Band On Tour
Band On Tour (inside) held off Exculpatory to win at Pimlico. Photo by The Racing Biz.

It’s been a bit of a long road for four-year-old Band On Tour. But with three consecutive strong performances under his belt, it looks like the Bandbox gelding is finally starting to pay dividends.

Band On Tour posted a neck victory over favored Exculpatory Saturday afternoon at Pimlico. The win was his second in a row and marked the third straight race in which he had finished in the exacta.

“Phil [Capuano], Gary’s son, and [trainer Gary Capuano] have worked on it for a long time,” said Larry Fowler, breeder and owner of Band On Tour. “He’s come around really nicely as an older horse.”

Under jockey Jevian Toledo, Band On Tour went quickly to the front in the six-furlong race, an allowance for Maryland-bred or -sired horses that scratched down to just four runners.

Band On Tour set the tempo through an opening quarter-mile in 22.94 seconds and a half in 45.61. Straightening for home, Band On Tour began to widen the advantage.

But favored Exculpatory, under jockey Carol Cedeno, mounted a rally as the two remaining horses receded in the rearview mirror. Band On Tour held on to win by a neck over Exculpatory in 1:10.10 on a fast main track. It was nine lengths back to Artistic Reason in third.

Band On Tour paid $5.20 to win as the second choice and topped an exacta that returned $5.80 for a dollar.

“You feel satisfaction,” Fowler said. “Now you’re breeding: first you gotta wait 11 months. And then hopefully they come out straight and hopefully this and hopefully that and rightfully so, I guess.”

But in the case of Band On Tour, it wasn’t just the standard this and the standard that troubling Fowler, who is listed as co-owner with Non Stop Stable. Band On Tour made just a single start between September 11, 2019 and the beginning of 2021. And even when he did run, for several starts, it wasn’t much to look at.

“We thought he was going to be extremely talented,” Fowler said. “His first two races at Delaware were super.”

As a two-year-old, Band On Tour won at second asking by eight lengths while earning a gaudy 77 Beyer speed figure. But while preparing for a planned start in the First State Dash on Delaware Park’s 2019 Owners Day, Band On Tour suffered what Fowler said was a minor injury that nevertheless kept him from racing until the following June.

Band On Tour’s next start, in a Delaware allowance in June 2020, was a mess: he finished last while beaten nearly 20 lengths.

The connections gave him more time off, until January of this year. But in his first three starts of 2021, while showing somewhat improved form, he still finished fifth, fifth, and eighth.

“When we brought him back, he just, he didn’t want to be a real racehorse again,” Fowler said. “But now we’ve worked and worked, and here we are.”

Where we are is with an improving runner who now owns three wins from 11 career starts. Band On Tour has earned $97,895 to date.

Coincidentally, Exculpatory, the Mark Reid trainee who ran second in this contest, is out of the Broken Vow mare Elusory. That mare, also the dam of the stakes-placed Tappin Cat, is one that Fowler had — he bred and co-owns Tappin Cat — and said he gave to Grace and Louis Merryman.

“I gave that mare to Merryman because he was taking care of some other horses, and that’s the mom of the five-horse who got second,” Fowler said. “Isn’t that funny? It all comes around in circles.”

NOTES Jockey Jevian Toledo won four on the Saturday card at Pimlico, including with Band On Tour. “I feel blessed. My agent did a really good job finding me good mounts today,” Toledo said… Trainer Susan Cooney won twice on the card and now has five wins in 2021.