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Hightap Turns Back Heavily Favored Luster to Win Dogwood

| Churchill Downs Communications | 05/30/2009 #

Winchell Thoroughbreds, LLC and Gainesway Thoroughbreds, Ltd.’s Hightap ran down heavily favored Luster in mid-stretch and drew away to an impressive 3 ¼-length win in Saturday’s 35th running of the Grade III $111,500 Dogwood Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Churchill Downs.

            Trained by Steve Asmussen and ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan, Hightap followed Luster around the far turn as the two moved in tandem after Lady’s Laughter, who had assumed command leaving the backstretch.

Luster, the odds-on 9-10 favorite with Brian Hernandez Jr. up, gained a brief advantage but was headed at the eighth pole by Hightap who drew clear to her authoritative score. Perfect for You, ridden by Jon Court, rallied from last in field of nine for third, finishing 2 ½ lengths behind Luster.

Hightap returned mutuels of $14, $4.80 and $4. Luster returned $2.40 and $2.20 with Perfect for You paying $5.40 to show. Completing the field in order were Slides Choice, Lady’s Laughter, Dave’s Revenge, Walloon, Tweeter and Affirmed Truth, who was pulled up on the backside by jockey Calvin Borel.

A Kentucky-bred daughter of Tapit out of the Regal Classic mare Don’tellmichelle, Hightap covered the mile on a fast main track in 1:35.78. The victory, her third in five starts, was worth $66,365 and increased Hightap’s earnings to $126,365.

The Dogwood was one of two graded stakes races on Saturday’s Churchill Downs program and was co-featured with the $100,000-added Aristides.

POST RACE QUOTES – THE DOGWOOD

 SCOTT BLASI, assistant to STEVE ASMUSSEN, trainer of HIGHTAP

“We showed good confidence in her and she breezed an outstanding three-quarters [of a mile] for us here [on May 13 in 1:13]. At that point, we knew we were back on track.”

Q: About the previous start, which resulted in a last-place finish in the Grade III Honeybee at Oaklawn Park . . .

“We expected her to run better than what she did and then we were surprised when she didn’t. Usually when something like that happens something wrong will show up. She had a hind foot bruise.”

Q: What’s next?

“I’m not sure. We’ll talk it over with [trainer] Steve (Asmussen) and the owners.”

SHAUN BRIDGMOHAN, rider on HIGHTAP (winner)

“I had a good trip. It worked out very well. She was able to settle down in behind them. Around the middle of the turn I had a choice, and I saw the favorite in front of me and opted to follow her. When I was ready to move, we went ahead and she finished up really, really strong. She looked good.”

AL STALL JR., trainer of LUSTER (runner-up)

“I thought she ran her race – she just didn’t seem to stay.  Unless there’s some excuse we don’t know anything about, she looks like she might be a seven-eighths-or-less type of horse.  You wouldn’t think that looking at her pedigree, and you’d like to hope against hope that she could stretch out.  But we just got a little dose of reality as far as her distance limitations.

            “I thought Brian (Hernandez Jr.) did a perfect job off that hot pace.  She was stirrup-to-stirrup with the winner basically the whole way and just didn’t quite stay.”

BRIAN HERNANDEZ JR., rider on LUSTER (runner-up)

“We had a perfect trip and turning for home I thought I had so much horse that nothing would run by us, but evidently we got beat by a really nice filly today.

            “She seemed like she really ran her race.  Al (Stall) had her to where she was settled today and she settled in hand for me.  Like I said, turning for home I thought we were a winner.  We just got outrun.”

JON COURT, rider of PERFECT FOR YOU (third)

“She stumbled leaving there, but she regained her feet pretty good.  She just stalked the field and we saved a little ground, then we came out when we straightened for home and got up for third.

“I had planned on being a little closer, but the start eliminated that.”