I am excited about this race, recognizing that he’ll be a longshot.

“I know it’s going to be big field and I know that traffic is going to be an issue with a horse that comes from behind like him, but I think he has matured nicely and I think when you look at him in the paddock, you will see a good looking, physical horse that is going to catch your eye.”

Amoss thought highly of Roiland before he even ran, but it was his career debut at Indiana Grand Race Course that really opened the trainer’s eyes.

“He did something that you can’t do at Indiana Grand,” Amoss said. “In a sprint race, he came from well back to win going one turn in a sprint race and you can’t do that there. I’ve always liked Roiland, he’s a very good looking physical specimen and he’s been a late bloomer and late running horse so he’s been at a disadvantage in his early races and yet he can overcome that.”

Amoss has won the Lecomte a total of four times with Fly Cry (1994), Some Actor (1999), Ron the Greek (2010) and Mo Tom (2016). He compared Roiland to Ron the Greek who had the same running style and also broke his maiden in the state of Indiana first time out.

Current Fair Grounds leading rider James Graham will guide Roiland who breaks from post seven at 12-1 odds.

A James and Mary Durlacher homebred, Roiland is a full-brother to stakes winner Isotope. Both are out of the two-time winning Congaree broodmare Anabranch.

(Tom’s D’Etat winning at the Fair Grounds / Hodges Photography & Courtesy of the Fair Grounds)

TOM’S D’ETAT FIRES FIVE-FURLONG BULLET FOR PEGASUS WORLD CUP

Some horses don’t put as much into their work but their natural athleticism alone is enough for them to get the job done. That’s just what Tom’s d’Etat did for trainer Al Stall, Jr. on Saturday morning in his penultimate work for the Grade I $9 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park.

Under mostly cloudy skies, the G M B owned 6-year-old son of Smart Strike hit the track immediately following the renovation break  and drilled through five furlongs in 1:00.00 over a fast main track under Shaun Bridgmohan.

The move was his second breeze since a triumph in the Tenacious Stakes on December 22. Last Saturday, he went a half-mile in 49.00.

“We designed a five eights work for Tom’s d’Etat and it was executed properly,” Stall said. “He had a target about four or five lengths in front of him. He turned off, relaxed and kicked on past him. As in all his works, the best thing about it was the gallop out. His gallop out around the turn and around the backside was just beautiful. This is the one where we let him do something, in a nine million dollar race you don’t want to leave anything on the field.”

Lightly raced for a 6-year-old, Tom’s d’Etat scored his fourth victory in a row in the Tenacious Stakes last time out. Ankle issues put him on the shelf for 16 months following a nine-length allowance win at Saratoga in July 2017, where he defeated graded stakes winner Far From Over. He was able to return from the hiatus in winning fashion when defeating stakes winners Pioneer Spirit and Guest Suite over a fast main track at Churchill Downs in November in a third-level allowance race. Tom’s d’Etat will attempt his fifth consecutive victory in the Pegasus World Cup, which will be his graded stakes debut.

“Things come easy to him,” Stall said. “He can’t even blow out a match right now. He just lengthened his stride and went on about his business. He was ready for his meal. He’s like that on a day-to-day basis; he just hangs his numbers up when we ask him to.”

Depending on the forecast, Tom’s d’Etat will breeze for the final time before the Pegasus World Cup either Saturday or Sunday of next weekend.

Tom’s d’Etat is out of the Giant’s Causeway broodmare Julia Tuttle, whose dam Candy Cane (Arg.) is a full-sister to multiple champion producing stallion Candy Ride (Arg.).He was a $330,000 purchase from the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2014 from the consignment barn of Hunter Valley Farm and was bred in Kentucky by SF Bloodstock.

Also drilling through five-eighths in 1:00.00 is fellow Pegasus World Cup aspirant Seeking the Soul.

Fifth in last year’s Pegasus, the Charles Fipke-owned 6-year-old son of Perfect Soul (Ire.) was third in the Grade I Clark Handicap last out, a race which he won in 2017 for trainer Dallas Stewart.

Seeking the Soul is out of the Grade I placed Seeking the Gold broodmare Seeking the Title, who is a maternal granddaughter of iconic Hall of Fame mare Personal Ensign.

Both Tom’s d’Etat and Seeking the Soul recorded the fastest of 77 works at the five-eighths distance.

SHARP STRETCHES OUT MALPAIS FOR LECOMTE

When it comes to stretching horses out in distance, trainer Joe Sharp has a good idea of if and when a horse is able to do it and he believes that Grade III Lecomte runner Malpais has the credentials to get more ground.

Owned by Connie and Richard Snyder in partnership with Brett and Billie Jo Setzer, the 3-year-old son of Hard Spun broke his maiden on December 22 going six furlongs and will make his two-turn debut in the Lecomte.

“We had two sprints with him but obviously this time of the year you have to try them going longer,” Sharp said. “There are a few in there that are just like him that have broken their maiden and obviously it’s a huge step up but he’s doing well. I think in the past, horses that have come out of races such as his have done really well in the Lecomte, like (2014 winner) Vicar’s In Trouble. I’ve seen it work before.”

Malpais is out of the stakes placed El Corredor broodmare D’Elegance and is from the same family as black type stakes winners Dancing With Ruth and Brown Eyed Beauty both of whom won their stakes starts going one turn. Although, his pedigree suggests that he would be a sprinter, Sharp is confident in his distance capabilities.

“I think his temperament will give him the ability to get more distance,” Sharp said. “A lot of it is just up to them. It’s either a part of them or it’s not. Obviously the sounder they are mentally, the further it takes them in every aspect. That’s the thing with this horse; he handles anything you throw at him well. He’s just very mentally sound so it helps him to conserve energy.”

Malpais drew post two and will be guided by jockey Adam Beschizza at odds of 12-1. He was bred in Kentucky by his owners.

Meanwhile, Sharp’s undefeated sophomore filly Midnight Fantasy will take her show on the road to Delta Downs for her next outing and will race in the $100,000 Louisiana-Bred Premier Night Starlet on February 9.

The Louisiana-bred daughter of Midnight Lute worked a half-mile in 49.40 over the Fair Grounds main track on Saturday morning, her first breeze since winning the fillies division of the Louisiana Futurity on December 29.

“We’re going to stretch her out against her own kind and if that goes well then we’ll try her here against open company in her next start,” Sharp said.

Bred in Louisiana by J. Addock and Hume Wornall, Midnight Fantasy was purchased for $77,000 from this year’s Equine Sales of Louisiana 2-Year-Old and Horses of Racing Age Sale where she was consigned by Pike Racing. She is out of the Macho Uno broodmare St. Jean.

The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds

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