In bloodlines and physical features, Tourist has been a horse who “looks the part,” as the popular backstretch refrain goes. And throughout his first 15 starts, the dark bay son of Tiznow indeed hinted at breakout potential with two trips to the Breeders’ Cup Mile and a fistful of placings in Grade I contests.
In his eighth try against top-level company, the WinStar Farm homebred finally delivered on his promise with a victory in the Grade I Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga. Now that the ceiling has been cracked, the 5-year-old horse will try to further distinguish himself against a field of 10 challengers in Saturday’s Grade I, $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland.
Outside of brilliant champion turf female Tepin — who is giving the boys a break by running against her own gender Saturday in the Grade I First Lady Stakes — the turf mile division has been one giant jump ball, as evidenced by the five Grade I winners in the Shadwell lineup.
With his victory in the Fourstardave on Aug. 20, Tourist is the most recent Grade I hero of the bunch — a feat that has made him the 3-1 morning-line favorite. Of his seven prior tries in Grade I races, Tourist had been fourth or better in five of those, including a third-place effort behind Grand Arch in last year’s Shadwell.
“We were happy for the horse because a lot of those times he has been unlucky in a lot of situations and it just came together (in the Fourstardave),” said Elliott Walden, president and CEO for WinStar, which co-owns Tourist along with Gary Barber and Wachtel Stable. “When you have a good horse, you like to showcase him and you get appreciative for the horse to finally get over that hump — not only for the connections but it was neat for Tourist as well.
“We relish any Grade I race and anytime a horse wins, it’s fun. But when it’s a homebred and it’s by one of our sires, so many people touched it on the farm and it just creates a much greater connection.”
There is a fine line between getting close and getting it done. For Tourist, part of what Walden believes has helped him grab the brass ring of Grade I success is some astute spacing of his starts.
The Bill Mott-trainee has run well fresh, including taking the 2015 More Than Ready Stakes off a 10-month layoff. Where he finished fourth in the Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on May 7 after wheeling back less than a month after running third in the Grade I Maker’s 46 Mile in April, he benefited from a bit more time between outings, finishing second in the Grade I Shoemaker Mile at Santa Anita Park on June 4 prior to his Fourstardave run.
“I think the timing between races has been very good this year and, because of that, he’s been very consistent,” Walden said. “Part of the design of getting (to the Breeders’ Cup Mile) is getting there the right way. It would be back in four weeks instead of five and we’ll have to take that with a grain of salt. But I do think because he hasn’t been overused all year, he’s got a good chance at firing again.”
It speaks to the depth of the Shadwell field that Mondialiste, the reigning Grade I Arlington Million winner, is no better than the co-fourth choice on the morning line at 6-1.
Were it not for Tepin, Mondialiste would likely have an unblemished record on this side of the ocean. The 6-year-old, globe-traveling son of Galileo won the 2015 Grade I Woodbine Mile in his North American debut last August prior to running second behind Tepin in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Keeneland.
Despite traveling to Hong Kong, France, England and back to the U.S. since December, Mondialiste has held his flesh extremely well and flaunted his versatility when he bested Kasaqui by a neck in the 1 1/4 -mile Arlington Million.
“Every time he’s gotten on a plane — touch wood — he’s run a big race,” said Fearghal Davis, head traveling lad for trainer David O’Meara. “I don’t think we could have him looking any better. He’s so tough when he comes into form. And if he runs to his form, he’ll be hard to beat because he is proven at the top level. He was unlucky in the Breeders’ Cup, and in hindsight you could say he should nearly be unbeaten in America.”
Miss Temple City already owns bragging rights over a chunk of her Shadwell rivals having become the first distaffer to win the Grade I Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland this April. The 4-year-old daughter of Temple City has lost her three starts since then, including a game fourth-place run in the Group II Duke of Cambridge Stakes at Royal Ascot in June.
“I thought she ran well in England, but she’s been off the board in her last few starts and she’s one of the best fillies I’ve ever trained,” said trainer Graham Motion, who will also saddle Grade I winner Ring Weekend in the Shadwell. “The last time (fifth in the Grade II Ballston Spa) she chased a rabbit. It was just a bad deal. The time before that (fourth in the Grade I Diana), she just didn’t have a clean trip. One jump after the wire in the Diana, she was past the winner.”