Barn Notes: Tom’s d’Etat, Frank Wooten

By Ryan Martin


One of the fascinating things about Thoroughbreds is their development from the time they are born, purchased from the sale, broken, and sent to the track for their racing career. In the case of Fair Grounds-based Pegasus World Cup contender Tom’s d’Etat, he had come a long way.

Long before the G M B Racing owned son of Smart Strike was a contender for North America’s richest race, which carries a purse of $9 million, he was picked out by Frank Wooten and trainer Al Stall, Jr. at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2014, where he was purchased for $330,000 from Hunter Valley Farm and sent to Wooten’s training facility in Camden, South Carolina to be broken.

“We called him Bumble like the abominable snowman because he was such a big, gawky baby and he wasn’t coordinated yet but he matured into a nice big horse,” Wooten said. “When we bought him and shipped him in he was very laid back. He was a lot like a hunter-jumper, anyone could’ve ridden him. Just easy to break and had a great attitude. He was almost on the lazy side. I pretty much would ride him the entire time. He was easy to gallop. He was a beautiful mover, but just kind of a lazy big horse, but he progressed form there.”

Once Tom’s d’Etat started breezing at Frank Wooten Stables, his laid back demeanor began to evolve into a more competitive one that he has conveyed on the racetrack.

“Once he started breezing he got more competitive,” Wooten said. “He took everything in stride. He was never a problem. He was not a bad actor and he plenty of manners. Mentally he was just a nice horse. I recall the first day we galloped him, I came back and told my wife that he was a plotter. He was just laid back I thought, ‘Oh my god’ but once you start breezing them. He took a big step forward when breezing.”

Six years young, Tom’s d’Etat has only raced nine times but found the winner’s circle six of his nine starts. His last four races were victories, including his stakes debut in the Tenacious Stakes last time out, which he won by 3½ lengths. Two starts ago on November 4, he romped over a fast main track at Churchill Downs by 7¼ lengths in his first start since July 2017.

“Al is a trainer that won’t push a horse,” Wooten said. “Even if they have even a minor problem, he’ll stop on them. He did the same thing with (2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner) Blame and gave him the time he needed.”

Frank Wooten Stables has been called home to some nice horses in recent years prior to their racing career. Horses like 2003 Champion Two-Year-Old Action This Day, Louisiana-Bred Grade I winning millionaire Happy Ticket as well as multiple graded stakes winning millionaire Upstart. With a victory in Saturday’s Pegasus World Cup, Tom’s d’Etat could be the next big horse to have been broken by Wooten and his crew.

“It would be awesome for everyone here,” Wooten said. “We’ve had some other big horses but this is a neat situation. Al has always thought a lot of him. He even wanted to go to the Pegasus last year, but he just wanted to make sure he was right.”

Tom’s d’Etat was bred in Kentucky by SF Racing and is out of the graded stakes placed Giant’s Causeway broodmare Julia Tuttle, whose dam Candy Cane (Arg.) is a full sister to Grade I winner and multiple champion producing stallion Candy Ride (Arg.).