09/05/2013 3:35PM

Churchill Downs: Taptowne's stock rising entering Ack Ack

Coady Photography
Taptowne won the West Virginia Governor's Stakes in his most recent start last month.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – In the spring of 2011, a race pitting Pants On Fire and Taptowne would have resulted in a blowout victory for Pants On Fire.

Pants On Fire was the Louisiana Derby winner that spring, and finished ninth behind winner Animal Kingdom in the Kentucky Derby. Taptowne, meanwhile, was still eligible for a first-level allowance race on Derby Day of that year, and had been whipped early in the Spiral and Lexington stakes.

Saturday when the duo meet in the Grade 3, $100,000 Ack Ack, the last of four stakes on a stellar 11-race evening card at Churchill Downs, it is a mismatch no longer.

In fact, Taptowne, a 5-year-old son of Tapit, may now hold a slight edge. Since joining the barn of trainer Tim Glyshaw this spring, he has recorded 2 wins, 3 seconds, a third, and a fourth in 7 starts. Along the way, he has earned $340,300 of his $511,183 bankroll for Clovertime Farm.

In addition to his most-recent race, in which he won the $200,000 West Virginia Governors Stakes, he has twice been second in graded stakes this year – to Cyber Secret in the Oaklawn Handicap and to Prayer for Relief in the Cornhusker.

In a speed-laden Ack Ack, contested at a one-turn mile, Glyshaw expects Taptowne to be rated off the early pace under Calvin Borel, perhaps two to three lengths behind, though he is a horse just as comfortable racing on the lead.

Glyshaw also raved about a prerace five-furlong bullet work Aug. 29 in which Taptowne went five furlongs in 59.60 seconds.

“He’s pointing in the right direction,” Glyshaw said. “Hopefully he can get it done Saturday.”

Pants On Fire, the lone millionaire among the eight Ack Ack entrants, still figures prominently, though in contrast to Taptowne, his peak may have come two years ago at 3.

He has 2 wins this year from 5 starts, although his last-out victory in the Grade 2 Monmouth Cup should come with an asterisk in the past-performance running line. In that race, Pants On Fire inherited the lead on the second turn when heavily favored Take Charge Indy was pulled up due to injury.

Paco Lopez rides for trainer Kelly Breen and owners George and Lori Hall.

The Ack Ack is completed by black-type stakes winners Brethren, Good Morning Diva, Right to Vote, Looking Cool, Sabercat, and the improving Moe Man, who won a $35,000 non-black-type stakes at Canterbury on Aug. 16.