Tapiture, one of the top contenders for the May 3 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), breezed five furlongs in 1:02 4/5 at Churchill Downs the morning of April 21.
The Winchell Thoroughbreds homebred went to the track under Abel Flores shortly after it opened for training and several hours before the 15-minute time set aside by the track for only Derby and Longines Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) possible starters to train.
A son of Tapit —Free Spin, by Olympio who comes into the Derby off a fourth-place finish in the Arkansas Derby (gr. I), was timed in fractions of :13 2/5, :25 4/5 and :38. The colt galloped out six furlongs in 1:16 2/5 following the work.
"I loved how relaxed he was, pre-breeze and stuff," trainer Steve Asmussen said. "He went around there nice and smooth. I think that it's a very big deal for both him and (Winchell's Longines Kentucky Oaks [gr. I] contender) Untapable to have all the time that they've spent here at Churchill previously--just to settle back in and get into a routine."
One of the two victories for Tapiture in seven career starts was at Churchill Downs last fall when the colt broke his maiden by 4 1/4 lengths in winning the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II). That victory in his fourth career start was the last of the 2013 season for Tapiture, who won the Southwest Stakes (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park by the same 4 1/4-length margin in his 2014 debut.
With the Arkansas Derby run behind Tapiture--a race in which he was favored and finished 7 1/4 lengths behind the victorious Danza--Asmussen is hoping for a step forward in the Kentucky Derby.
"It's not the trip that he needs," Asmussen said. "I think we identify that and hopefully he'll bounce back and run a huge race here. I think it (the Kentucky Derby) is a tremendously competitive race, with California Chrome possibly standing out from a 'numbers' standpoint. But he's got to do that here. We've got nothing but respect for him, but I think everybody else is kind of in the same boat."
Tapiture will be ridden in the Kentucky Derby by Ricardo Santana Jr.