01/06/2011 9:29PM

2010 Eclipse Awards: Boys At Tosconova

Adam Coglianese/NYRA

Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. says he gets his hands on about 30 to 40 2-year-olds a year.

"I haven’t had one like him,’’ Dutrow said.

Dutrow, speaking a few days before the Grade 1 Hopeful was run at Saratoga on Sept. 6, was referring to Boys At Tosconova, who would go on to win the Hopeful before finishing second to Uncle Mo in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6. Those performances, coupled with a dazzling 12-length maiden win at Belmont Park in July, earned Boys At Tosconova a spot as a finalist for the Eclipse Award as North America’s outstanding 2-year-old colt or gelding.

Boys At Tosconova began his career in Southern California under the tutelage of Bob Hess Jr., who trained the son of Officer for Todd Cady, Denny Kanakaris and Richard Hale. Hess was impressed enough with Boys At Tosconova to run him in the Grade 3 Kentucky Juvenile at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Oaks Day as a first-time starter, where he finished second to Lou Brissie.

That performance caught the eye of Mace and Samantha Siegel, whose Jay Em Ess Stable purchased majority interest from the previous owners, all of whom stayed in for a piece. Robert Herscu’s Hot Racing Stable LLC is also listed as part-owner. The Siegels transferred Boys At Tosconova to Dutrow, who didn’t run him until July 2 in a five-furlong maiden race at Belmont Park.

After breaking in midpack, Boys At Tosconova rushed to the lead under Ramon Dominguez to gain a one-length lead after running a quarter in 22.35 seconds. He continued to open up through a half-mile in 44.38 before winning in hand in 56.26, just 0.51 second off of Kelly Kip’s track record.

"It was like when we watched Big Brown run for the first time,’’ said Dutrow, referring to the horse that won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness for him in 2008. "We were scared to death to run him that day, but when he turned for home our whole lives changed.’’

Dominguez, a finalist for the Eclipse Award as North America’s leading jockey, has constantly marveled at Boys At Tosconova.

"What impressed me the most first time I rode him was he walked into the gate with an attitude that usually with a young horse like him you are kind of concerned if they’re even going to react when the doors open,’’ Dominguez said. "He was super sharp; he’s got the ability to go fast and to turn it off at the same time. He just has everything you’re looking for in a horse -- acceleration and just a great, great mind.’’

After displaying brilliant speed in his debut, Boys At Tosconova stalked from third in the four-horse Hopeful before taking control in midstretch en route to a 1 3/4-length victory over Stay Thirsty.

Following the Hopeful, Dutrow immediately said he would point the to the Juvenile, even though it would be his first start in two months and first start around two turns.

In the Juvenile, Boys At Tosconova rated kindly early on, advanced to within a length of the stalking Uncle Mo entering the far turn, but he could not match strides with that horse in the stretch. Boys At Tosconova finished 4 1/4 lengths behind Uncle Mo but six lengths clear of the rest of the field.

Since the Juvenile, Boys At Tosconova has been kept in regular training by Dutrow, who breezed him twice at Aqueduct before shipping him in early December to Gulfstream Park, where he breezed twice more before the end of 2010. Boys At Tosconova is tentatively scheduled to make his 3-year-old debut in the Grade 2, $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream on Jan. 30.

PAST PERFORMANCES: Boys At Tosconova's 2010 season PPs (PDF)

KEY RACE REPLAY: Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga >>