Through five weeks of the 2010 season, there have been only three 3-year-olds that have posted a Beyer Speed Figure of 100 or more, and only one of those has done it around two turns. Any guesses on who the horse is? Didn't think so.
Admittedly, I had also had some research to find out more about Tempted to Tapit, a gelded son of Tapit, out of the Editor's Note mare Tempting Note. Tempted to Tapit earned his 100 Beyer on Jan. 18 in the mud at Aqueduct in his 3-year-old debut, going one mile in 1:37.88 for an 11 1/2-length romp. It was another 10 1/4 lengths back to the third place horse. The gray led every call of the way while posting impressive fractions of :22.95 and :46.78, which were equal to the stakes splits later that day.Watch the Replay
At first glance, the fact that Tempted to Tapit needed four tries to break his maiden is a red flag, but there are a couple of factors that gives him a legitimate excuse. First, trainer Steve Klesaris said he was not yet gelded when he tired to finish fifth in his debut last September at Delaware Park.
"He was completely unmanageable before we gelded him," Klesaris said. "He had zero focus with anything that related to racing. He was climbing on top of any horse he could."
Tempted to Tapit ran well in his next two starts--both at Philadelphia Park--finishing runner-up in both after setting the pace. But he lost focus at the end of both races which cost him, not to mention the fact that he was beaten by a couple of talented 2-year-olds--Schoolyard Dreams, who came back to win an optional claimer for Derek Ryan and is pointed toward stakes races at Tampa Bay, and Laus Deo, winner of the Count Fleet on Jan. 2 at Aqueduct.
"He looked like a winner in those last two races," Klesaris said. "He looked like he couldn't lose either one. But he just hadn't put it all together by then and he faced a couple of pretty good horses."
Perhaps the biggest change in the Jan. 18 romp was the addition of blinkers, which seemed to keep Tempted to Tapit focused on the job at hand.
"It definitely helped," Klesaris said. "He didn't put forth that focus in the two races before and that is what got him beat. He's starting to put it all together."
Since the maiden win, Klesaris has sent Tempted to Tapit down to Gulfstream Park to train. In his first work back, he ripped off five furlongs in 1:00.20, handily. Klesaris will find out just what he has in the next race, which will either be the Risen Star at Fair Grounds or Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream--both on Feb. 20. Another big effort will have the connections dreaming of the Kentucky Derby. Temped to Tapit is owned by Gainesway Stable, who bought him for just $18,000 at a yearling.
"The fact that he did it around two bends, running the fractions that he did, and the 100 Beyer, all of that is exciting," Klesaris said. "Any time you have a young horse win like that you think (of the Derby) in the back of your head. Everybody hopes and dreams about having that kind of horse. But we certainly have a lot of steps ahead of us."
From a pedigree standpoint, Klesaris says "there is no reason to think he shouldn't relish whatever distance we throw at him." Tapit won the 2004 Wood Memorial, Tempting Note won twice around two turns, and Editor's Note won the 1996 Belmont Stakes.
Tempted to Tapit, who is an April 1 foal, will be ridden by David Cohen in all of his future starts, according Klesaris.
** As a reminder, we will begin our fun and popular live chats this Friday, Feb. 12 at noon EST. We will focus on this weekend's key preps, the Sam Davis, Robert Lewis, and Southwest, as well as talk about anything else on your minds. The live chats will be hosted by myself and Tom LaMarra, and will occur most Friday's though the Triple Crown season. Look forward to chatting with everyone.