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Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®

Tapiture Cruises to Southwest Win

2/17/2014

By Dick Downey
@DowneyProfile


Tapiture turned a ground-saving trip into victory in the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park, vaulting to the top of the Kentucky Derby points leaderboard in the process.

Ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr., Tapiture broke from the rail and briefly lagged behind several horses entering the first turn. Tanzanite Cate led the 11-horse field at that point, followed by a headstrong Louies Flower, Kendall's Boy and Walt.

As the field straightened onto the backstretch, Tapiture was in contention and dueling for the lead with Smarty Jones Stakes winner Tanzanite Cat and Ride On Curlin, who also had a win at the track. Tapiture kept going while Tanzanite Cat backed out of it in the second turn, and Ride On Curlin, who was seven wide in the first turn, continued running.

Despite his history of engaging the early pace in most of his past performances, Strong Mandate was taken in hand early after being bumped at the start and was eighth after a quarter-mile. Despite being wide on the first turn and four and five wide rounding the turn for home, he managed to get within a length of the lead as the home stretch loomed. But Tapiture was not looking back and ran a fairly straight path to the wire, prevailing by 4 1/4 lengths.

Strong Mandate, who shifted in mid-stretch under Joel Rosario, finished second, six lengths ahead of Ride On Curlin. Coastline got the nod in a photo for fourth, another half-length back. They were followed by Tanzanite Cat, Bourbonize, Walt, Fire Starter, Son of Dixie, Paganol, Kendall's Boy and Louies Flower. Twenty-six lengths separated the winner and the last finisher.

The winning time was 1:44.95. At the half-mile juncture, Tapiture was two heads off the lead and a pace of :47.92. Once Tapiture was in the lead, he set fractions of 1:13.06 for six furlongs and 1:38.59 for the mile.

It was the 2014 debut for Tapiture, who was last seen winning the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs on Nov. 30. With the Oaklawn score, he became the first horse to have mulitple wins in the 18-race Kentucky Derby Prep Season series of scoring races.

The victory put 10 more Kentucky Derby points into Tapiture's column, bringing his total 22. Strong Mandate got four points, and Ride On Curlin and Coastline picked up two and one, respectively. Kentucky Derby points will jump significantly this Saturday in the Risen Star Stakes and Fountain of Youth Stakes, when 85 points are at stake in each race. Those contests kick off the Kentucky Derby Championship Series.

After training at Fair Grounds all winter, Tapiture was shipped to Oaklawn Park where he put in an afternoon breeze four days before the Southwest. Trainer Steve Asmussen said at the time that the track seemed to agree with Tapiture.

Sent off as the 5-1 second choice, Tapiture paid $13.00 to win, $4.80 to place and $3.20 to show. Strong Mandate was the post-time favorite at even-money odds.

A homebred owned by Ron Winchell, Tapiture is by Tapit out of the Olympio mare Free Spin. He was foaled on May 3 in Kentucky, which would put his actual birthday on the first Saturday in May this year.

Tapiture was a three-race maiden entering the Kentucky Jockey Club. The Southwest victory ran his record to two wins in five starts with a second and two thirds.

Asmussen said in the winner's circle that he plans to bring Tapiture back to Oaklawn for the Rebel Stakes on March 15.

Equibase Chart

CONNECTIONS QUOTES

Steve Asmussen: “It was a big step forward for him. I was impressed with what he did. I saw some things we need to improve, and he’ll have to continue to improve with the races coming up." Coming back for the Rebel? "I think the series sets up really well for him.”

Ricardo Santana Jr: “This horse was working really nice. I was so excited for this race. When we got to the straight, he showed all his class. He was really nice and was really relaxed today.”

D. Wayne Lukas, trainer of Strong Mandate: “He ran well. He didn’t have the cleanest of trips. We had wanted to be more forwardly placed, but he got bumped leaving the gate and was actually wide the whole trip. The winner ran exceptional. We’ll just go back to the barn and look at the Rebel Stakes.”

Joel Rosario, aboard Strong Mandate: “He broke a little slow. In the first turn, I wanted to get into position, but I couldn’t. I had to hold a bit because a few horses were bouncing in and out. He’s the kind of horse you need to let run easy. He’s a big horse, and you want to let him do what he wants. Maybe next time we’ll get a better trip."

Billy Gowan, trainer of Ride On Curlin: “He ran a heck of a race. He was hung nine wide, and he got a little bit tired. We’ll be back for the Rebel.”

Calvin Borel, aboard Ride On Curlin: “He ran good. He broke sharp. He got hung a little wide going into the first turn, and he didn’t like that. I had to take him back and let him go about his business. He got a little heavy at the end."

Terry Thompson, aboard Kendall's Boy: “He had a real rough trip. He got banged up basically from when the gates opened until he just gave up on me. He never got into stride. It was his first time going two turns, and we needed everything to go right.”

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