This article by Dave Valento appears in the Breeders' Cup edition of Horseplayer Monthly. To read the issue in its entirety, FOR FREE, please click here.
In 1992, A. P. Indy (Neil Drysdale) capped off a superb three-year old season by winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He defeated a full field of 13 rivals as the 2-1 favorite and did it from off the pace in a hand ride. The path that A. P. Indy took during his three-year old season is very similar to that of Tonalist (Christophe Clement), one of the main contenders in this year’s Classic.
Both colts have a royal pedigree. A. P. Indy is out of the champion broodmare, Weekend Surprise. Weekend Surprise is also the dam of Derby runner-up and Preakness winner, Summer Squall. Tonalist is out of the dam, Settling Mist. Settling Mist’s sibling, Easter Bunnette, is the dam of 2011 Horse of the Year, Havre De Grace.
Both A. P. Indy and Tonalist missed first two legs of the Triple Crown due to health issues. A. P. Indy was the morning line favorite for the 1992 Kentucky Derby but was scratched on race day due to a foot bruise. Tonalist had a lung infection and was sidelined prior to the Wood Memorial.
A. P. Indy returned from a 50 day layoff to beat six rivals in the G2 Peter Pan Stakes by 5 lengths. Tonalist returned from a 49 day layoff and beat six rivals in the same Peter Pan Stakes by 4 lengths.
Ironically, both defeated exactly 10 rivals in the Belmont and did it in virtually the same manner. Both sat just off the lead, traveling in the top three or four in the early going, moved wide on the turn, dug in gamely and won in tight finishes beating major longshots on the wire.
After the Belmont, A. P. Indy and Tonalist each lost twice prior to the Classic. A. P. Indy was defeated in the G2 Molson Million as the 3-5 favorite and the Jockey Gold Cup as the 5-2 second choice. Tonalist lost the G2 Jim Dandy as the 4-5 favorite and the G1 Travers as 5-2 second choice.
Christophe Clement removed the blinkers on Tonalist for the Jockey Gold Cup and the colt sat farther back than he had ever been. Despite being hindered when Wicked Strong lost his rider, he closed very strongly to win with style. Runner-up Zivo was also hindered by the loose horse but had a better trip and was in perfect striking position before being swallowed up by Tonalist. The pace of the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic appears to flatter that type of late running style.
If Tonalist wins the Breeders’ Cup Classic, he wins Horse of the Year honors….just like A. P. Indy.
David Valento is a handicapper for the Del Mar and Santa Anita websites, as well as his own website. He handicaps under the name of “Track Phantom” --- www.trackphantom.com