08/24/2014 5:57PM

Tom's Tribute delivers in Del Mar Mile


DEL MAR, Calif. – Tom’s Tribute will go into the autumn as the top turf miler in Southern California.

Three stakes wins in his last four starts and an upset over the heavily favored Obviously in Sunday’s $250,500 Del Mar Mile have earned Tom’s Tribute that distinction. Trainer Jim Cassidy said after the race that Tom’s Tribute will make his next start in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita on Nov. 1.
Tom’s Tribute won the Grade 2 Del Mar Mile by a length over the 9-1 Rock Me Baby, who finished a half-length in front of the 30-1 Handsome Mike. Obviously, who won the race in 2012 and 2013 and was the 2-5 favorite Sunday, finished fourth. Obviously broke slowly, rushed to the lead, and faded in the final furlong.

The chaos of Obviously’s race worked in favor of Tom’s Tribute. Obviously set a quick pace of 22.20 seconds and 45.32 after his slow start, with Tom’s Tribute in fourth, trailing by four to six lengths early.

“When I saw that first fraction, I thought, ‘This is great,’ ” Cassidy said.

At that point, Cassidy was reliant on a smart ride by Smith, who won his seventh stakes win of the meeting in the Del Mar Handicap.

“You like to leave it to him,” Cassidy said. “He can read a race better than anybody.”

Smith guided Tom’s Tribute to the front in the final furlong. The second choice in the betting, Tom’s Tribute ($8.20) ran a mile in 1:33.75.

Obviously, who won the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile at Santa Anita in his last start in June, was beaten 2 1/4 lengths and was followed in the order of finish by Tigah, He Be Fire N Ice, and Alpha Bullet.

“His head moved when the gate opened,” jockey Joe Talamo said. “He probably lost five or six lengths at the start.”

Obviously attracted $183,149 of the $239,577 bet to show. His fourth-place finish resulted in larger-than-normal show payoffs – Tom’s Tribute paid $6.40 to show, Rock Me Baby paid $13.40 and Handsome Mike paid $29.20.

Tom’s Tribute has won 6 of 13 starts and earned $592,880 for owner Marilyn Braly. Earlier this year, Tom’s Tribute won the Thunder Road Stakes over a mile on turf at Santa Anita in April, finished third to Obviously in the Shoemaker Mile, and won the Grade 1 Eddie Read Stakes over 1 1/8 miles on turf here July 20.

Cassidy said a reduction in distance worked in favor of Tom’s Tribute for the Del Mar Mile.

“I was dropping back, and I thought that was an advantage I had,” he said.

“This is it until the Breeders’ Cup Mile. I think November will be here before we know it. We had to get by this race. This horse, Obviously, is no bum.”