OLDSMAR, FL – If Tapwrit, the winner of today’s Grade 2, $350,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby, goes on to greater glory, then the fans in attendance at Tampa Bay Downs may remember his decisive surge entering the far turn as “the move.”
“He just exploded,” said Aron Wellman, President of co-owner Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners. “That was what we were hoping for, and he delivered.”
“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,” said jockey Jose Ortiz. “He’s really scary, and I think he is going to keep improving.”
“We were looking for a big effort from him, and this was everything we could hope for,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “He won pretty convincingly, and we’re very pleased.”
Tapwrit, who finished second to unbeaten McCraken here four weeks ago in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis, earned his second stakes victory, defeating a game State of Honor by 4 1/2 lengths. Wild Shot was third, followed by No Dozing, Beasley, Basha, Tale of Silence, Sonic Mule, Zion Valley, and The Money Monster.
Tapwrit’s time of 1:42.36 for the 1 1/16 mile is a new stakes record, bettering 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 short-lived Sam F. Davis track mark for the distance by winning the Challenger Stakes in 1:41.75.
“He (Tapwrit) 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,” Pletcher said. “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.”
Tapwrit improved to 3-for-5 in his career. The winner’s share of $210,000 raised his career earnings to $313,902.
Tapwrit is owned in partnership by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, John and Leslie Malone’s Bridlewood Farm, and Robert V. LaPenta. He was bred by My Meadowview LLC. The partners purchased him for $1.2-million two years ago at the August Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Yearling Sale. Tapwrit is by Tapit, out of the Successful Appeal mare Appealing Zophie.
“This was a breakout race for him,” LaPenta said. “I really felt he stepped up today. This is such a tough sport, and a win like this brings you to the moon.”
For now, Ortiz is prepared to keep both feet firmly in the irons.
“I really like him a lot, and I think he can go a mile-and-an-eighth and a mile-and-a-quarter,” he said. “If he has competition beside him, I think he is going to get much and much better.”
A crowd of 10,079 more than did its part to make the day memorable, contributing to a total wagering handle of $12,123,021.60, the second-largest figure in Tampa Bay Downs annals.
“We’re extremely pleased and proud to see our biggest day receive such tremendous support from the Tampa Bay community,” said track Vice President-General Manager Peter Berube. “We wish all the participants the best of fortune going forward, and naturally, we’re hopeful Tapwrit will move on to compete in the Kentucky Derby.”
Tapwrit returned $4.20, $3.20, and $2.80. State of Honor brought back $7 and $4.60, while Wild Shot paid $4 to show.
Tampa Bay Downs