Taptam, one of two contenders entered by Bret Calhoun, will carry top weight of 122 pounds in the $100,000 Gardenia Stakes (gr. III), the featured race of the Ellis Park summer meet.
Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch’s Texas-bred Taptam enters off a narrow defeat in the May 28 Wild Rose Stakes at Prairie Meadows and won the restricted Star of Texas Stakes at Sam Houston Race Park earlier this year. The 6-year-old daughter of Pleasant Tap is one of a dozen fillies and mares and one also-eligible entered for the one-mile Gardenia, which tops Ellis Park’s 10-race Saturday card.
Post time for the headliner is slated for 4:40 p.m. CDT.
Taptam (8-1) won two black-type events last year, including the Pippen Stakes at Oaklawn Park, and was runner-up to Zenyatta in the grade I Apple Blossom Handicap. Overall, the homebred mare has posted a 10-7-3 mark from 35 starts and earnings of more than $500,000. She will break from post 9 under Jamie Theriot.
Calhoun will also send out Coteau Grove Farms’ Bella Medaglia (6-1), runner-up in the Iowa Distaff June 24 at Prairie Meadows. The 4-year-old filly has won twice in six starts this season. She will break from post 12 under Brian Hernandez Jr.
Westrock Stables’ Tidal Pool is looking for her first graded win in her 12th try. Third in the 2010 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) and five-time graded stakes placed overall, the D. Wayne Lukas trainee earned her biggest victory in Oaklawn’s Red Bud Stakes in April. In her last two tries she was third in both the Vagrancy Handicap (gr. II) on the Churchill Downs dirt and Chicago Handicap (gr. III) on Arlington Park's Polytrack.
A daughter of Yankee Gentleman with earnings of more than $390,000 from 23 starts, Tidal Pool, the 4-1 morning-line favorite, will break from post 5 under Calvin Borel.
Second in the July 3 Chicago Handicap was Peter Redekop’s La Rocca and the 5-year-old Toccet mare is back with a good chance. A three-time listed stakes winner in Canada, La Rocca (5-1) is a consistent 4-4-5 from 18 lifetime tries. Trained by Michael Stidham, she ships in from Arlington with more than $350,000 in earnings. Seth Martinez will be in the irons.
Entering off a stakes win is Heuristic Stable’s Fortune Play. The 5-year-old mare won the seven-furlong Roxelana Stakes by a neck July 1 at Churchill Downs for her second victory in her last three starts. Trained by John Booker Jr., she was also third in the Winning Colors (gr. III) in May. Freddie Lenclud will ride.
In good form right now is Secret File, a winner of back-to-back allowance races at Churchill for trainer Charlie Lopresti. The 4-year-old Smart Strike filly has won three of her last four starts since breaking her maiden in February and now makes her stakes debut.
The only 3-year-old in the race is Buff and Fred Bradley’s Groupie Doll, a romping 8 1/2-length allowance winner in the July 4 in the Ellis Park slop. Groupie Doll gets a nine-pound weight break from Taptam and will carry 113 pounds.
$100,000 Gardenia Stakes (gr. III, Race 9, 4:40 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 Mile (Dirt) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. Secret File (KY), J K Court, 120, C Lopresti
2. Groupie Doll (KY), G Kuntzweiler, 113, W Bradley
3. La Rocca (KY), S B Martinez, 118, M Stidham
4. Orchestrator (KY), M Guidry, 118, K G McPeek
5. Tidal Pool (KY), C H Borel, 118, D W Lukas
6. Stage Magic (KY), C J Lanerie, 118, H Pitts
7. Backside Blackie (KY), J McKee, 118, T Glyshaw
8. Fortune Play (KY), F Lenclud, 118, J A Booker Jr.
9. Taptam (TX), J Theriot, 122, W B Calhoun
10. Dundalk Dust (IL), V Lebron, 118, C M Block
11. Choragus (KY), J M Johnson, 118, A L Reinstedler
12. Bella Medaglia (KY), B J Hernandez Jr., 118, W B Calhoun
Eye to Victory (KY), M Pedroza, 118, H Pitts