Ron Winchell’s Tapiture returned to the winner’s circle in Saturday’s $100,000 Ack Ack Handicap (Grade III) at Churchill Downs defeating favorite Viva Majorca who had to settle for second. This was the homebred son of Tapit’s first victory since winning last year’s West Virginia Derby (GII) as a 3-year-old.

“He came out of the race really well,” Asmussen said.

Tapiture’s likely next start is the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (GI) at Keeneland on Friday, Oct 30. He finished second to Goldencents in last year’s Dirt Mile at Santa Anita.

Asmussen won the 2012 Dirt Mile with Tapizar, who, like Tapiture, is a homebred son of Tapit.

“Tapiture is a lot more accomplished at this stage of his career,” Asmussen said. “They are both similar horses in ability; both of them are pretty brave. Tapiture also seemed to be a bit more accomplished as a 3-year-old than Tapizar did.”


A.L. Luedtke’s Geothermal scored the first stakes victory of his career in Saturday’s $175,000 Lukas Classic and will likely target the $200,000 Fayette Stakes (GII) on the Breeders’ Cup undercard on Friday, Oct. 30 at Keeneland.

“We’re going to think about it [the Fayette],” trainer Steve Margolis said. “That would be a good next race for him and I don’t think they [Al and Joanne Luedtke] want to step too high with him, but the race is a good one to think about. It’s a mile-and-an-eighth and the timing is pretty good. The owners are really good with their horses and are pretty conservative so we’ll just see how the horse is, but it’s exciting to have a good horse like him.”

Margolis ran the son of Unbridled Energy in the Michael Schaefer Memorial at Indiana Grand last time out where he was beaten a nose by Ulanbator, who was a well-beaten sixth in the Lukas Classic.

“The reason we freshened him up after the race in Indiana was because there were really no races for him,” Margolis said. “I didn’t want to take him all the way up to Arlington and there wasn’t anything on the east coast. He’s always been a horse that’s trained well, and we had never run him against these kinds of horses. He’s gotten better with age because he’s healthy and it just seems like he’s really come into himself.

“We had him all winter at the Fair Grounds, and he ran well. Earlier in the year, we tried him on the turf and he’ll handle that. He came off a layoff, he ran him in a three-other than on the turf and he came from far back and only got beat six lengths. Then we put him in the two-other-than on the dirt, we were pretty lucky that we didn’t lose him there, but he is 6 (years old). We did run him in a real tough race at Keeneland and he lost to Transparent. After that we tried him on the turf again and I told Mr. Luedtke that he runs way better numbers on the dirt so we put him back on the dirt. It seems to have worked out real well for us.”


Sultan bin Mashal’s Saham scored his first graded stakes victory in Saturday’s $100,000 Jefferson Cup (GIII) for trainer Brendan Walsh. Last time out, the son of Lemon Drop Kid was a troubled but close fourth at Indiana Grand in the Centaur Stakes where he was beaten 1 ½ lengths.

“He looked good (Sunday) morning,” Walsh said. “Everything seems to be in good shape. I think that he was sitting off of a good run. He was coming off a race. I think that he ran reasonably well there, he got stopped at the turn pretty hard and he probably wouldn’t have won but I think he would’ve gotten second. He seemed to be training really well.”

With the Pennsylvania-bred now achieving graded stakes success, Walsh is weighing his options with where to run the horse next.

“The next obvious spot would be the [Grade III, $100,000] Commonwealth Turf,” Walsh said. “Whether we run between now and then is yet to be determined. The [$100,000] Bryan Station at Keeneland [on Friday, Oct.30] would be another logical spot but I’m not so sure he wants a mile-and-an-eighth just yet. But I think he will as he matures. We always thought that he would be a nice horse as time goes on, the Lemon Drop Kids always do. Hopefully he has a good winter. He hasn’t reached his full ability yet. I think we’ll see his best races next year.”

TODAY IS CLOSING DAY OF SEPTEMBER MEET – Churchill Downs’ 11-date September Meet concludes today (Sunday). Racing on the Kentucky circuit shifts to Keeneland for the their Fall Meet that runs Friday (Oct. 2) through Oct. 31 and culminates with the two-day Breeders’ Cup World Championships on Friday, Oct. 30 and Saturday, Oct. 31.

Racing at Churchill Downs will return Sunday, Nov. 1 for the 21-date Fall Meet on a Wednesday through Sunday schedule until Nov. 29.

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