BALTIMORE, MD – Winchell Thoroughbreds’ homebred Tap Daddy wired a weather-shortened field of six in Saturday’s off-turf edition of the $100,000 James W. Murphy Stakes at Pimlico Race Course.
Breaking well from post 3 as the 2-1 favorite under Ricardo Santana, Jr., Tap Daddy took command two lanes off the rail while setting initial splits of :23.52, :47.28, and 1:11.82. California Night stayed tight along his outside until the far turn, but as the front stretch neared, Tap Daddy responded positively to a shake of the reins and began drawing away. The Steve Asmussen trainee steadily increased his advantage, hitting the wire with a 6 1/2-length lead in a final time of 1:43.67 for the 1 1/16-mile event over a sloppy (sealed) main track event that was originally scheduled for 1 mile over the turf.
“We had a lot of confidence in the horse,” said Santana, Jr. “I knew he was going to run well. He ran well in the mud in a big race at Keeneland (finishing third in last October’s Grade 3 Dixiana Bourbon Stakes). My plan was to put him on the lead, let him keep going, and what’s what he did.”
Threes Over Deuces was able to get up for second, 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Takedown, while Whirlin Curlin nosed out a badly-fading California Night for fourth. Magicalmeister was never a threat and finished sixth. Due to the change in racing surface, Black Stetson, Coltandmississippi, and Takedown all scratched.
Tap Daddy’s win was his first career stakes score and improved his overall record to 8-3-1-1. The 3-year-old son of Scat Daddy, out of a Tapit mare, has now earned $243,654 in his career.
“He ran well in the off going,” Asmussen said. “He’s just a very nice horse. He’s a very versatile horse. Everyone always says speed is good in the mud because if you handle it, you handle it immediately. He did, and when he went to the wire, he was taking to it very much. He handle it early and he handled it late.”
Tap Daddy returned $5.80 to win, $3 to place, and $2.40 to show. Threes Over Deuces brought back $3.20 to place and $2.60 to show, while Takedown paid $3 to show.