2017 Fasig-Tipton Stable Tour with Jimmy Toner

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Jimmy Toner walked from one end to the other of his 18-stall barn behind the main track at Saratoga. Under the trees, with a bustling pedestrian (equine and human) crosswalk in front of it, the barn is quintessential Toner – straw pillows outside of the stalls, JJT initials, orange and white webbings, a solid batch of turf horses behind those webbings. For a change, Toner pointed to one of his horses in each stall of the barn, as opposed to about 75 percent with a few visitors at one end. (Originally published in the Aug. 4 issue of The Saratoga Special)

“This is the first year I’ve got the barn back in about 10 years, since Caesar Kimmel. We usually have about 12, but this is encouraging,” said Toner, who has another four at Belmont Park. “I’ve just been light number-wise, but now we’ve got some decent owners, a good group of horses, with a little luck between now and the end of the year, we should finish up really well, especially when we get some of these 2-year-olds going. We’re there, we just need a home run.”

Toner has always come up with those home runs – producing Grade 1 winners Soaring Softly, Memories Of Silver, Wonder Again, Winter Memories, Time And Motion, Flying Chevron, I’m Splendid and Tribulation in a long and storied career.

A few years back, The Special created a poll, asking trainers to determine the most underrated trainer, overwhelmingly, that honor went to Toner.

The Special’s Sean Clancy walked down Toner’s shedrow Monday morning.

Defiant Honor. Stakes-placed last year, the daughter of Speightstown went off the favorite in the Lake George but wound up sixth. “She won down at Belmont, little disappointing in the Lake George. We did a myectomy on her. She’s always had a tendency to displace. She’s doing well. We’re going to run her back here in the Riskaverse. I expect better things from her from here on out.”

Indurate. Purchased at the Fasig-Tipton Florida 2-year-old in training sale, Toner pats the son of Kitten’s Joy on the head. “He’s a full brother to Big Blue Kitten. He’s a nice horse, he really is. He’s doing really well, class horse, hopefully we’ll get a run into him before the end of the meet.”

Manitoulin. Last year, Toner mentioned that the son of Awesome Again needed to be castrated. That happened this winter and the new gelding is 2-for-3 since, taking turf allowance races at Keeneland and Belmont before finishing fourth in the Arlington Handicap. “We gelded him, it turned him around. He ran huge at Belmont, we ran him back in Chicago, he finished fourth, he got squeezed at the finish. I’ll run him up here in a three-other-than. He’s doing really well.”

Time And Motion. One of a long line of Darby Dan/Phillips Racing turf fillies to grace the sport, the daughter of Tapit won four stakes, including the Queen Elizabeth II, in 2016. Most recently she finished third in the Modesty and Beaugay Stakes. “She’s going to run in the Ballston Spa. We just haven’t found that groove this year. She’s running well enough, I’m just trying to find that little extra for her to run better, I think we’ve got it under control. She had an ovary that was bothering her, mentally she seems sharp now, she doesn’t seem irritated at things. I think that will turn the trick, otherwise, we’ll look for something else to fix. She hasn’t run bad but you have such big expectations.”

Bellavais. Another Phillips Racing homebred, the daughter of Tapit won the Ginger Brew Stakes in January and recently finished second in the Wild Applause at Belmont. “She’d fit under the webbing, she’s as tough as nails, she reminds me of a deer. Loves to train. I’m going to run her in a stake at Suffolk Saturday.”

Cool As You Like. New York-bred broke her maiden sprinting 6 furlongs on the dirt at Bemont Park July 13. Owned by Dennis Narlinger, the 3-year-old daughter of Macho Uno has improved with every start, producing a third, a second and a win in that order. “She won at Belmont, she’s been at Belmont, but she’ll come back and hopefully run here.” “Our dirt horse.”

Mominou. Purchased by Mike Ryan at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic May sale, the daughter of Congrats breezed 4 furlongs from the gate July 29. Assistant Tiffany Webb walked past her stall and said, “Our second dirt horse.” Toner laughed. “She breezed really well the other day, she’ll be ready to run, she’s OK. She doesn’t look like a 2-year-old.”

Boom Boom Boom. Bred by Pope McLean and purchased by Ryan for e Five Racing, the 3-year-old daughter of More Than Ready breezed a solid 5 furlongs on the turf July 28. “She breezed really well last week, she’ll be running in the next book, she’s a nice filly.”

Hunter O’Riley. Owned by Sean Shay and Mike Ryan, 4-year-old son of Tiz Wondeful upset the Bowling Green last weekend. “The big horse. He loves to train, just happy, gives you everything he’s got every time, a lunch-pail kind of guy, just comes to do his job every day, no special thing about him, just takes care of business, he’s a neat horse. It was such a thrill, it’s the most excited I’ve been about winning a race for a long time, especially the way he did it. To have one like him who tries so hard, he always runs against such good horses and he keeps trying.”

Valentines Romance. Daughter of Arch breezed five times at Belmont and once from the gate at Saratoga. “She was coming along pretty well, I breezed her out of the gate and she started to come up with a shin, so I’ll wait with her.”

Louisville First. New York-bred daughter of Girolamo won a New York Stallion Stakes last summer. “She finished fourth on Sunday, she ran a nice race, we’ll get another chance to run her back here before we leave. New York-bred who’s out of conditions, 5 1/2 (furlongs) here is a little too short and a mile is too long, she’ll be fine once we get back to Belmont. She tries hard, always tries hard.”

Appealing Briefs. AJ Suited Stable’s New York-bred has produced three seconds in his seven-start career, including a half-length loss at Belmont July 15. “He tries hard every time. He’s tough as nails. He and Bellavais, they’re this big, this narrow, but they’re just tough.”

Forever Wife. Three-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro is nearing her career debut, after a sharp 5-furlong breeze here July 28. “She was in England with Marco Botti, we just brought her here in January, we turned her out for a while, she’s doing really well. We’re happy with her. She breezed five-eighths with Boom Boom. She’s ready to run.”

Stereo Viewing. Purchased by Justin Nicholson at Fasig-Tipton Select Sale at Saratoga last summer, the Irish-bred daughter of Galileo breezed 3 furlongs from the gate July 30. “She wants to run long, she doesn’t have any speed, which is fine, but she’s got a good mind to her, she looks good physically, she’s training well. She probably won’t run here but we’ll try to get a run into her in the fall. She’s good. She’s good. I broke her, then turned her out for the winter and put her back in training, just to give her a chance to develop.”