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Saratoga and Del Mar 2017

Tapiture Enters Ky Jockey Club Stakes Picture

He remains without a victory three starts into his career, but Ron Winchell’s Tapiture will run in Saturday’s 87th running of the $150,000-added Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) and the colt looms as an interesting contender in the 1 1/16-mile race for 2-year-olds.

Trainer Steve Asmussen confirmed Monday that the 2-year-old son of Tapit would make his fourth start in the Kentucky Jockey Club. Though he remains a maiden heading Saturday’s the race, he has kept strong company in his brief career.

He ran into the D. Wayne Lukas-trained Strong Mandate in his Saratoga debut and finished as the runner-up to the colt that would go on to win the Hopeful (GI) and finish third to New Year’s Day in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI). He stepped into stakes competition for Asmussen in his next start on Sept. 7 at Churchill Downs and ran third to Donegal Racing’s Cleburne, but Tapiture was beaten by just a half-length in that race at the Kentucky Jockey Club distance. 

Then came a disappointing third-place run behind fellow Kentucky Jockey Club contender Culprit in a one-mile maiden race at Churchill Downs on Oct. 27’s opening day “Stars of Tomorrow I” card, but he has done much to please Asmussen since.

“When he ran his nice race in the Iroquois we kind of made the decision to point him towards the Jockey Club,” Asmussen said. “We were disappointed in the maiden race he ran on opening day, but we were trying to use it as a prep and we’re just following through with the plan.

"We love how he’s trained since. I’m very concerned with the weather we’re having this week. The track was closed yesterday and we’ve had a little hiccup in our training schedule, but he’s doing well and I’m anxious to see how he does.”

Ricardo Santana Jr
will ride Tapiture for Asmussen, who won the Kentucky Jockey Club in 2005 with Private Vow.

Two Kentucky Jockey Club hopes turned in their final workouts for the race on Monday.

George Prussin’s Dobra Historia breezed four furlongs in :48.80, which was the second-fastest of 11 Monday moves at the distance. The Bill Mott-trained son of Unbridled’s Song was runner-up on Nov. 9 at Churchill Downs to likely Kentucky Jockey Club favorite Almost Famous in a 1 1/16-mile allowance race.

The morning’s bullet work was turned in by Awesome Sky, who is expected to seek his first career victory in the Kentucky Jockey Club and a second consecutive win in the race for owner-breeder John C. Oxley and trainer Mark Casse.

The Sky Mesa colt breezed four furlongs in :47, the best work of the day by nearly two seconds. 

Awesome Sky ran fifth last time out as the favorite in a 1 1/16-mile maiden race on Nov. 7. That effort followed a runner-up finish over Keeneland’s synthetic Polytrack surface in his career debut on Oct. 18.

"As long as he comes out today’s work good, we’re going in the Jockey Club,” said Norman Casse, the trainer’s son and assistant who oversees his father’s stable at Churchill Downs. “We thought he kind of had a rough trip last time, when he got stuck in a lot of traffic. Sometimes you’ve just got to take a chance.”

Oxley, who is seeking his fourth Kentucky Jockey Club victory, and Casse took last year’s running with Uncaptured. Oxley’s other winners were Jambalaya Jazz (1994) and Beethoven (2008).      

Known probable starters for the 87th running of the $150,000-added Kentucky Jockey Club (GII), (with trainers): Almost Famous (Pat Byrne), Awesome Sky (Mark Casse), Culprit (Dale Romans), Dobra Historia (Bill Mott) and Laddie Boy (Chuck Peery). Possible: All Cash (D. Wayne Lukas) Bro Rodrigeaux (Lukas), Financial Mogul (Rick Violette Jr.), and Ichiban Warrior (Todd Pletcher), Sheikinator (Ken McPeek).


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