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Tappin Josie Looking to Rebound in $100,000 Weather Vane
Among Four Stakes Winners in Six-Furlong Sprint for 3YO Fillies
LAUREL, MD – Darryl Abramowitz’s Tappin Josie, off the board for the first time this year when stepped up to Grade 1 company in her last start, will face three other stakes winners while seeking a return to form in Saturday’s $100,000 Weather Vane at historic Pimlico Race Course.
The fourth running of the six-furlong Weather Vane for 3-year-old fillies is the fifth of six stakes worth $650,000 in purses on an 11-race program, immediately preceding the $200,000 Baltimore-Washington International Turf Cup (G3).
Other scheduled turf stakes are the $100,000 All Along for fillies and mares 3 and older going 1 1/8 miles and $75,000 Ben’s Cat for Maryland-bred/sired 3-year-olds and up sprinting five furlongs. They are joined by two more six-furlong dirt sprints – the $100,000 Lite the Fuse for 3-year-olds and up and $75,000 Shine Again for fillies and mares 3 and up that have not won an open sweepstakes.
First race post time is 12:25 p.m.
Tappin Josie was last seen running sixth in the seven-furlong Test (G1) Aug. 5 at Saratoga, her graded-stakes debut. Prior to that she had run first or second in each of her first six starts this year including the six-furlong Cicada March 18 at Aqueduct, and was beaten a neck when third in the five-furlong Power by Far June 26 at Parx in her Test prep.
“She’s doing really well. She came out of the Test in good order,” trainer Horaco De Paz said. “Obviously that was an ambitious spot. We were just trying to see if we could get lucky and possibly hit the board just to help her value possibly as a broodmare. Nothing lost, we just draw a line through that. It was a very competitive race, so we’re hoping she can come back to her old form. She’s a very competitive filly and she tries every time, so hopefully we can get her back into her routine and see her winning races.”
De Paz claimed Tappin Josie for $50,000 out of a Jan. 20 win sprinting 5 ½ furlongs at Laurel Park, and two starts later she captured the six-furlong Society Hill at Parx. Following the Cicada she raced three times against fellow Pennsylvania-breds, beating elders in an allowance and running second in the New Start at Penn National before facing older horses again in the Power by Far.
“She’s been a very good claim for us. We did give it a shot in the Cicada and she ran second there. She’s a quirky filly to ride. She’s kind of her own worst enemy a little bit. If she kept a straight course, she could probably be much closer,” De Paz said. “She’s been very good. She hasn’t been off the board for us except for the Test, and that was a Grade 1 at Saratoga. It just came up very deep. Sometimes those races can come up with six horses, but it seemed like it was a solid group of fillies that you could make a case for any one of them.”
Jevian Toledo will ride from Post 2 in a field of eight, replacing Kevin Gomez, who has been aboard Tappin Josie for each of her races this year.
“Obviously, Kevin got along great with her but he was committed to some horses in Delaware so he wasn’t able to come to ride. Hopefully Toledo can fit her good and get a good ride out of her,” De Paz said. “She seems like she’s grown and she’s stretching out. Now she doesn’t have to run on the front end like she was running before, she can come off the pace. The three-quarters seems like it’s a logical spot and staying with 3-year-old company is an advantage rather than having to take on older fillies right now.”
Among the rivals for Tappin Josie are Late Frost, Talk to the Judge and Blind Spot, all stakes winners. Runnymore Racing’s Late Frost, bred and owned by Greg and Caroline Bentley, beat Tappin Josie by two lengths in the New Start, also going six furlongs. In her last start, the Frosted filly took a short lead into the stretch before settling for third in the seven-furlong Charles Town Oaks (G3) Aug. 25.
Waldorf Racing Stables’ Talk to the Judge had won two of six starts, including a 3 ¼-length debut triumph last summer at Parx, prior to her front-running head triumph at odds of 13-1 in the seven-furlong Miss Disco for Maryland-bred/sired fillies July 29 at Laurel. Among the field were Malibu Moonshine, Maryland’s champion 2-year-old filly of 2022, and stakes winner Precious Avary.
C2 Racing Stable and Stefania Farms’ Blind Spot returns to the dirt in the Weather Vane after six straight starts on grass and all-weather surfaces. Winner of the Our Dear Peggy over Tapeta at Gulfstream Park last fall, she is winless in four races this year including the six-furlong Star Shoot at Woodbine, where she crossed the wire in front by a neck but was disqualified to second for interference.
“One of the owners wants to give her one more try back on the dirt, and there’s not may chances left to run against straight 3-year-olds,” trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. said. “We thought we’d give her a chance in this spot.”
In her most recent start Blind Spot, by 2013 Whitney (G1) winner Cross Traffic, raced in contention to the top of the stretch before tiring to be sixth in the July 22 Ontario Colleen (G3), contested at a mile on the Woodbine turf. Following that race she rejoined the South Florida-based Joseph’s string at Kentucky Downs and pointed to the 6 ½-furlong Music City (G3) Sept. 2.
“We were going to try to run her in the stake there but she was on the [also-eligible] list and didn’t get in,” Joseph said. “She’s plenty fit. We’re going to see if she’s as good on the dirt. I think her turf races, she’s never won on it but they’ve all been pretty decent. If she can be as good on the dirt, she should run well.”
Tyler Conner has the call from outermost Post 8 on Blind Spot, who had a win and a second in two dirt tries last summer at Gulfstream Park prior to the Our Dear Peggy.
“She did run well in her first two starts on dirt but the form coming out of those races hasn’t turned out to be that strong, so that’s the only concern we’d have,” Joseph said. “This will give us the chance to see where she’s at on the dirt. But she’s bred for it, so we’ll see. We’re looking forward to it.”
Michael Dubb’s Apple Picker is also making a return to the dirt after finishing off the board in back-to-back turf stakes at Laurel Park. The Brittany Russell trainee ran fourth, beaten 1 ½ lengths, in the 5 ½-furlong Stormy Blues June 18, then encountered some traffic trouble racing inside in the 1 1/16-mile Searching Aug. 13 and wound up seventh.
Ms. Bucchero, Fancy Joke and Our Liberty Belle complete the field.
The Weather Vane pays homage to the Maryland-bred mare trained by Richard W. Delp that won 17 races and $724,532 in purses from 1996 to 1998. A former claimer bred by William B. Delp, Weather Vane went on to register 14 stakes victories including the Safely Kept (G3) and Miss Preakness in 1997, the latter before it was graded, and capped her career by being named Maryland-bred champion older female of 1998.