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Tappin Cat Front-Running Winner of Pimlico Friday Feature
Stakes-Placed Gelding Hands Thundershook First Loss in Four Starts
LAUREL, MD – Non Stop Stable’s multiple stakes-placed Tappin Cat got away with soft early fractions and sprinted away from favored Thundershook, riding a three-race win streak, and 2020 Concern winner Air Token late to capture the Friday feature at historic Pimlico Race Course.
Ridden by Angel Cruz for trainer Gary Capuano, Tappin Cat ($7.80) ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.83 over a fast main track for a front-running five-length triumph in the third level optional claiming allowance for 3-year-olds and up.
It was the sixth career win and first since last August for Tappin Cat, a gelded 5-year-old son of Tritap bred in Maryland by Paul Fowler Jr. He has placed in 18 of 25 lifetime starts, with nine seconds, three thirds and more than $251,000 in purse earnings.
“Finally,” Capuano said. “He’s been running good, and it finally turned out nice. He got a good trip and dictated the pace nice, and it worked out good.”
Second in the Star de Naskra and third in the Maryland Million Classic in 2019, Tappin Cat broke from the rail following the scratch of Workin On a Dream and immediately took the lead, cruising through a quarter-mile in 24.96 seconds and a half in 49.07 while Thundershook, trained by Jamie Ness, tracked in the clear in second with Tybalt and Air Token alternating for third.
Thundershook was in a drive midway around the turn as Tappin Cat continued to lead and Air Token launched his bid on the far outside. Cruz set Tappin Cat down for a drive once straightened for home and extended their advantage through the lane. Air Token stayed up for second, a half-length ahead of Thundershook, with Tybalt in fourth.
“I figured Ness’s horse had speed and he was outside, so I didn’t figure he was going to let me go. They let me kind of get the first quarter, first half fairly comfortable and from there it made it a little easier,” Capuano said. “I thought he was going to be able to press me a little earlier than he tried to, and he just couldn’t get to me. Then the other horse was making a run, but we had a little left in the tank.”
Capuano was particularly impressed with how Tappin Cat was able to create some separation from the field in deep stretch. He had been winless with two seconds in three previous tries at the distance.
“Going two turns, he has a tendency to hang the last sixteenth,” he said. “He runs well and runs good numbers, but there always seems to be somebody in there I can’t beat.”
Notes: Jockey Feargal Lynch and trainer Jane Cibelli teamed up for a pair of winners Friday, Hushed Hijinks ($4.80) in Race 5 and Lightning Rod ($7.20) in Race 7 … Claudio Gonzalez brought his meet-leading total to 40 wins thanks to Pitching Ari ($5.20) in Race 6 and Fool Yourself ($5) in Race 9 … Sky Racing and Stephen Glassner’s Backstreet Gal ($59.80) came flying late on the far outside to catch 1-9 favorite Frosteria and spring a 25-1 upset in Race 4, a six-furlong maiden special weight for fillies and mares age 3, 4 and 5. It was the fifth straight runner-up finish for Godolphin homebred Frosteria, racing first time for trainer Mike Stidham in her first race since the Jan. 3 Santa Ynez (G2) at Santa Anita … Tickets with five of six winners each returned $122.32 in Friday’s 20-cent Rainbow 6. There will be a carryover jackpot of $2,328.16 for Saturday’s nine-race card that begins at 12:40 p.m.