Asked to go 12 furlongs for the first time in his career, Tap It Light answered the call in the $100,000 Tokyo City Cup Handicap (gr. III) (VIDEO) at Santa Anita March 27, holding off the late charge of Rendezvous by three-quarters of a length.
Tap It Light scored his first graded stakes victory at odds of 9-1 for trainer Mike Mitchell, who claimed the California-bred 6-year-old General Meeting gelding for $40,000 at Del Mar in the summer of 2008 off Jerry Hollendorfer, who trains Rendezvous.
‘’I liked his looks, but I didn’t know that he could go this far," Mitchell said of claiming Tap It Light. "But the more I worked with him, the more I thought he would run long."
Stepping up for the Tokyo City off a second-place showing in a 1 1/16-mile optional claiming allowance heat at Santa Anita March 13, Tap It Light has won three of his four starts for owners Scott Anastasi, Dan Capen and James Ukegawa since being claimed. He was out of action from September 2008 to Jan. 10, however.
Mitchell credits one of his clients, Dennis Ludington, for enabling Tap It Light to recover so soundly from a tendon injury.
“We split the tendon,” said Mitchell, “and then sent him to Dennis’ place in Utah where he stood in the snow for almost a year. The process, as administered by Dennis, worked wonders for him. The horse is completely sound now.”
He said Tap It Light could return in the San Juan Capistrano Invitational Handicap (gr. IIT) at about 1 3/4 miles on turf on April 18, closing day of the Santa Anita stand.
Ridden on the Pro-Ride main track by Tyler Baze, Tap It Light settled into a stalking position early. High Court Drama led for nearly a half-mile, which was clocked in :49.74, before being pulled out of the race on the clubhouse turn. Eagle Poise took over from there, leading into the stretch after going six furlongs in 1:15.39 and one mile in 1:40.89.
Tap it Light, who advanced into second at the race's midpoint, took over early in the homestretch and finished under urging from Baze as Rendezvous and jockey Joel Rosario drew close after a wide bid but could not get past. The winning time was 2:29.62 as Eagle Poise, ridden by Mike Smith, held on gamely for third, 1 1/4 lengths behind the winner. Philatelist, the 8-5 favorite in the field of eight, failed to respond in the stretch and finished fourth.
"He broke a length behind everybody and I just let him pick it up as he wanted to," Baze said. "He doesn’t really have a big turn of foot, so when we were going to the three-eighths pole, I just went for it. I didn’t want to wait for someone to come up to me and then have to try and quicken because that’s not his game.”
Tap It Light has now won four of eight starts on Santa Anita's main track with a pair of seconds. His eighth lifetime victory overall from 26 races was worth $60,000 and boosted his overall earnings to $368,211.
The winner carried 114 pounds and paid $21.60, $8.60 and $4.20 as the fourth choice. Renezvous, who ran fifth in the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) in his last start, returned $4.60 and $3.20 while completing a $98.60 exacta. Eagle Poise, racing for Juddmonte Farms and trainer Bill Mott, was $4 to show.
It was one length to the recent British import Philatelist, who carried co-high weight of 117 pounds and was coming off a near-miss to Richard's Kid in the San Antonio Handicap (gr. II) in his first American start Feb. 7. Quindici Man, Snowmaster and Unusual Suspect completed the order. High Court Drama was taken off the course by van after being pulled up.
Paula Capestro and Rick Taylor bred Tap It Light, who is out of the Half a Year mare Popular Opinion.