Virginia-raised Tonalist secures Belmont victory

On Saturday, Virginia-raised Tonalist gave connections the ultimate prize in racing: a Classic victory. Bred by The Plains-based Rene and Lauren Woolcott and out of a mare selected by Virginia bloodstock agent Patrick Lawley-Wakelin, the son of Tapit took his win streak to two-for-two in a head victory in the Belmont Stakes.

Lauren Woolcott at Woodslane Farm, where she and husband Rene raised Tonalist. Photo courtesy Woolcott.

Lauren Woolcott at Woodslane Farm, where she and husband Rene raised Tonalist. Photo courtesy Woolcott.

The lightly-raced Tonalist, raised in Virginia and sold by Timber Town Stables, is now owned by Shel Evans and trained by Christophe Clement. The colt debuted at Aqueduct in the fall of his 2-year-old year, finishing fourth, and went on to break his maiden by 4 lengths at Gulfstream in January. He was second in an allowance at that same oval the next month, then returned on May 10 to dominate the Peter Pan by 4 lengths, beating Belmont second Commissioner in the process.

[Tonalist was almost the horse that no one wanted. Want to know more? Read the VTA profile here.]

The rest, of course, is in the Classic record books. Tonalist broke from the outside post position, settling in sixth place not 2 lengths off the leaders. Rounding the first turn, the colt was trapped almost five wide on the Belmont loam, but he kept tight with the front-runners and by the quarter pole was grinding away at the lead. Despite lugging in under the shadow of the wire, he wore down front-runner Commissioner to prevail by a neck — giving Evans “the win Pleasant Colony didn’t get.”

Follow Tonalist’s journey from paddock to winner’s circle…

Photo courtesy Nick Hahn.

Here is Tonalist on his way to track for the 146th running of the Belmont Stakes. Photo courtesy Nick Hahn.

Tonalist broke from the outside post position -- the 11-hole. Photo courtesy Nick Hahn.

Tonalist broke from the outside post position — the 11-hole. Photo courtesy Nick Hahn.

After being stuck almost five wide through the first turn, Tonalist pressed the leaders in the stretch, bearing down on front-runner Commissioner... Photo courtesy Nick Hahn.

After being stuck almost five wide through the first turn, Tonalist pressed the leaders in the stretch, bearing down on front-runner Commissioner… Photo courtesy Nick Hahn.

Despite lugging in under the shadow of the wire, Tonalist determinedly ground past Commissioner to secure the victory by a neck. Photo courtesy Nick Hahn.

Despite lugging in under the shadow of the wire, Tonalist determinedly ground past Commissioner to secure the victory by a neck. Photo courtesy Nick Hahn.

Here, Tonalist comes back safely to head to the winner's circle! Photo courtesy Nick Hahn.

Here, Tonalist comes back safely to head to the winner’s circle! Photo courtesy Nick Hahn.

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