Sometimes we look for that measuring stick to see how athletes stack up against others. If there was any doubt about how tall Tom’s d”Etat is in the Thoroughbred racing game, folks got their answer in the Oaklawn Mile on April 11.

Making his 2020 debut, the 7-year old son of Smart Strike found himself thrown off into a street fight as a tough field awaited. Appearing to be a horse that had found his best stride later in his career, this 17th start looked to be no stroll through the park. Just how good was this Al Stall Jr. trained runner…we were about to find out.

Different physical setbacks had prevented this GMB Racing owned runner from making his way to the forefront. Under the guidance of a caring conditioner, the horse named for former New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson had won races at Saratoga, The Fairgrounds, and Churchill Downs while readying for a big leap into graded stakes company. That jump came last year as Tom had his busiest season with seven starts including six in graded stakes. Solid performances all season saw Stall’s talented runner close with impressive wins in the grade 2 Fayette at Keeneland and grade 1 Clark at Churchill.

Due to the temporary closing of tracks around the country, Tom’s 2020 debut saw him facing a suddenly salty field. Could he carry last year’s success into the new calendar year?

When the gates opened and as the rain came down, Tom was shuffled back to the second tier of horses behind very solid early fractions (22.9 opening quarter, 46.09 half mile). Still saddled in sixth with a quarter mile to go, Tom’s talent took over. Swinging to the outside under jockey Joel Rosario, Stall’s charge gobbled up ground with every stride. Rolling past the highly regarded Improbable in the shadow of the wire, everyone got their answer as to just how good this horse has become.

The final margin of victory may have been just a half length, but the way Tom closed down the lane spoke volumes about his talent. With 10 career wins and over $1.3 million in career earnings now in the saddle, the numbers speak as well. Some athletes are best early in their career, others blossom later. Right now, Tom’s d’Etat appears to be in full bloom.