Second Chance Brings Valuable Opportunity to Owners of Tax

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The winner’s circle celebration after Tax won the Grade 3 Withers Stakes in February at Aqueduct. (Adam Coglianese/NYRA)

Everybody wants to avoid a tax, and that even carries over to some of the owners of the equine Tax, who will compete in the June 8 Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets at Belmont Park.

After having initially turned down an opportunity to buy into the gelding, frequent partners Dean Reeves and Randy Hill changed course and are now happy to be associated with this particular Tax.

The son of Arch out of Toll, by Giant’s Causeway, was bred by Claiborne Farm (which stood Arch) and Adele Dilschneider, and that team initially campaigned Tax with trainer Ben Colebrook, who ran him in a $30,000 maiden claiming race at Churchill Downs in late September 2018. Although Tax lugged in during the stretch run, he finished a close-up second in that 6 1/2-furlong race.

Withers Stakes winner Tax. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Colebrook stretched him out to 1 1/16 miles at Keeneland a month later in a $50,000 maiden claimer, which Tax won by two lengths. However, owner Hugh Lynch claimed him out of that race and Danny Gargan took over the training duty.

Randy Hill, a successful Wall Street financier, had been in racing nearly two decades when Gargan approached him in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. in 2017 asking if he wanted 50% of a filly Gargan had claimed for $16,000 that spring.

Hill, who raced exclusively with trainer George Weaver at the time, researched the filly and liked her figures, so he ponied up $135,000 for half of Divine Miss Grey.

Since then, Divine Miss Grey has won the Grade 2 Chilukki Stakes and five additional stakes and made nearly $900,000 for Hill and Lucas Stritsman’s Corms Racing Stable. Several of those stakes wins came before Gargan called Hill asking if he wanted a piece of Tax.

“We’d won with Divine Miss Grey and with some claimers,” Hill said of his association with Gargan. “But I had too many horses when he approached me about Tax, and when you’re not winning and the stock market isn’t going particularly well, you don’t feel like buying more. Then Tax ran third in the Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack last December, so I called Danny back and asked if he and his guys still wanted to sell. And eventually I went in and bought half, and Dean took half of my half.”

Reeves, famous for campaigning 2013 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Mucho Macho Man, was game to get involved.

“Through Randy, I had met Lucas and Danny because we were at the Breeders’ Cup together last year at Churchill Downs and Miss Divine Grey won the Chilukki [on the Friday Breeders’ Cup undercard],” Reeves said. “Randy had asked me if I wanted in on Divine Miss Grey when he bought her, and unfortunately I chose not to. So in late November or early December I agreed to buy into Tax.”

Tax began his sophomore season with a game victory in Aqueduct’s Grade 3 Withers Stakes after stumbling at the start, then returned to run a very good second behind Tacitus in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets. In the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve, he drew the 2 post and was stuck down inside on the deep, muddy track the entire race, running mid-pack before finishing 15th (placed 14th).

“It was just a tough day there,” noted Reeves. “He caught a lot of mud and was running on the deepest part of the track. But he came through the race fine and has worked well since. He’s been at Belmont Park since coming out of the Derby and we’re ready to go.

“We think the [1 ½-mile] distance may help him. We can go out and get into a cruising speed and gallop around. Until the Derby, he’s shown enough speed to be in a tracking position, so hopefully we get into the mix early and have a better trip than we did in the Derby. He’s fit enough and has enough speed to maintain position, and the smaller field will help us.”

And hopefully the returns from this Tax will be characterized by a major refund.

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