Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC's Tapit, jumped from a debut maiden score a month ago to trounce a field of 2-year-olds in Saturday's $100,000 Laurel Futurity (gr. III).
Racing under jockey Ramon Dominguez, the spotted grey/white gelded son of Pulpit remained bottled up along the rail behind three horses before his rivals spread apart straightening for home and he could hustle through. Once into the clear, Tapit opened up on the field and came home 4 3/4 lengths the best in 1:43.81 for the 1 1/16-mile distance.
He paid $4, $2.60 and $2.10 while earning $60,000 as the even-money favorite.
Winning trainer Michael Dickinson and Dominguez teamed with A Huevo to win the $300,000 De Francis Dash at Laurel Saturday as well.
"My objective was to get him to relax and have him well placed, but he got into a traffic jam and that seemed to make him a little nervous, being boxed up like that," Dickinson said. "He got clear and showed what a class horse he is. It looked like he won rather easily. He was the last horse purchased by Verne Winchell before he passed away last year. I'd like to dedicate this win to him. His son Ron and racing manager David Fisk have indicated this will be his last start of the year. He will winter in Florida. I think he's just a good as horse as Soto."
Soto is Dickinson's star 3-year old who has lost just one time in six career starts.
Dominguez added, "Going to the first turn I got bumped sideways. He was very rank from then on. I was concerned all the way around the course. That usually takes too much out of them. I was fighting him and would not have been surprised if he had flattened out. I was impressed with his acceleration once I got through. He had every excuse to get beat today and he proved how much class he's got. There's no telling how good this horse can get, honestly. He's a real special horse."
Winchell paid $625,000 for Tapit at last year's Keeneland September Yearling Sale. Oldenburg Farms LLC bred the colt, who is from the Unbridled mare Tap Your Heels, in Kentucky.
Polish Rifle, ridden by Mario Pino, returned $3 and $2.10. Ghost Mountain, Edgar Prado aboard, paid $2.20 to show.