Al Stall Jr. Photo Courtesy Of NYRA
Whoever coined the phrase, nice guys finish last, didn’t know trainer Al Stall, Jr. Al Stall Jr., truly is one of the “good guys” in Thoroughbred racing. Stall Jr. is off to a fast start at the New Orleans Fair Grounds, and he closed out the Fall Churchill Downs meeting on a very high note.
Al won two races on the Fair Grounds opening day card on Thanksgiving Day, including the featured Thanksgiving Day Classic, with Graded Stakes winner, Bobby’s Wicked One. Then on Friday, two days before the closing day card at Churchill Downs, the Stall trained runner Tom’s d’Etat, crushed the field in the $600,000 Clark Handicap.
In a business that has it’s share of hard-to-love, egotistical, self-centered horsemen, Al Stall, Jr. is a standout in the likeable, humble, what can I do to help category.
When it comes to Al, he’s the same guy all the time, 24 hours a day. He’s genuine with his approach to everyone who crosses his path, from owners like Gayle Benson, owner of the New Orleans Saints, to the casual fan sitting in the grandstand.
Al has been a training fixture at the Fair Grounds for a long time, and as most people know, his father, Al Stall, Sr., was one of the most prominent figures in Louisiana horse racing for a very long time. Al Sr. was the head of the Louisiana State Racing Commission for a number of years, while racing some of the best horses at the Crescent City oval.
When the Fair Grounds turf course was under construction, without hesitation, Fair Grounds officials named it the Stall-Wilson turf course, in honor of Al Sr., and his racing partner, Roger Wilson.
Another phrase that is also accurate is that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Al Stall, Sr. was also one of the “good guys”.
Al Jr. was still in Kentucky on Monday afternoon when we talked by phone. In fact, he jokingly said he was waiting in line to pick-up his kids from school, like all the other moms, but he was eager to talk about his two graded stakes winners.
Al Jr. told me he bought Bobby’s Wicked One as a yearling for owner Bobby Guidry’s Autumn Hills Farm. He said; “I really liked this horse when he was just a yearling, and he’s turned out to be a really nice horse. He’s won two graded stakes, but unfortunately there are not a lot of opportunities to run a sprinter like him here at the Fair Grounds after mid-January. We’ll have to come up with a plan for him for the early part of 2020”.
As for Tom’s d’Etat, Al has him ranked second to Blame on the list of his best horses. Al Jr. said; “Blame was so special, but Tom is pretty special himself. Tom’s d’Etat has always had tons of ability, but he wasn’t the soundest horse in the barn. We’ve been through left ankle problems, which included two surgeries, an abscess and two screws, but for the last year or so he’s matured, and has really shown how talented he is”.
Al Jr. has a definite plan for his current stable star. “We’re going to freshen him up, train him up to the New Orleans Classic, then aim for the 2020 Breeders Cup Classic”.
Al’s 50 horse stable is always well balanced and always has a budding star or two in the shedrow. “Louisiana Champions Day is coming up on Saturday, December 14th, and we’ll have a couple to run that day.”
Binding Agreement, who also won on Thanksgiving Day, will make his next start in the Champions Day Juvenile race. He was very impressive, winning in a time of 1:04 flat going five and one-half furlongs, getting a 75 Beyer number. We’ll also run a filly named Emily Jo in the filly and mare turf”.
After Champions Day, Al Jr. will be looking for a couple of early Christmas presents, on the December 21st Santa’s Super Saturday card Al Jr. said; “We’ve got a Curlin first timer that is owned by Frank Fletcher that has raised a lot of eyebrows. Mr. Fletcher paid $500,000 for this colt, and named him FF Rocket. He’s doing everything right, and he looks like he’s got a big future.”
“We’ve also got another two-year-old, Sharecropper, that won his second time out at Churchill Downs. This colt is by Pioneerof The Nile, and is owned by Spendthrift Farm. We’re going to find out if he can progress to the next level”.
Al Stall, Jr. was bred, born and raised in Louisiana, and is continuing to make his mark, not only in Louisiana racing, but on the national racing scene. If you’re a young trainer coming up in this business, I strongly urge you to use Al Stall, Jr. as a role model. In my opinion, there’s nobody better.