LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013) – Tapiture had failed to find the winner’s circle in the first three races of his young career, but he displayed a liking for a brighter spotlight when he rallied from just off the pace under jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. for an easy 4 ¼-length victory in the 87th running of the $175,200 Kentucky Jockey Club (Grade II) for 2-year-olds, the co-featured event on Saturday’s closing day of the 25-day Fall Meet at Churchill Downs.
Trained by Steve Asmussen, Tapiture rallied from fifth to roll to his easy victory in the 1 1/16-mile race over a field of opponents that was reduced to eight following the pre-race scratch of morning line favorite Almost Famous. Trainer Pat Byrne decided against a run by Almost Famous after the colt suffered a minor hoof bruise that resulted in a small infection.
A son of Tapit owned by Ron Winchell and bred by Winchell Thoroughbreds, Tapiture was the Kentucky Jockey Club’s second betting choice at 3-1 and paid $8.60, $4.60 and $3.20. Laddie Boy, a 19-1 shot who set the early pace under jockey Jesus Castanon, could not hold off the winner but held second by a neck and returned $19.20 and $8.20. Awesome Sky, also looking for his first win,rallied for third under Shaun Bridgmohan and paid $5.20 to show.
Although Tapiture had failed to win in three races prior to the Kentucky Jockey Club, he had displayed promise in each race. He finished second in his debut at Saratoga to Strong Mandate, who would later win the Grade 1 Hopeful in his next start, and then finished a close third behind Cleburne in the Grade III Iroquois at Churchill Downs. He ran a disappointing third in an earlier race in the Churchill Downs Fall Meet, but everything came together for the colt in the Kentucky Jockey Club, where he weaved his way through tight quarters on the first turn, moved into striking position and then easily moved to the lead and drew away in the stretch.
“It was pretty crowded going into the first turn,” Asnussen said. “I really liked the way he handled and got good position. Ricardo rode him really well.”
Tapiture completed the 1 1/16-mile distance over a fast track in 1:43.51. The victory improved his career record to 1-1-2 in four races and the winner’s purse of $104,279 boosted his overall earnings to $140,838.