With unbeaten McCraken missing the 1 1/16 mile-test due to a slight ankle strain discovered last week, many figured the door was open for Tapwrit to take his runner-up finish behind the former in the Feb. 11 Sam F. Davis Stakes over the same track and distance and do himself one better Saturday.
Despite incurring some traffic trouble around the first turn, the son of Tapit became the latest sophomore to make a play for a starring role in the ever-evolving 3-year-old male picture when he drew clear by 4 ½ lengths over pacesetter State of Honor in stakes-record fashion. He earned 50 qualifying points for the May 6 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands, and now sits second on the leaderboard with 54.
After racing wide early and being caught in close quarters around the first turn, Tapwrit settled eighth, then seventh well off the leaders while State of Honor owned a one-length advantage over Sonic Mule through an opening half-mile in :46.65. Leaving the half-mile marker, Tapwrit and jockey Jose Ortiz began deftly threading the needle between rivals, moving to the three-path and looking completely full of run coming off the final turn.
Tapwrit flew by State of Honor with casual ease and had no challengers to threaten him as he took aim at the teletimer in the lane, hitting the wire in a stakes-record clocking of 1:42.36 over a track rated fast.
State of Honor and Wild Shot, the third and fourth-place finishers in the Sam F. Davis, further validated the form of that race by holding for second and third, respectively, in the Tampa Bay Derby. No Dozing was fourth, with Beasley rounding out the top five.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Tapwrit was purchased for $1.2 million by his ownership group of Bridlewood Farm, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Robert LaPenta at the 2015 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select yearling sale.
In his debut, he finished last in a 10-horse field at Saratoga Race Course last September. He has done little wrong since, breaking his maiden next time out at Gulfstream Park West last Nov. 6 and then taking the Pulpit Stakes to close out his juvenile campaign.
Bred by My Meadowview, Tapwrit improved his record to three wins from five starts and $313,902. He is out of the Grade 1-winning Successful Appeal mare Appealing Zophie.