Inhales Field on Turn of Tampa Bay Derby
By Dick Downey
Tapwrit made a breathtaking move in the far turn of the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby, leaving the field in his wake and scooping up 50 Kentucky Derby qualifying points in the process.
Tapwrit broke mid-pack from post 5, was three wide on the first turn and found himself eighth after the first quarter-mile, six lengths off a 23.42 pace set by State of Honor. State of Honor continued to lead through a half-mile gone in 46.65, with Tapwrit five lengths behind, and three furlongs in 1:10.57. State of Honor had a two-length lead over No Dozing entering the far turn, but Tapwrit had already begun advancing and was fourth, 3 1/2 lengths back.
It wasn't long before Tapwrit was in control. Running in the clear three wide under Jose Ortiz, he made quick work of getting past his rivals and was three lengths ahead at the furlong marker. He kept extending with Ortiz applying the whip and won by 4 1/2 lengths over State of Honor.
Wild Shot, who was ninth in the early going and sixth after six furlongs, finished third, another 1 1/2 length back. No Dozing faded a bit to finish a half-length back in fourth, only a nose in front of Beasley. It was three more lengths back to Basha, followed by Tale of Silence and Sonic Mule. Zion Valley, who was 360-1 at post time, and The Money Monster did not finish. Both were walked off the track.
The Todd Pletcher trainee's time of 1:42.36 for the 1 1/16-mile is a new stakes record, eclipsing the mark of 1:42.82 set last year by Destin. Earlier on the card, the Pletcher-trained 5-year-old Stanford bettered McCraken’s track record of 1:42.45 in the Sam F. Davis while winning the Challenger Stakes in 1:41.75.
The Tampa Bay Derby victory by Tapwrit is Pletcher’s third in as many years and the trainer's fourth in the last five years and fifth overall.
Tapwrit improved to three wins in five starts, and the $210.000 winner’s share of the $350,000 purse raised his career earnings to $313,902. He was even money at post time off a 3-1 morning line.
State of Honor earned 20 Derby points in the Tampa Bay Derby, Wild Shot got 10 and No Dozing five
Tapwrit is owned in partnership by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, John and Leslie Malone’s Bridlewood Farm and Robert V. LaPenta. He was bred in Kentucky by My Meadowview LLC. The partners purchased him for $1.2 million two years ago at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga August Select Yearling Sale. Tapwrit was bred in Kentucky and is by Tapit, out of the Successful Appeal mare Appealing Zophie.
Todd Pletcher: “We were looking for a big effort from him, and this was everything we could hope for. He won pretty convincingly, and we’re very pleased. He had kind of a rough trip around the first turn and got shuffled around a little, but he handled it professionally and steadied himself and got in good stride up the backstretch/. After he made the lead, Jose kept him occupied down the lane because he has a tendency to idle when he gets ahead. This was everything we could have hoped for.”
Jose Ortiz: “When I asked him between the half-mile and 3/8 poles, he let me know he was going to win the race right away. He’s really scary, and I think he is going to keep improving. I really like him a lot, and I think he can go a mile-and-an-eighth and a mile-and-a-quarter. If he has competition beside him, I think he is going to get much and much better.”
Aron Wellman, President of co-owner Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners. “He just exploded. That was what we were hoping for, and he delivered.”
Robert LaPenta: “This was a breakout race for him. I really felt he stepped up today. This is such a tough sport, and a win like this brings you to the moon.”