11/04/2011 12:03PM

Churchill Downs: Tapitsfly back on turf for Cardinal Handicap

Barbara D. Livingston
Tapitsfly will try to find her way back to the winner's circle when she returns to turf in Sunday's Grade 3 Cardinal Handicap at Churchill Downs.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – By the time they run the Grade 3 Cardinal Handicap at Churchill Downs late Sunday afternoon, another 15 Breeders’ Cup races will be in the books. That will make 33 BC events since Tapitsfly upset the Juvenile Fillies Turf on Nov. 6, 2009, at Santa Anita, rendering the gray filly’s jaunt into the history books something of a distant memory.

Dale Romans, who trains Tapitsfly for owner-breeder Frank Jones Jr., would like nothing more than to celebrate the two-year anniversary of that victory by revisiting the winner’s circle, this time at Churchill, where Tapitsfly is one of seven fillies and mares set to go 1 1/8 miles on the turf in the $100,000 Cardinal.

Tapitsfly has won just once in eight races since her Breeders’ Cup score, although several of those defeats were quite respectable. One that wasn’t: her last-place finish in the Grade 1 Spinster at Keeneland, a race that amounted to a failed experiment with Polytrack.

“Turf is her game,” Romans said. “After watching her at Keeneland, there’s no doubt about it. If you go back to her two races on the grass this summer at Saratoga, she obviously fits in here, especially since there’s not a whole lot of other speed in here except for the bottom horse. The filly’s doing good, and we’re looking for a big race from her Sunday.”

Tapitsfly, clearly on the strength of her BC credentials, is the 117-pound highweight, meaning she will spot her opposition 1 to 3 pounds under the handicap conditions. Robby Albarado is back aboard.

Mutually Benefit, scratched from an off-the-turf race during the last week of the Keeneland meet, is the “bottom” horse in the field after being assigned post 7. Her form suggests she will make or press the lead, with Tapitsfly and Kiss Mine also among the early goers.

From there, things get a little less clear. Ravi’s Song may have the best stretch punch, while Deluxe, a Juddmonte Farms homebred out of Hasili, would do well to revert to her stateside debut in which she was a fast-closing second in a restricted stakes on the Saratoga turf. Hasili is the dam of BC winners Banks Hill and Intercontinental among other standout progeny.

Corey Lanerie has the call on Ravi’s Song, while Julien Leparoux will ride Deluxe.

This is the 38th running of the Cardinal, which is carded as the 10th of 11 races on a Sunday program that starts at 12:40 p.m. Eastern. After Sunday, Churchill goes dark for two days before another five-day week commences Wednesday.

Fans looking for lucrative Sunday carryovers in case of longshot winners on the Saturday BC card at Churchill need not get their hopes up: all jackpot wagers (50-cent pick five, $1 super high five, $2 pick six) had mandatory-payout provisions for Saturday.