Photo Courtesy Eclipse Sportswire
By Jack Shinar
Tapizar, returning to the scene of his only graded stakes wins for trainer Steve Asmussen, took the lead on the final turn and drew away from his rivals to register a handy win the $1 million Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park Nov. 3.
Winchell Thoroughbreds' Kentucky homebred overcame a wide trip on the first turn to prevail by 2 1/4 lengths at odds of 15-1. He clocked the distance in 1:35.34 on a fast track.
It was the first grade I victory for Tapizar, a 4-year-old colt by Tapit out of the Deputy Minister mare Winning Call.
Rail Trip finished best of the rest for second, with Delegation third. Emcee, the slight 5-2 favorite in the field of nine, faded to sixth, one length in front of Shackleford, who was also sent off at 5-2 and finished seventh after stumbling at the start and rallying briefly.
In spite of his strong record at Santa Anita, Tapizar was ignored in the wagering after a sixth-place finish, nearly 21 lengths behind the victorious Jersey Town in the Sept. 29 Kelso Handicap (gr. II). The one-turn mile Kelso was contested over a good Belmont Park main track that was not to his liking. Tapizar was bumped at the break that day and ducked in on the turn and dropped back quickly after chasing the early pace.
“The Kelso was a bad race.We threw it out and he sure performed great today," Asmussen said. "He acted the day after the Kelso like he hadn’t run. The racetrack and the circumstances leading up to that race were not ideal, but everything went smooth as glass out here."
Tapizar won the West Virginia Governor's Stakes at Mountaineer Park before that. He took the San Fernando Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita in January. He also landed his first graded stakes win in the Sham Stakes (gr. III) at Santa Anita as a 3-year-old in his second lifetime start and was considered a major player in the 2011 Triple Crown chase until injury knocked him out of action for eight months. Tapizar has won three times at Santa Anita from five tries.
“His success at Santa Anita allowed us to think about this race to begin with, especially off such a bad race in the Kelso," Asmussen said. "He trained as good as ever out here, looked a picture of health, and ran well today.”
Breaking fom post 8, Tapizar was four wide in the short run to the clubhouse turn but prominently placed about a half-length behind Emcee, who took the field along a brisk tempo. Fractions for the opening quarter-mile and half-mile were :22.77 and :46.58 up the backstretch. Tapizar took the lead on the outside of Emcee at the quarter pole and opened a 2 1/2-length advantage over the next furlong. The bay colt finished strongly in a firm drive from Nakatani.
“This never gets old. Winning a race on Breeders’ Cup day is special; it’s special just to get the chance to compete." Nakatani said. "It’s extremely gratifying. We had a good trip. He got away in good order. Last time, he just didn’t handle the track. I told Steve to go on to the Breeders’ Cup, and I’m glad he did.”
Rail Trip, with Jose Valdivia Jr. aboard, rallied from seventh at the mid-point of the turn to finish solidly in second. Delegation and Woodbine-based jockey Patick Husbands were next, 1 3/4 lengths behind the runner-up. John Scott was fourth, followed by Jersey Town, Emcee, Shackleford, Fed Biz, and Second City.
Tapizar earned $540,000 for his sixth victory in 14 lifetime races and has now banked $972,632.
The winner paid $32.60, $13.60, and $8.20 while keying a $245,60 exacta. Seven-year-old Rail Trip overcame the rail post to finish second for trainer Ron Ellis, returning $8.40 and $5.80. Delegation was $8.20 to show and completed a $1 trifecta worth $1,950.70.
"We fell into the lead and he gave me all he could," said Alan Garcia, jockey aboard Emcee. "Just no luck today.”
Call Now, the second dam of the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile winner, was bred and raced by Ron's father, Vern H. Winchell. The daugher of Wild Again won the Del Mar Debutante (gr. II) in 1994 and placed in the Oak Leaf Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita. She is out of Winchell's blue hen Carols Christmas, the dam of two other stakes winners.
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Corey Nakatani celebrates his Dirt Mile Victory
Photo Courtesy HorsePhotos.com