11/25/2014 12:51PM

Jerardi: Tastefully Simple a model of consistency


“She runs the same race every time.”

If you are a horse trainer, there is nothing more comforting. You know where your horse belongs. You know the kinds of races your horse can win, and just as importantly, you know the kinds of races your horse can’t win.

The quote above was what Steve Mick said Sunday about Tastefully Simple, the filly he claimed a year ago for $7,500 at Penn National. All the 4-year-old Pennsylvania-bred has done in 2014 is run 15 times, with seven wins, two seconds, three thirds, and earnings of $127,406.

Tastefully Simple won a race for non-winners of two lifetime for $5,000 in January. She won another for non-winners of three lifetime for $7,500 in May. She won a first-level statebred allowance in June. She won two starter handicaps in July and August. She won an open first-level allowance in early October and a second-level optional claimer last Thursday.

Her last four Beyer Speed Figures? 71, 72, 73, and 71.

The last six of Tastefully Simple’s wins have been around two turns. She is a stone closer.

“She runs her race, and if it’s good enough to get there, she gets there,” Mick said.

The record is proof of that.

David Cora picked up the mount in late May and has ridden the filly in her last six wins.

“Cora just does a fantastic job,” Mick said. “I think it’s a big jockey/horse thing, too. They have confidence in each other. I think he’s a big part of it.”

Mick once had a horse win 11 straight races, so he is no stranger to consistent horses. One of his old horses won 30 times in 60 starts. But there is no question that this filly has a special place in the trainer’s heart.

“I’ve been fortunate to have never any great horses but some good horses,” Mick said. “To me, she’s in my top five.”

He had no particular plan when he put in the claim and certainly never imagined what has gone down.

“You can never predict this,” Mick said. “It’s just one of those things that happens.”

The trainer certainly helped. He is winning 27 percent of his starts this year.

Tastefully Simple does not work between races. She usually gets two or three weeks between them and just stays fit through her gallops. She does her working in her races.

“She keeps herself fit with the gallops,” Mick said. “We don’t overtrain her, but we train her steady. She puts a lot into her gallops. Like after the race, she is real hard to pull up. Cora lets her go as far as the half-mile pole. She just keeps galloping out after the race until she’s ready to say she’s had enough, and then he takes his time bringing her back. He’s real patient with her post-race, too.”

Tastefully Simple likely will be seen in the entries in starter races, many of which she still qualifies for since she won that $5,000 claimer back in January.

“They don’t write a three-other-than here, and I think these owners wouldn’t be very happy if I put her in for $25,000 right now,” Mick said. “Hopefully, we can get starters here at Penn, but if we have to go to Maryland or Parx, we’ll have to do that.”

Interestingly, even after all those wins, Tastefully Simple went to the post in her last race at 6-1.

“That was hard to believe,” said Mick, who noted that there were a few horses in there who had beaten her recently.

The true believers were rewarded with a $15.40 win price.

Tastefully Simple likely will race for the final time this year just before Christmas. And nobody should be surprised if she finishes the year winning a nice, even 50 percent of her 2014 starts.

“Right now, she’s happy with what she’s doing,” Mick said. “No layoff is in sight. When they’re happy, they’re happy. You lay some of these claimers off, and they don’t come back the same. If they’re good and healthy and happy, just keep running. Just take your time, and don’t change anything.”

So, when Tastefully Simple turns 5 as the calendar turns to 2015, she will keep right on running and more than likely keep right on winning.