Tapwrit made the show his own as he won the $350,000 Gr.2 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs on Saturday, March 11. The gray colt took advantage of McCraken’s absence with no reservations, stamping himself as the latest real deal in this year’s ever-shifting crop of 3-year-olds.
“We were looking for a big effort from him. He won pretty convincingly, and we’re very pleased,” trainer Todd Pletcher said following the race.
State of Honor held the lead by a length over Sonic Mule early on to take the field through fractions of :23.42 for the quarter and :46.65 for the half. Meanwhile, Tapwrit, under jockey Jose Ortiz, was sent wide and caught in close company around the far turn. He settled further back in the field through the half mile mark, but from there began to make his move. Ortiz and Tapwrit bided their time as they worked between other horses to take up position in the three-path coming out of the far turn. State of Honor was passed with ease, and from there, Tapwrit found smooth sailing. He hit the wire 4 1/2 lengths ahead and stopped the clock in 1:42.36, a new stakes record time.
“He just exploded,” said Aron Wellman, president of Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, who co-owns Tapwrit with Bridlewood Farm and Robert LaPenta. “That was what we were hoping for, and he delivered.”
State of Honor and Wild Shot held on for second and third, respectively.
“He had kind of a rough trip around the first turn and got shuffled around a little, but he handled it professionally and steadied himself and got in good stride up the backstretch,” Pletcher said. “After he made the lead, Jose kept him occupied down the lane because he has a tendency to idle when he gets ahead. This was everything we could have hoped for.”
Tapwrit debuted last summer at Saratoga, where he finished last in a field of 10, but he hasn’t put a foot out of line since. He broke his maiden at second asking in a maiden special weight at Gulfstream Park West on November 6, 2016. From there he moved to stakes company to round out his two-year-old season, winning the Pulpit Stakes in December. His 2017 debut came in the February in the Gr.2 Sam F. Davis Stakes, where he finished second. Saturday’s win improved his record to 3 wins and a second from 5 career starts, totaling earnings of $313,902.
Tapwrit was bred in Kentucky by My Meadowview LLC and is out of graded stakes winning Appealing Zophie, a daughter of Successful Appeal. The son of Tapit was purchased by his current owners for $1.2 million at the 2015 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Yearling Sale, where he was consigned by Denali Stud.