Jockey Robby Albarado pushed the button on Tapitsfly approaching mid-stretch and the gray/roan daughter of Tapit responded willingly to produce a half-length victory over the pacesetting Rose Catherine in Oak Tree’s $909,000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (VIDEO) at Santa Anita Nov. 6.
Rose Catherine, ridden by Javier Castellano along the inside, and Tapitsfly, breaking from near the outside in the 12-horse field, ran one-two nearly the entire way while completing the one-mile journey in 1:34.25. Tapitsfly, trained by Dale Romans for owner/breeder Frank Jones Jr., went off as a slight overlay at 9-1.
Rose Catherine, a maiden winner in her first start on turf at Belmont Park last month, set solid quarter-mile fractions — :22.95, :47.02, and 1:10.33 — as Tapitsfly tracked in second. Tapitsfly increased the pressure approaching the final turn and kept the heat on in upper stretch. Approaching the eighth pole, Tapitsfly put a head in front and proved best in the drive to the wire. Rose Catherine was a game second.
“I just wanted to clear most of them into the first turn so I wouldn't get packed out too wide,” Albarado said. “She's awful quick leaving the gate. She got herself into position and the first time I pressed, she went on. She came home nice. She's a little fighter, I'll tell you that.”
No one else picked up their action in the stretch. House of Grace, with Mike Luzzi aboard, took third. Lillie Langtry, an Irish-bred filly from the Aidan O’Brien barn, was sent off as the 8-5 favorite. Racing mid-pack, she came under a ride on the far turn from jockey Johnny Murtagh but did not respond and finished eighth.
“I had a bit of a bump turning into the straight,” Murtagh said. “About halfway down the straight I got pushed out a bit, but I think she was done at the time.”
Tapitsfly came into race off a runner-up finish in the off-the-turf Miss Grillo at Belmont Park Oct. 4 as a prohibitive favorite. In her prior start, the 1 1/16-mile P.G. Johnson on a firm turf at Saratoga, she won by 1 1/4 lengths over Smart Seattle. The filly also broke her maiden at Saratoga, winning a seven-furlong off-the-turf race over a fast track in her fourth start. Her third lifetime win in seven starts was worth $540,000.
Tapitsfly served notice that she was ready for a grand effort, working five furlongs round dogs on the Santa Anita turf Oct. 31 in1:00 3/5.
“No one deserves to win a race like this more than Mr. Jones,” Romans said. “He’s been in the business a long time and has had horses for over 30 years. My father (Jerry Romans) trained for him before me. It’s just a great win for him and for me, too. I thought we had a great trip. I thought that if she got her nose in front, she wouldn’t stop. That other filly (Rose Catherine) ran a great race, but my filly hung on.”
Tapitsfly, out of the Marlin mare Flying Marlin, paid $21.60, $8.60, and $6, toping a $2 exacta of $152.40.
Rose Catherine, from the Todd Pletcher barn, returned $6.80 and $5.80.
“We thought we'd be on lead,” Pletcher said. “I thought Javier (Castellano) did a great job. She settled nicely and got a good second quarter. The other filly just stalked us the whole way and was a half better."
Pedigree: Tapitsfly is the third foal out of 10-year-old Flying Marlin, and her first winner. By Marlin out of the Fortunate Prospect mare Morning Dove, Flying Marlin won four of 18 starts in a two-year racing career and earned $146,051. She won three times on turf in 12 attempts and earned $113,986. Her only prior starter, Classy Marlin, a filly by Sky Classic, was unplaced in three starts. She has also produced a yearling by Pollard's Vision.