Tapizar seemed to find himself while breaking his maiden during the fourth and final start of his juvenile campaign last November at Churchill Downs.
Sent off as the even-money favorite Jan. 15, the son of Tapit proved he is a serious 3-year-old when he won his stakes debut in the $100,000 Sham (gr. III) (VIDEO) at Santa Anita Park. The Steve Asmussen trainee scored by 4 1/4 lengths over Clubhouse Ride, running 1 1/16 miles in 1:40.38 over the fast dirt. The bay colt is a Kentucky homebred of Winchell Thoroughbreds.
With Garrett Gomez aboard for the first time, Tapizar was stride-for-stride with Uncle Sam through a quick opening quarter-mile of :22.62. Once clear of Uncle Sam, the bay colt opened up an uncontested lead through a half-mile in :45.25 and a grueling six furlongs in 1:08.83.
Turning for home Tapizar had just one serious challenger and it was Clubhouse Ride, who entered the Sham off third-place finishes in the Delta Downs Jackpot (gr. III) and Hollywood Futurity (gr. I). But once he felt the pressure from his rival, Tapizar dug in with left-handed urging from Gomez and had the race put away once reaching the sixteenth-pole.
Clubhouse Ride settled for runner-up with Pat Valenzuela aboard, five lengths better than Anthony's Cross. Uncle Sam was fourth, followed by Pride of Silver.
"He was little bit fresher than I had anticipated him to be," Gomez said. "He went ahead and settled down as soon as I let him make the lead. He put his ears up and kind of cruised around there. I felt like I was loaded. When I started to turn for home, the gate was parked on the outside and there was a lot of stuff going on. When I asked him to pick it up, I couldn’t quite get his focus going, but nothing ever got close enough to make him pay attention, either. Hopefully, he has many more gears."
Tapizar broke his maiden by 10 1/2 lengths Nov. 27 at Churchill and was then sent west to California with Asmussen to start his sophomore campaign. It’s a campaign that now looks promising, with Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) hopes certainly on the horizon.
“He’s trained very nicely for us. His last race was very exciting,” Asmussen said. “Today was a big question mark. We wanted to know if he was a contender or a pretender. After this race we have a lot to be excited about.”
Asmussen said he would keep Tapizar in California and point him for the major 3-year-old races at Santa Anita. The $250,000 Robert B. Lewis (gr. II) at nine furlongs on Feb. 12 is next.
Tapizar has now earned $105,632 from his five starts. He is out of the Deputy Minister mare Winning Call. Winning Call, bred by the late Verne Winchell, is out of Winchell's grade II winner Call Now. Call Now is a half sister to Winchell's grade I winner Olympio, winner of the Arkansas Derby (gr. II) in 1991.
The winner paid $4.20, $2.80, and $2.10. The exacta (4-1) returned $13.20 and the trifecta (6-1-3) was worth $18.90 for $1.