In what's seemingly been a long time coming, Juddmonte Farm's homebred Tacitus put things all together on Saturday when romping to his first victory in nearly 15 months in the Grade 2, $200,000 Suburban Handicap (G2) at Belmont Park on Saturday.
Adding blinkers and breaking from the rail in the 1 1/4-miles Suburban, Tacitus was keen early before finally settling in down the backstretch as longshot Parsimony and Mr. Buff dueled through fractions of :24.66 and :48.32 for the opening half mile.
Parsimony continued on the lead through six furlongs reached in 1:10.82 and when rounding the turn kicked clear of Mr. Buff, who had begun to falter. But just starting to find his best stride was Tacitus. The gray son of Tapit cut into Parsimony's lead and after a mile reached in 1:34.98, kicked clear of that rival and drew off to win by 8 1/4 lengths.
"He was going comfortable the whole way," Velazquez said of Tacitus. "We had a little pressure in the first part of the race and little by little we kept reaching back and reaching back. I just wanted to be a little further back. Once we passed the five-eighths pole, I put my hands down and he got into a great rhythm. From there on, I knew he was comfortable and in a position to win."
Parismony was overtaken late for second by Moretti and Just Whistle filled out the superfecta. Tacitus, who completed the trip in 1:59.51, paid $4.20 as the even-money favorite for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott.
Tacitus last reached the winner's circle after last year's Wood Memorial on April 6. That effort propelled him on to the classics, where he would finish fourth in the Kentucky Derby and second as the favorite to Sir Winston in the Belmont Stakes. In the rematch Saturday, Sir Winston never threatened and was off the board.
Following the run at the Triple Crown, Tacitus would continue to be limited to minor awards through his next five starts, all against graded stakes company. Previously this season, Tacitus was fifth in the $20 million Saudi Cup in Riyadh and most recently was fourth in the May 2 Oaklawn Handicap (G2).
Mott said the addition of blinkers on Saturday appeared to make a difference.
"It seems to make him level off a little more and stay in the bridle a little more," Mott said.
"We've put a lot into this horse. We took him to some big races and he's run some good races. We took him half way around the world earlier this year looking for something like that [winning effort]," Mott added.
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Pioneerof the Nile
I. Ortiz, Jr.
Friend Or Foe