06/08/2014 11:03AM

Belmont Stakes: Tonalist doing well, will point to future stakes

Debra A. Roma
Tonalist stands with trainer Cristophe Clement and owner Robert Evans after winning the Belmont Stakes on Saturday at Belmont Park.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Tonalist, the winner of the 146th Belmont Stakes on Saturday, came out of the race in good condition and will be pointed to major stakes races on dirt the rest of the year, with the Travers Stakes at Saratoga being an obvious target, trainer Christophe Clement said Sunday morning at Belmont Park.

“He’s been trained to be a dirt horse. He’s bred to be a dirt horse. He will remain a dirt horse,” said Clement, whose success with grass runners often overshadows his considerable aptitude with dirt horses.

Tonalist is by Tapit and out of a mare by Pleasant Colony.

“I don’t think he has to go a mile and a half,” Clement said, referring to the Belmont distance. “But he has to go long. He can be competitive at a mile and an eighth and a mile and a quarter.”

The Jim Dandy, July 26 at Saratoga, is at 1 1/8 miles. The Travers, Aug. 23 at Saratoga, is at 1 1/4 miles.

The Belmont was the first Triple Crown race win for Clement, a native of France who has been training in the U.S. since 1991.

“This was really, really meaningful to me,” he said Sunday.

On Saturday, immediately after the race, Clement said, “Even if I’m French, I consider myself a New Yorker.”

Clement said Tonalist was “doing great” Sunday morning. He said Tonalist walked the barn’s shedrow Sunday morning for about 30 minutes.

Tonalist earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 100 for his Belmont victory.

“They don’t give you the race,” Clement said. “He had to fight pretty hard to do it.”

Tonalist was making just the fifth start of his career. He was coming off a win May 10 at Belmont Park in the Peter Pan Stakes. Joel Rosario rode him in the Peter Pan and the Belmont.

A late bloomer, Tonalist did not run in the Kentucky Derby or the Preakness.

“He was a very immature horse at the start of the year,” Clement said. “As the year has progressed, he’s gotten better. Physically and mentally, I think there’s still more to come. Keep him sound and fit, and that will take care of the rest.”

Commissioner, who led until deep stretch and lost the Belmont by a head, will seek a rematch with Tonalist in the Travers, his next major goal, trainer Todd Pletcher said Sunday.

Pletcher said the Jim Dandy or the Haskell at Monmouth on July 27 could be used as a prep to the Travers.

Commissioner “pulled up well,” said Pletcher, who said Commissioner would get a two-week freshening at the Kentucky farm of his owner and breeder, WinStar Farm, before resuming serious training at the end of the month.