Winchell Thoroughbreds and Gainesway Thoroughbreds’ Hightap ran right by odds-on favorite Luster in upper stretch and sprinted her way to a 3 1/4-length victory in the $111,500 Dogwood (gr. III) (VIDEO) for 3-year-old fillies at Churchill Downs May 30.
It was first graded stakes win for the gray/roan daughter of Tapit, who rebounded from a poor effort in the March 15 Honeybee (gr.III) last out at Oaklawn Park when finishing seventh. Shaun Bridgmohan rode the winner for Steve Asmussen.
Luster, a 6 1/4-length allowance winner on May 2 at Churchill, came up to take the lead away from Lady's Laughter on the turn and seemed to be poised for another big effort. But Hightap, who raced mid-pack in a field of nine through the backstretch, came four-wide to her outside, drew even nearing the final furlong and put her rival away approaching the sixteenth-pole. The final time for one-mile on the fast track was 1:35.78.
Luster, sent off at 4-5, was a clear second under Brian Hernandez Jr., 2 1/2 better than third-place Perfect for You and Jon Court.
“I had a good trip. It worked out very well," Bridgmohan said. "She was able to settle down in behind them. Around the middle of the turn I had a choice, and I saw the favorite in front of me and opted to follow her. When I was ready to move, we went ahead and she finished up really, really strong. She looked good.”
Hightap won for the third time in five lifetime starts. She broke her maiden at Fair Grounds by 9 1/4 lengths on Jan. 17 and a month later won on the same strip in allowance company.
Bred in Kentucky by Springland Farm from the Regal Classic mare Don’tellmichelle, she has earned $126,365.
The winner paid $14, $4.80 and $4. The exacta (2-5) returned 45.20 and the trifecta (2-5-8) was $311.20.
“We expected her to run better than what she did (in the Honeybee) and then we were surprised when she didn’t," assistant trainer Scott Blasi said. "Usually when something like that happens something wrong will show up. She had a hind foot bruise.
“I’m not sure (what is next). We’ll talk it over with Steve and the owners.”
Affirmed Truth, who set the early pace by going a quarter-mile in :23.12, was pulled up shortly after the half-mile pole by Calvin Borel. She was vanned off.