01/08/2013 6:45PM

2012 Eclipse Awards: Tapitsfly

photo by: Tom Keyser

Brilliance in turf miles made Tapitsfly a finalist for the Eclipse Award as outstanding turf female of 2012.

Throughout the year, owner-breeder Frank Jones Jr., of Louisville, Ky., and trainer Dale Romans focused Tapitsfly on races at a mile or 1 1/8 miles on turf. They were rewarded with a three-win campaign over eight starts that included two Grade 1 stakes wins.

A 5-year-old mare in 2012, Tapitsfly raced at five major tracks, exclusively in graded stakes. Along the way, she had the best season of her career and showed dimensions not previously expected.

For much of her 24-race career, Tapitsfly was a danger from the front.

By the time she made her final start at Keeneland in October, she showed the ability to be equally effective from off the pace.

While the overall season was highly successful, Tapitsfly began 2012 with a loss, a third in the Grade 3 Marshua’s River Stakes at Gulfstream Park in the first week of the year. She was beaten only a head, but the race was her seventh consecutive defeat.

The losing streak ended in her next start, the Grade 2 Honey Fox Stakes over a mile on turf at Gulfstream Park in March, her first stakes win since the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita.

Tapitsfly had mixed form in Kentucky in the spring. A third in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley Stakes at Keeneland in April was followed by a second in the Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill Downs on the Kentucky Derby undercard. Five weeks later, she won the biggest race of her career to that point – the Grade 1 Just a Game Stakes at Belmont Park.

“That was a big deal, getting the Grade 1 out of the way,” Romans said during the summer, reflecting on the race.

Tapitsfly could not duplicate that form at Saratoga. She was fourth in the Grade 1 Diana Stakes over 1 1/8 miles on turf after setting the pace and was sixth in a quick running of the Grade 2 Ballston Spa Handicap over 1 1/16 miles on turf behind fellow Eclipse nominee Zagora.

Back in Kentucky in the fall, Tapitsfly started in the Grade 1 First Lady Stakes over a mile on turf at Keeneland on Oct. 6. Under jockey Jose Lezcano, Tapitsfly was fourth for the first six furlongs, swooped to the front with a six-wide move, and prevailed in a stretch duel over Daisy Devine.

“This proves she’s not one-dimensional,” Romans said after the race. “We always knew she had class.”

The win avenged the third-place finish in the Jenny Wiley, which was won by Daily Devine.

Romans and Jones considered Breeders’ Cup races at Santa Anita for Tapitsfly, but opted against it. They thought the Filly & Mare Turf over 1 1/4 miles was too far and decided against a start versus males in the Mile.

Tapitsfly had made her final start. In November, the daughter of Tapit and Flying Marlin was sold for $1.85 million to Katsumi Yoshida of Japan at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall mixed sale.