Starting on the outside, from the 16th post in a 20-horse field, Tapwrit got caught in a traffic jam at the start of last Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.
But the three-year-old grey colt with a Ridgefield connection lived up to his billing as a closer, making a late charge on the wet track to finish sixth in the 143rd Running of the Roses at Churchill Downs in Lexington, Ky.
“The Derby is always a challenge given it’s 20 quality horses running,” said Ridgefield resident Brian Spearman, the chairman at Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, one of three entities with an ownership stake in Tapwrit. “The break was a bit tough for him and the slop in your face is no fun. That said, he ran a strong race …”
Spearman said that Tapwrit will bypass the Preakness and likely compete in the Belmont Stakes (the final leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown) on June 10 at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y.
“We are shipping him to Belmont this week,” said Spearman. “Current plans call for him to skip the Preakness and point for [the] Belmont Stakes in early June. We always let the horse tell us they are ready and wanting to run again. Early indications [are] he came out of the race just fine.”
Trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Jose Ortiz, Tapwrit finished the Derby 10 and one-quarter lengths behind Always Dreaming, the winner in a time of two minutes, 3.59 seconds over the one and one-quarter mile course. Always Dreaming, the favorite at odds of 9-2, is also trained by Pletcher
Purchased for $1.2 million at the Saratoga Yearling Sale by the triumvirate of Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Bridlewood Farms and Robert LaPenta, Tapwrit made his racing debut with a 10th-place finish as a two-year-old last September in Saratoga and then won his final two starts of 2016 in Florida, including a victory at the Pulpit Stakes.
Tapwrit began the 2017 season by placing second at the Sam F. Davis Stakes in Tampa, Fla., and then followed with a convincing win at the Tampa Bay Derby on March 11. Tapwrit finished six-and-a-half lengths ahead of runner-up Wild Shot and set a new race record with a time of 1:42.36.
In his final tune-up for the Derby, Tapwrit was fifth at the Toyota Bluegrass Stakes on April 8 at Keeneland Racecourse in Lexington, Ky.