Tapizar is attempting to become the first winner of the $100,000 Sham to repeat in the $250,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes — one of three Saturday races on the Road to the Roses.
While the Sham is only 11 years old, the Santa Catalina Stakes, renamed in 2007 for the prominent racehorse owner that passed away the previous year, is being staged for the 73rd time.
Tapizar made his stakes debut a winning one, dueling for the lead before putting his head in front after a quarter-mile. The son of Tapit pulled away in the stretch to easily win by 4 ¼ lengths over four rivals.
“His last two races have been impressive,” trainer Steve Asmussen recently said. “He established that the maiden race was not a fluke.”
It wasn’t, as Tapizar broke his maiden at the same distance by 10 ½ lengths in his fourth career start last fall at Churchill Downs.
“He doesn’t need a lot of energy to cover a lot of ground,” Asmussen added. “His speed is what’s impressive.”
Tapizar breezed four furlongs in 49 seconds over Santa Anita’s recently converted main dirt track on Monday for his fifth work this year.
The only expected rival exiting the Sham is third-place finisher Anthony’s Cross, who traveled five furlongs in 59 3/5 on Monday over Hollywood Park’s cushion track.
Other likely starters in the Grade 2 that worked at Santa Anita:
Thirtyfirststreet, winner of December’s California Breeders’ Champion Stakes, traveled five furlongs in 1:00 1/5 on Sunday; Riveting Reason, third in the Norfolk Stakes and Del Mar Futurity last year, covered five furlongs in 1:01 1/5 last Saturday; and Wegner, recent maiden winner, went five furlongs in 1:01 3/5 on Sunday.
Possibles are Norfolk victor Jaycito, who went 59 1/5 for five furlongs at Santa Anita on Monday, and first-level allowance winner Awesome Patriot, who posted a bullet 1:10 4/5 for six furlongs.
About 350 miles north at Golden Gate Fields, promising Comma to the Top makes his sophomore debut in the $200,000 El Camino Real Derby at 1 1/8 miles.
The son of Bwana Charlie, gunning for his fourth consecutive stakes victory, zipped five furlongs in 59 2/5 handily at Hollywood on Sunday, the best of 29 works at the distance.
His main opposition is Positive Response, who recorded his second straight triumph in the California Derby at Golden Gate on Jan. 15. The son of Pomeroy covered five furlongs in 59 4/5 at the track on Saturday.
Across the country at Tampa Bay Downs, the $225,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes at 1 1/16 miles features several stakes winners and the talented, well-bred Brethren.
The undefeated son of Distorted Humor, who broke his maiden at Belmont Park and later, last fall, posted a one-mile allowance victory at Churchill Downs, has been training well at Palm Meadows Training Center. His latest of six works this year on Saturday was 1:01 for five furlongs.
Todd Pletcher trains the half-brother to ’10 Kentucky Derby champ Super Saver. Brethren’s granddad is the famous A. P. Indy.
His opposition includes three-time stakes winner Manicero, who scored his second straight victory at Tampa Bay Downs in the Pasco at seven furlongs on Jan. 15. However, the son of Mass Media has only raced in sprints. He worked a leisurely 50 seconds for a half-mile on Saturday.
Another contender is Monzon, who captured Aqueduct’s Count Fleet at seven furlongs on Jan. 1. The son of ’95 Derby champ Thunder Gulch went four furlongs in 51 seconds at the Classic Mile Training Center in Ocala on Feb. 4.