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Tapitsfly Fills Void in Resume with Honey Fox Victory
By Ed Gray
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – It only takes a peek at the past performance lines in the Daily Racing Form to figure out that Tapitsfly’s triumph in Sunday’s $150,000 Honey Fox (G3) at Gulfstream Park can hardly be regarded as an upset.
What was surprising about the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner’s stretch-running victory in the mile turf event is that it marked her very first success in a graded stakes.
“It’s hard to believe that this is her first graded-stakes win,” trainer Dale Romans said in the winner’s circle. “The Breeders’ Cup (Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita) wasn’t graded yet when she won. She really deserves this to go along with her Breeders’ Cup.”
Tapitsfly has been a multiple graded stakes-place performer since capturing the inaugural running of the Juvenile Fillies Turf, now designated with a Grade 2 rating. However, the 5-year-old daughter of Tapit’s resume lacked the graded-stakes victory that is so important to a future broodmare’s value until her late-running score Sunday.
Although she was precocious enough to win a major stakes as a 2-year-old, Tapitsfly may well be hitting her best stride as a 5-year-old.
”She’s learned to relax and is a better horse this year,” Romans said after his mare’s victory by three-quarters of a length.
While she usually raced on or near the lead earlier in her career, Tapitsfly has showed a willingness to rate off the pace this year, including a very close third-place finish in the Marshua’s River (G3) at Gulfstream in January. Sunday, she rated in sixth behind pacesetter Romacaca around the first turn and along the length of the backstretch.
After picking up the pace on the final turn, jockey Julien Leparoux swung Tapitsfly to the outside for the stretch drive and the Kentucky-bred mare kicked in with a powerful run to overtake early stalkers Bay to Bay and La Reine Lionne.
“Everything went good. She broke sharp but relaxed right away for me. It was a nice comfortable pace in front for us,” Leparoux said. “She came out in the straight and finished up really good...very nice.”
Bay to Bay, ridden by Luis Contreras, nosed out La Reine Lionne and John Velazquez for second money.
“I got a perfect trip. I saved ground around the first turn. She was very comfortable all the way. I tried in the stretch to get out and get to the outside. She did everything…she probably just needed the race,” Contreras said. “But she ran great.”
La Reine Lionne, who had finished a head in front of Tapitsfly while finishing second in the Marshua’s River, finished more than three lengths ahead of beaten 3-2 favorite Future Generation.
“It was a beautiful ride by Johnny. I wanted her to be second (early). He rode her just like I wanted. When she makes the lead, I think she waits on horses a little bit, that’s just her. He had to go to the lead when the opportunity came. There was nothing he could have done,” La Reine Lionne’s trainer, Chad Brown, said. “I think she’ll be more effective if I can have someone follow a little further into the stretch.”
Tapitisfly, the 5-1 fourth betting choice in the field of nine, ran a mile on turf in 1:34.23 while collecting $90,000 for her fifth career victory to boost her bankroll to $880,050.
“She’s learned to relax and is a better horse this year. I haven’t got any races picked out for her. It’s a long year,” Romans. “We’ll sit down and map out a schedule that makes sense at some point.”