Tapiture (outside) closed powerfully to catch Candy Boy (middle) in the final yards of the West Virginia Derby on Saturday at Mountaineer Casino Racetrack and Resort. (Coady Photography)
The chestnut Tapit colt posted his second straight graded stakes win by catching Grade 2 winner Candy Boy in the final strides of the $750,000 West Virginia Derby on Saturday at Mountaineer Casino Racetrack and Resort.
Jockey Rosie Napravnik angled Tapiture to the outside near the top of the stretch and he closed determinedly to first collar pacesetter Vicar's In Trouble and then nail Candy Boy by a nose at the finish line in a thriller.
A Grade 2 stakes winner at two, Tapiture opened the year with an impressive victory in the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes that stamped him a 3-year-old to watch on the Derby trail. After a second in the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes and a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby, Tapiture encountered trouble early and often in the Kentucky Derby and finished a nonthreatening 15th in the 19-horse field.
Tapiture regained his winning form by taking the Matt Winn Stakes by two lengths on June 14, and he looked like he was back at his very best in the final furlong of the West Virginia Derby when he gobbled up real estate with ground-devouring strides to reel in Candy Boy.
TAPITURE NAILED CANDY BOY AT THE FINISH LINE
Sent off as the second betting choice at 9-to-5 odds in the Grade 2 West Virginia Derby, Tapiture completed 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.66 to improve to four wins, two seconds and two thirds in 10 lifetime starts. He is trained by Steve Asmussen.
Tapiture also inched past the million-dollar plateau in career earnings. The $456,750 winner’s share boosted Tapiture’s bankroll to $1,014,060.
Owned and bred by the Winchell family’s Winchell Thoroughbreds, Tapiture is one of many Winchell homebreds sired by their star stallion Tapit, who won the 2004 Wood Memorial Stakes for the Winchells and has gone on to become arguably the most influential sire currently standing in the United States.
Winchell Thoroughbreds also owns and bred elite 3-year-old filly Untapable, a Tapit filly who won the 2014 Kentucky Oaks and finished fifth last week against males in the Haskell Invitational Stakes. She is the front-runner for the Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old filly in 2014.
Tapiture is a full sibling (same sire [father], same dam [mother]) to stakes winners Remit and Retap. His dam is the winning Olympio mare Free Spin.
Candy Boy ran well enough to win in the West Virginia Derby but had to settle for second under Corey Nakatani. He edged past pacesetter Vicar’s in Trouble inside the eighth pole but just could not hold off Tapiture in the final yards. Vicar’s in Trouble finished two lengths back in third in the 8-horse field.
For an Equibase chart, click here.