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Versatile Chanteline Takes Aim at $100,000 The Very One
Tap Daddy Looks to Rebound in $100,000 BMW James W. Murphy
BALTIMORE – While the rainy forecast may be a concern to some horsemen, it will make little difference to Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen’s camp with regard to Chanteline in Saturday’s $100,000 The Very One Stakes and Tap Daddy in the $100,000 BMW James W. Murphy Stakes, both on grass as part of a spectacular stakes-filled Preakness Stakes (G1) program at legendary Pimlico Race Course.
Ten Broeck Farm’s 6-year-old mare Chanteline won stakes on dirt and turf in her last three races, taking a division of the Fair Grounds’ Richie Scherer Memorial on turf and Oaklawn Park’s Spring Fever on dirt, both at 5 1/2 furlongs. The appeal of the five-furlong The Very One is its distance, more than the surface, said Scott Blasi, Asmussen’s chief assistant.
“We’ll see if they run on the turf,” he said. “She will run either way. She’s very versatile. I don’t think she really cares what the surface is. I think with the distance, it’s just a good spot for her.”
This year’s The Very One is part of the revived Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championships (MATCH) series, an assortment of 25 races at tracks in Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania which originally debuted in 1997 and ran for five years.
Fair Hill, Md.-based Smiling Causeway, trained by Arnaud Delacour, has four wins and three seconds in seven lifetime starts, including a victory in her last start Dec. 30 in Tampa’s $100,000 Lightning City Stakes.
In a packed 14-horse field with an abundance of speed, among those to catch will be Girls Know Best, a $40,000 claim last fall at Keeneland by trainer and co-owner Eddie Kenneally.
“She’s been a nice claim, no doubt about it,” Kenneally said. “We were looking for a nice, sound horse that could run. The filly had already won five races, so we knew she could run. She’d never run on the grass up to that point. We ran her back on dirt [for $50,000 claiming], and she ran well and won, then we brought her to the grass and she improved. She won a stakes Pegasus Day at Gulfstream, was second in a stakes at Gulfstream and won a wide-open allowance race at Keeneland, all on the grass. She’s only a 4-year-old, so she’s got some upside, for sure.”
The Jason Servis-trained Just Talking is a five-furlong turf specialist who has been in the top three in six of seven starts at that distance, including a front-running romp in a March 25 Gulfstream Park allowance race last time out.
Jessica Krupnick is unbeaten in two starts on dirt at 5 1/2 furlongs, might appreciate shortening up even more and looms as an even bigger threat if the race should be taken off the grass. Her only prior turf start was 1 1/16 miles, resulting in a well-beaten fifth.
One filly who should have no problem if the turf is on the soft side is the 4-year-old Boos, who raced in France before coming to the United States last year. She’s won one of her three races in America as she makes her first start since last Sept. 8.
Others in the stakes include Pretty Perfection, a close fourth in last year’s the The Very One; 11-time winner Victorias Fire; Daylight Ahead, winner of Laurel’s Jameela Stakes for Maryland-breds last year; Conniver Stakes winner Anna’s Bandit, who enters on a four-race win streak; Angel At War, Keep Your Distance, Miss Gossip and Carolina Shag.
Tap Daddy Looks to Rebound in $100,000 BMW James W. Murphy
Tap Daddy, one of nine 3-year-olds entered in the ninth running of Saturday’s $100,000 BMW James W. Murphy Stakes, is well-versed in both yielding turf and racing in the slop if a race comes off the track.
After finishing sixth in his debut on dirt at Saratoga, Tap Daddy captured a $130,000 maiden race at Kentucky Downs over yielding turf. Running back in Keeneland’s Bourbon (G3), which was taken off the turf, he finished third by two noses in the slop but was placed second after being bumped late by runner-up Tigers Rule. After not being selected to run in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1), Tap Daddy followed with a turf allowance victory at Churchill Downs, again over yielding turf.
Tap Daddy did not fare as well in Keeneland’s Transylvania (G3), also run over a yielding course. Tap Daddy wound up fading to 10th in an extremely rough running of the stakes, being bumped and forced to steady. After his promising start, Tap Daddy is winless in three tries this year, being a well-beaten third in Oaklawn’s Smarty Jones on dirt, then fifth but placed fourth in the Fair Grounds’ Black Gold Stakes back on turf before the Transylvania debacle.
“Just kind of one thing after another,” said David Fiske, racing and bloodstock manager for Winchell Thoroughbreds, owner of Tap Daddy as well as Preakness Stakes contender Tenfold. “He hasn’t had a real smooth year. I think he’s back to training pretty well, and we’ll give him another chance.”
Philadelphia invader Black Stetson won Aqueduct’s $100,000 Bridgetown Stakes at six furlongs on turf in his last start as he stretches out past seven-eighths of a mile for the first time. Third by a total of a half-length in the Bridgetown was Murphy contender Coltandmississippi.
Takedown, with two wins and a third at a mile on dirt, makes his turf debut in the Murphy. He was fifth in Laurel’s 1 1/8-mile Federico Tesio Stakes, a ‘Win and You’re In’ event for the Preakness, in his last start.
Graham Motion, who was second in the 2011 Preakness with Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom, brings in Say the Word, who finally put it all together in his sixth start to win a 1 3/16-mile maiden race on turf at Keeneland.
“He’s a horse we thought a lot of last year,” Motion said. “He’s eligible for the Canadian Triple Crown. We gelded him over the winter and gave him a break, and he came back and proved to be the kind of horse we thought he was last year. Last year he just didn’t show it in the afternoon, but I thought his two races this year were pretty strong.”
California Night, an Aqueduct dirt allowance winner before finishing 10th in Keeneland’s Blue Grass (G2) April 7; Whirlin Curlin, a multiple stakes winner on dirt; Magicalmeister and Threes Over Deuces round out the field.