Tapiture earned his first career win in the Kentcuky Jockey Club Stakes on Saturday at Churchill Downs. (Photo courtesy of Reed Palmer/Churchill Downs)
The Churchill Downs fall meet closed on Saturday with its “Stars of Tomorrow” card that featured breakthrough wins from Tapiture and Vexed.
Tapiture dazzled with a 4 ¼-length romp in the $175,200 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, a Grade 2 race for 2-year-olds, and Vexed won the $169,050 Golden Rod Stakes for 2-year-old fillies by a length.
The Stars of Tomorrow card is comprised entirely of races for juvenile (2-year-old) racehorses.
The Kentucky Jockey Club lost a bit of its luster with the scratch of morning-line favorite Almost Famous, but Tapiture made the race a memorable one with an explosive winning rally.
Ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr., Tapiture was winless in three starts entering the Kentucky Jockey Club. He raced near the pace set by Laddie Boy, challenged for the lead on the far turn and put away the front-runner in early stretch.
Tapiture opened a commanding lead and powered to a runaway victory, completing the 1 1/16-mile race in 1:43.51. He paid $8.60 for a $2 win bet.
Trained by Steve Asmussen for owner-breeder Ron Winchell, Tapiture finished second in his August debut at Saratoga Race Course before finishing third by a half-length in the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes in September at Churchill.
The chestnut Tapit colt entered the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes off a third-place finish on Oct. 27 at Churchill but proved much the best in his fourth career start.
“We had planned on running him in a maiden race at the beginning of the meet as a prep for this. It didn’t go as planned, but he came out of it good, trained really well and just stayed the course," Asmussen said. "It’s awfully fun to have another nice homebred for the Winchells."
Vexed also turned in a breakthrough performance on Saturday in her fourth race.
Like Blame, Vexed is by Arch. She entered the Golden Rod off a second-place finish on Oct. 27 at Churchill in the Rags to Riches Stakes and shook free in deep stretch Saturday for her first stakes win.
With the Golden Rod victory, Claiborne tied Calumet Farm with its record-equaling 32nd career stakes win at Churchill Downs.
“It’s wonderful to have but we don’t think like ‘Well, we need one more to do this,’ " said Claiborne Farm's Dell Hancock. "Now we might think about if we win the next one we’ll be the leading owner but, you know, you want to win every race you can. It’s a tribute to Seth [Hancock] and my father [A.B. “Bull” Hancock Jr.] to have this.”
Vexed completed the 1 1/16-mile Golden Rod in 1:43.83 under jockey Shaun Bridgmohan and paid $9.20 for a $2 win bet.
A half-sister (same dam [mother], different sire [father]) to graded stakes winner Sign, Vexed is from the family of two-time champion Slew o’ Gold and 1979 Belmont Stakes winner Coastal.
Asmussen and Winchell closed the card with a victory in the nightcap with first-time starter Gold Hawk, who won by 2 ¼ lengths. Gold Hawk is an Empire Maker colt out of 2000 champion 2-year-old filly Caressing.
For Equibase charts, click here.
VEXED WINNING GOLDEN ROD
Photo courtesy of Reed Palmer/Churchill Downs