Tempted to Tapit
By Dan Silver | 01/18/2010 03:22 PM ET
The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) has introduced the “New York Watch” series, which will shine the spotlight on promising colts and fillies that have recently cleared the maiden and allowance ranks at Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park, or Saratoga Race Course.
Many of the industry’s brightest stars embarked upon their careers at the NYRA tracks, including a number of recent Triple Crown race winners. Big Brown, Jazil, Birdstone, Funny Cide, and Empire Maker are all among the Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes victors that kick-started their careers at Aqueduct, Belmont Park, or Saratoga.
The list also includes a brilliant triumvirate of fillies that broke their maidens at Aqueduct. Flashing, Little Belle, and Music Note all registered their first victories at the Big A before going on to win major Grade 1 races within the last two years.
On Monday’s special Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday card at Aqueduct, Gainesway Stable’s Tempted to Tapit ran off to an 11½-length maiden victory in the day’s second race, definitively stamping himself as one to watch.
Sold for $18,000 at the 2008 Keeneland September Sale, the gelded 3-year-old son of Tapit is out of Tempting Note by Editor’s Note, winner of the 1996 Belmont Stakes.
Tempted to Tapit made three starts as a juvenile including a pair of second-place finishes in his most recent outings at Philadelphia Park on November 21 and December 11. In the seven-furlong December 11 race, he was collared late by Laus Deo, who led from gate to wire in the $65,000 Count Fleet Stakes in his next start on January 2 at Aqueduct.
“He’s run well in all of his races, but where he appeared to be a winner in the last two he seemed to lose focus and got to loafing around,” said trainer Steve Klesaris, who added blinkers for Monday’s race. “In a race or two I’d like to see if he can learn to come out of the bridle a little bit and harness some of that energy.”
David Cohen, who had helped get the gelding ready for the races at Fair Hill Training Center this summer had the call Monday afternoon and said keeping the horse focused was his first priority.
“It was my first time riding him in the afternoon, but I worked with him before he ever ran, so I knew him very well,” Cohen said. “I just really wanted to get into his mind and let him know that he had to go on and do it regardless of whether we were two lengths or ten lengths in front. He’s going to have to face a lot tougher, but I think he stepped his game up today.”
Klesaris said he had no firm plans for Tempted to Tapit, but planned to nominate him where he is eligible and “see what fits his schedule best.”