Frank L. Jones Jr’s Tapitsfly, who has started four times this year in graded events and has won or placed in all of them, will carry top weight of 121 pounds in the Early Times Mint Julep Handicap (gr. IIT) at Churchill Downs June 2.
The daughter of Tapit is coming off a close finish in which she was overtaken in deep stretch in the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (gr. IIT) on the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) undercard and beaten a length.
The Early Times Mint Julep, contested at 1 1/16 miles on grass for fillies and mares, is the eighth race on the card and is scheduled for 9:39 p.m EDT
Tapitsfly, a close third in last year’s Mint Julep, won the Honey Fox (gr. IIT) at Gulfstream Park in March three races back. Her other two efforts this year have come in third-place efforts in the Jenny Wiley (gr. IT) at Keeneland and the Marshua’s River (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream. Vincent Lebron rides her for the first time for trainer Dale Romans.
Lally Stable’s Heavenly Landing scored by a nose in the 1 1/16-mile Marshua’s River. By Pulpit, Heavenly Landing finished unplaced in her three other starts this year: the Jenny Wiley, the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile, and the Suwannee River (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream.
Barbara Hunter’s homebred Snow Top Mountain captured the Suwannee River (gr. IIT) in one of her three starts this year. The daughter of Najran enters the race off a seventh-place finish in the Hillsborough (gr. IIIT) at Tampa Bay Downs.
The Mint Julep boasts two other 2012 stakes winners. Artemus Kitten, a homebred for Ken and Sarah Ramsey, won the Bayou Handicap on turf at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots two races back in late March. By the Ramseys’ stallion Kitten's Joy , Artemus Kitten also sports a runner-up effort in this year’s Jersey Lilly on grass at Sam Houston Race Park.
The other stakes winner in the Mint Julep field, John J. Campo III’s Hard Seven, has started in six stakes this year, all out west, and has won or placed in all of them. The daughter of Rock Hard Ten ran third in the Santa Ana (gr. IIT) and the Santa Barbara (gr. IIT) in her last two starts.
Three of the four remaining members of the nine-horse Mint Julep field also are stakes performers. Bizzy Caroline, who finished third at Keeneland in her sole race this year, was a stakes winner at Churchill last year, capturing the Regret Stakes (gr. IIIT). By Afleet Alex , she also ran second at the Louisville track in last year’s Mrs. Revere (gr. IIT).
Ravi's Song, who captured two stakes in 2011, finished a close second in the Tiffany Lass at Fair Grounds to start this year. The daughter of Unbridled's Song enters the Mint Julep off a fourth-place finish in a Keeneland allowance race.
The Mint Julep will be the stakes debut for Warm Hugs. By Rock Hard Ten, she won an allowance race on the grass at Churchill in her last start.
$100,000 Early Times Mint Julep Handicap (gr. IIIT, Race 8, 9:39 p.m.) Fillies & Mares, 1 1/16 Miles (Turf)
Post Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer
1. Bizzy Caroline M R Cruz 118 K G McPeek
2. Artemus Kitten S Bridgmohan 117 M J Maker
3. Tapitsfly V Lebron 121 D L Romans
4. Heavenly Landing C J Lanerie 118 E Kenneally
5. Hard Seven L R Goncalves 118 D L McFarlane
6. Ravi’s Song M Mena 116 C Bowman
7. Joharmony B J Hernandez Jr. 115 W M Catalano
8. Snow Top Mountain S J Sellers 118 T F Proctor
9. Warm Hugs C S Nakatani 113 W I Mott