A return to Santa Anita revived the fortunes of Winchell Thoroughbreds' homebred Tapizar in Saturday's $909,000 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile. A previous winner over the track in the 2011 Grade 3 Sham and Grade 2 San Fernando this past January, the Tapit colt turned in a dominating performance under Corey Nakatani at odds of 15-1.
Forced four wide into the clubhouse turn, Tapizar was able to clear all but 5-2 favorite Emcee by the time the field reached the backstretch. Applying steady pressure on Emcee from second through splits of :22 3/5 and :46 2/5, Tapizar was asked for his bid rounding the far turn and edged clear of the favorite by a half-length by the time the three-quarter mark was reached in 1:10 3/5.In the stretch, Tapizar surged clear from his opponents and maintained his lead in the final furlong. Tapizar reached the wire 2 1/4 lengths in front and was timed in 1:35 1/5 over the fast main track. He returned $32.60, $13.60 and $8.20.
"The Kelso was a bad race," said trainer Steve Asmussen, referring to Tapizar's last-place finish in the Grade 2 handicap at Belmont Park in his final Dirt Mile prep. "We threw it out and he sure performed great today. He acted the day after the Kelso like he hadn't run. The racetrack and the circumstances leading up to that race were not ideal, but everything went smooth as glass out here. Scott Blasi, my assistant here, did a great job with him. I can't say enough about what a big win it is for him.
"His success at Santa Anita allowed us to think about this race to begin with, especially off such a bad race in the Kelso. He trained as good as ever out here, looked a picture of health, and ran well today."
Veteran California mainstay Rail Trip endured some difficulty during the running of the Dirt Mile, but came through the field to finish second by 1 3/4 lengths over longshot Delegation, who enjoyed a ground-saving trip most of the way but lacked a sufficient kick when an opening occurred. Completing the order of finish were John Scott, Jersey Town, Emcee, Shackleford, Fed Biz and Second City.
Classic winner Shackleford, making what is believed to be his last racetrack appearance, bobbled leaving the gate and was unable to show the early speed expected of him. Forced to stalk from a wide position down the backside, the Dale Romans trainee failed to respond when asked in the final quarter-mile.
Tapizar improved his career mark to 14-6-1-1, $972,632. The Kentucky-bred led gate-to-wire in winning the Sham by 4 1/4 lengths and the San Fernando by 3 1/2 lengths, both at 1 1/16 miles. However, Tapizar failed to show the same class in two previous Santa Anita starts at nine furlongs, in the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis and Grade 2 Strub. Prior to the Kelso, Tapizar was a 4 1/2-length winner of the West Virginia Governor's at Mountaineer Park and second in the Grade 3 Razorback Handicap.Tapizar was produced by the winning Deputy Minister mare Winning Call, a daughter of Grade 2 heroine Call Now. The latter was herself a half-sister to Grade 1 hero Olympio. Also hailing from this extended family are Grade 1 victors Pyro and Cuvee, and Grade 2 winners Bien Nicole, Will He Shine, Early Flyer, Fun House and Wild Wonder.