KENTUCKY JOCKEY CLUB STAKES | PURSE: $150,000 | 2-YEAR-OLDS | Grade 2 | 1 1/16 MILES
Tapiture put away early leader Laddie Boy in early stretch and then drew off to register a 4 ¼-length knockout victory in the $175,200 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes Saturday, Nov. 30 at Churchill Downs.
Winchell Thoroughbreds' homebred Tapiture entered the race as a maiden but the Tapit colt had raced well in the Iroquois Stakes, where he seized the lead in midstretch of the Sept. 7 test at Churchill Downs before fading to third. Tapiture entered off a third-place finish in an Oct. 27 maiden special weight race at Churchill where he led early and carried that advantage into the stretch before fading to third.
Returning to his rating style in the Kentucky Jockey Club, Tapiture delivered a key move entering the far turn when he quickly improved from fifth to second, responding to encouragement from jockey Ricardo Santana Jr., who secured a Churchill graded stakes for the first time in his career.
Tapiture tracked early leader Laddie Boy through the far turn before striking the front in six furlongs in 1:11.86. Tapiture then put on a show as he drew off to the easy victory, completing 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.51 on a fast track.
Winning trainer Steve Asmussen picked up his second Kentucky Jockey Club victory as he saddled Private Vow to victory in the 2005 edition of the 1 1/16-mile race for 2-year-olds.
Tapiture returned $8.60 to win, $4.60 to place, and $3.20 to show. Kevin Jacobsen's Laddie Boy, sent off at 19-1, held second and returned $19.20 to place and $8.20 to show while John Oxley's Awesome Sky, who made a big move in the far turn, settled for third and paid $5.20 to show.
With the victory and his third-place finish in the Iroquois, Tapiture now has 12 points in the early going in the Road to the Kentucky Derby points standings. Saturday's race awarded Tapiture 10 points, Laddie Boy 4, Awesome Sky 2, and fourth-place finisher Buck Magic 1.
The victory by Tapiture follows the September Churchill score by Winchell Thoroughbreds' homebred juvenile filly Untapable, also by Tapit, in the Pocahontas Stakes. Out of the winning Olympio mare Free Spin, Tapiture is a full brother to stakes-winning colt Retap and stakes-winning filly Remit.
The complexion of the race changed when 6-5 morning-line favorite Almost Famous, who figured to race on the lead from his inside post position, was scratched a few hours before the race because of a stone bruise in his left hind foot.
"So we've got a horse that's not a 100 percent and we've decided we can't take a risk and run him. It's just bad timing, but unfortunately that's the game, said trainer Pat Byrne. "It's a timing thing. The bottom line is it's a timing thing. It's the kind of thing that happens all the time. If it happened last week or next week, we'd be fine."