HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Tapicat, perfect in two previous starts over the Gulfstream sod, came through as the 4-5 favorite in the $75,000 Voodoo Dancer Stakes. Conceding six pounds to the rest of the field, the 123-pound highweight settled into stride early under jockey Joel Rosario, engaged the stubborn pacesetter She’s Spooky in the stretch and edged ahead in the final strides.
“She broke a little bit slow, but I thought if somebody wanted to go in front of me, that’s fine,” Rosario said. “She can do anything. After she broke like that, I just kind of let her do her thing. She was probably the best horse. She kind of hung a little bit getting to the horse in front. The track was a little wet today, so that might be why, but she ran good. She got it done.”
Purchased for $725,000 as a yearling at Keeneland by Ben Leon, Tapicat paired up victories over this turf course 12 months ago before winning the Florida Oaks (G3) in February. In her final start at three, she finished fifth in the Mrs. Revere Stakes (G2) at Churchill on November 16.
“We know that when she takes off on the lead, she goes wire to wire,” Leon explained. “We know that when she has run a mile and a sixteenth or a mile and an eighth, that she can come from behind.
“It was a nice win and it was a good effort,” Leon added. “It was a good ride by Joel and we’re very pleased with her. I will have to talk to [trainer] Bill [Mott] about her next start, but we intend to campaign her throughout the year.”
Second Time’s the Charm
A pair of colts celebrated their official 3-year-old birthdays by graduating from the maiden ranks in their second appearances, albeit in contrasting styles. Gambler’s Ghost, coming off a fourth-place finish as the favorite in a November 16 maiden at Churchill, went wire-to-window as the 5-2 second choice in Wednesday’s fifth race. An hour later, Ironicus caboosed the field in his turf bow, but came motoring down the center of the course to deny favored Picozza.
“We like this horse, he’s shown a lot of promise in his training,” trainer Eddie Kenneally said about Gambler’s Ghost. “I was disappointed he didn’t win first time out, but he just didn’t have a good trip. We know we’ve got a talented horse and he showed it today.”
Gambler’s Ghost, a son of Ghostzapper, broke like a shot from the rail and never looked back en route to a five-length success. The $150,000 2-year-old-in-training purchase was timed in 1:09.97.
“The rail is always a concern,” Kenneally added. “It wasn’t my preference. But the horse overcame that and ran a professional race.”
Ironicus, a homebred for Stuart Janney III, had been let go at 65-1 in his career opener on the dirt at Aqueduct on November 30 and ran to those odds, never threatening while finishing 12th in a 13-runner field. Sent off at 4-1 for today’s infield shift, the gray colt made an eye-catching late rally and won by 1 ¼ lengths.
“When he didn’t get away running, I didn’t know what to expect,” trainer Shug McGaughey offered. “But his whole family has been that way. He’s got a brother named Seal Cove that runs the same way, and he’s got another brother, Minister’s Joy, that would be way back and circle the field. When he kicked into gear I wasn’t sure if he’d get there or not, but I was pretty pleased with the way he was doing it.”
WHO’S HOT: Jockey Joel Rosario had an excellent first of January, visiting the winner’s circle on four occasions, including both of Wednesday’s stakes races. “It’s awesome, I’m starting the New Year good,” Rosario said after having his picture taken on General A Rod in the $100,000 Gulfstream Park Derby. Rosario had gotten off to a slow start earlier in the meet with a total of five winners.
Rainbow 6 Carryover: $189,080.22