When it comes to campaigning quality horses, Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse said he follows the "run them when they're good" philosophy of late Hall of Famers Allen Jerkens and Woody Stephens.
Casse will look to live by that philosophy with Tap It to Win, an allowance winner on Thursday at Belmont Park, who is now eyeing the June 20 Belmont Stakes.
Owned by Charlotte Weber's Live Oak Plantation, the sophomore son of Tapit led at every point of call in the 1 1/16-mile first-level allowance event while recording swift fractions and kicked clear of his competition for a five-length victory. He garnered a career-best 97 Beyer Speed Figure for his final time of 1:39.76, just shy of Transparent's track record 1:39.22 from September 2018.
Casse expressed little concern at running the three-time winner off 16 days' rest in the Belmont Stakes, noting that some of his star athletes have notched big scores in the past.
"I've always said, run them when they're good," Casse said. "We won the Breeders' Cup [Filly & Mare Sprint] with Shamrock Rose [off of two weeks' rest] and last year we spun Got Stormy back off of a week's rest to beat colts in a Grade 1 [Fourstardave at Saratoga]. Sixteen days will be enough time.
"I thought that yesterday was a really tough race, but I believed we had a good chance," Casse added. "[Hall of Fame jockey] Johnny [Velazquez] told me that he galloped out really well so that makes me feel good."
Tap It to Win, who has won both of his sophomore starts, was highly regarded by Casse last year. Following a second out maiden win over the Saratoga main track, he recorded two well-beaten 10th-place efforts against stakes company in the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland and the Street Sense at Churchill Downs.
"I thought he was a Breeders' Cup horse last year," Casse said. "When we ran him in the Breeders' Futurity, he got away slow and was very rank. Tyler [Gaffalione] couldn't get him to settle. In the Street Sense, he hit the inside of his sesamoid and had a small sequestrum so we had to go in, get it fixed and have surgery."
Tap It to Win made a successful return to action against his Florida-bred counterparts in a May 9 allowance race going six furlongs at Gulfstream Park, where he beat next-out winner Whiskey Sunrise.
"What was really amazing was that during his time off, he really grew up," Casse said. "He's just a super-moving horse. We breezed at our training center in Ocala and every time we would watch, our mouths would be open when we watch him move. I told Tyler before his race at Gulfstream that he would be riding a different horse than he was on previously."
A homebred, Tap It to Win is out of the three-time stakes winning Medaglia d'Oro broodmare Onepointthreekarats and comes from the same family as Champion Filly Songbird.
Casse will be attempting a second straight Belmont Stakes victory after saddling Tracy Farmer's Sir Winston to an upset victory last year.