Photo: Coady Photography
With nowhere to go on the inside or in between foes, Tapiture shifted to the outside of the track, regathered his momentum and got his nose down on the wire in the final strides in a thrilling renewal of the Grade 2 West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer.
Under the expert piloting of jockey Rosie Napravnik, Tapiture settled in fifth, just behind the early pace set by Vicar's In Trouble. As the field entered the clubhouse turn, Tapiture had to steady slightly off the heels of Only I Know. The splits were moderate, the opening quarter going up in :23.39 and the first half in :47.23. Despite Only I Know, For Goodness Sake, Key for Success and Candy Boy trading running positions in the first flight, there was no huge change in the running order until the field made their way into the far turn.
With Vicar's In Trouble still showing the way into the far turn, Tapiture advanced up the inside and Candy Boy swung up on the outside, preparing to be set down for the stretch drive. Wheeling for home, Vicar's In Trouble shifted toward the rail after running in about the 3 path for the entirety of the race, effectively shutting off any continuing move up the inside by Tapiture.
Undaunted, Napravnik asked Tapiture to swing to the outside of both Candy Boy and "Vicar." Inside the final 70 yards, Candy Boy gained the advantage over pacesetting Vicar's In Trouble, but Tapiture was coming strong despite having altered course at the top of the lane. With the wire looming, Tapiture got up in the final couple of strides to hand Candy Boy a heartbreaking nose loss at the last minute. The final time for the 9 furlong affair was 1:50.66.
Vicar's In Trouble saved the show, and Classic Giacnroll closed for fourth after getting off to an awkward start. The order of finish was completed by For Goodness Sake, Divine View, Key for Success and Only I Know.
Sent off as the 9-5 second choice, Tapiture paid $5.60/$2.60/$2.20 for the win. Morning line and post time favorite Candy Boy returned $2.60/$2.20 off 8-5 odds, and Vicar's In Trouble third place finish was worth $2.80. The $2 exacta paid $13.60, the $2 trifecta returned $36.80, and the $1 superfecta was worth $84.70.
By Tapit and out of the Olympio mare Free Spin, Tapiture is a homebred for Winchell Thoroughbreds and is trained by Steven Asmussen. Those same connections also manage Kentucky Oaks winner Untapable. Today's victory improved Tapiture's career tally to 10: 4-2-2, and the $456,750 winner's share of the $750,000 WV Derby purse bumped the chestnut over the $1 million mark to $1,014,060. He previously won the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club as a juvenile before taking the G3 Southwest and the G3 Matt Winn earlier this year.