Bridlewood Farm, Robert LaPenta and Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners' Tapwrit took a big step forward on Saturday, stylishly putting away nine other sophomores in the G2 Tampa Bay Derby to win by about four lengths. Ridden by Jose Ortiz, the son of Tapit covered 1 1/16 miles over Tampa's fast main track in 1:42.36, good enough for a new stakes record at the distance. Tapwrit's win garnered an additional 50 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, virtually guaranteeing the Todd Pletcher trainee a spot in the starting gate on the first Saturday in May.
“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 Ortiz. “He's really scary, and I think he is going to keep improving.”
Basha broke out of the starting gate very quickly, but was quickly overcome by State of Honor and Sonic Mule vying for the lead. State of Honor was hung three-wide, but managed to get the lead during a first quarter mile in 23.42 seconds. Sonic Mule settled in second along the outside of Basha, with No Dozing in a perfect tracking spot in fourth. Tapwrit, meanwhile, was well-spotted outside horses in seventh position.
State of Honor extended his lead to 1 1/2 lengths down the backstretch as Ortiz tried to find room along the rail to have Tapwrit ready to advance when the time came. After the half in :46.65, State of Honor was staying on well on the lead but Sonic Mule and Basha were not making any progress. Approaching the far turn, Tapwrit finally found a seam at the rail, then swung out quickly, briefly checking off heels in his quest for running room.
Angled into the clear, Tapwrit hit the gas furiously, jumping into the bridle and immediately taking aim on State of Honor. Tapwrit blew past that rival before the top of the stretch, and was never seriously challenged again. He did appear to be a bit distracted alone on the front toward the wire, but finished up easily enough, besting State of Honor by about four lengths at the finish. Wild Shot came from near-last to gain third, with No Dozing sticking around for fourth position. Beasley was fifth.
“He 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.”
Bred in Kentucky by My Meadowview, Tapwrit was a $1.2 million yearling at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select sale. The colt finished an inexplicable 10th in his first outing at Saratoga, but rebounded two months later to break his maiden without trouble. A win in the listed Pulpit Stakes near the end of his 2-year-old season saw the connections eyeing Derby preps, and Tapwrit was a late-running second to the undefeated McCraken in the G3 Sam F. Davis Stakes in February. Overall, Tapwrit boasts three wins from five starts for earnings of just over $310,000.
Watch the race replay here:
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