Trainer Tom Amoss secured his 4,000th win when Reeves Thoroughbred Racing’s Isolate led gate to wire Aug. 10 in the $135,000 Tale of the Cat Stakes, a seven-furlong sprint for older horses at Saratoga Race Course.
An emotional Amoss said his immediate thoughts following the six-length score were of his family and their years of support.
“I thought about my mom and dad,” Amoss said. “They knew nothing about racing. I’m one of six boys. When I decided I wanted to be a horse trainer after high school, they said, ‘You have to get a college degree, but after that, we’ll be behind you whatever you want to do.’
“I got my degree in 1983 from LSU and went straight to the racetrack. I’d been familiar with the racetrack a bunch as I had part-time jobs there, but any trainer will tell you, you have to have a good family behind you because they make a lot of sacrifices.”
Isolate, a 4-year-old son of Mark Valeski broke alertly from the inside post under Tyler Gaffalione and marked off splits of :22.73 and :45.73 over the fast main track, with Mr. Phil tracking from second in front of Repo Rocks .
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Repo Rocks, with Andrew Wolfsont up, advanced four-wide through the turn with the Manny Franco-piloted even-money favorite Southern District chasing his bite. But there was no denying Isolate, who opened a 1 1/2-length advantage at the stretch call and drew off in 1:23.04. He returned $14.60.
Repo Rocks completed the exacta by 3 1/2 lengths over Mr Phil, with Southern District third. Awesome Gerry, who was pulled up at the half-mile pole, suffered a catastrophic injury to his right foreleg and was euthanized on track.
Amoss said he was concerned about Isolate being able to handle the stretch out to seven furlongs due to the potential threat of pace pressure from Mr Phil from post 5.
“When we were able to clear the field, I felt pretty comfortable,” Amoss said. “Turning for home, the big favorite moved up on our outside and I was like, ‘Here he comes, he’s going to give us his big run.’ But Isolate was able to kick on. I knew at the eighth pole he was going to win and that was a beautiful feeling.”
Gaffalione said he felt confident throughout and expressed gratitude at being part of the milestone score.
“It means the world,” Gaffalione said. “Tom has been a great supporter of mine the past few years ever since I came up to Kentucky. He’s given me such great opportunities and I’m so thankful to be part of the team.”
Tom Amoss is joined in the winner’s circle by daughter Hayley and wife Colleen
Isolate entered from a similar front-running effort in the 6 1/2-furlong Work All Week in June at Hawthorne, the bay colt’s third win in his four previous starts.
Amoss said Isolate touted himself in three workouts at Saratoga.
“Saratoga is a place where horses tell you right away whether they like the surface or not,” Amoss said. “Isolate was one of the ones in our barn who really liked the surface a lot. The worry was the distance and race setup, not his overall talent.”
Bred in Kentucky by Woodford Thoroughbreds out of the Unbridled’s Song mare Tranquil Song, Isolate banked $74,250 while improving his record to 11-6-1-2. He was purchased by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing for $70,000 from Woodford’s consignment to the 2018 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale.
Amoss, 60, who graduated from LSU with a degree in marketing, worked with horses in high school. After finishing college, he worked for trainers Jack Van Berg, Frank Brothers, Larry Robideaux, and John Parisella before going out on his own in 1987. The New Orleans native’s first graded-stakes win came in 1990 when Festive captured the New Orleans Handicap ( G3) at Fair Grounds. Heritage of Gold won the 2000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) at Oaklawn Park ahead of a score in that year’s Go for Wand Handicap (G1) at Saratoga.
He identified Joel Politi’s Serengeti Empress as a career favourite. The talented daughter of Alternation wired the 2019 Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill. Amoss also conditioned Serengeti Empress to victory in the 2020 Ballerina Stakes (G1) at the Spa.
“It’s got to be the Kentucky Oaks with Serengeti Empress,” said Amoss regarding a standout moment. “But there’s so many and I don’t want to leave any horse or person out. I just want to emphasize, in training, you can’t get anywhere without the horses and the owners that back you. I’ve had a lot of that and I’m so grateful to the owners and the athletes they gave me.”
This press release has been edited for content and style by BloodHorse Staff.