01/14/2012 8:54PM

Santa Anita: Tapizar controls pace en route to San Fernando win

Shigeki Kikkawa
Tapizar, ridden by Corey Nakatani, sets comfortable fractions en route to winning the Grade 2 San Fernando.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Tapizar was allowed to set his own pace in Saturday’s $150,000 San Fernando Stakes at Santa Anita, a tactic that essentially dictated the outcome long before the field reached the wire.

Without a rival within 1 1/2 lengths at any point, Tapizar led throughout the Grade 2 San Fernando over 1 1/16 miles and proved impossible to catch. He pulled away in the final furlong to win by 3 1/2 lengths. Ridden by Corey Nakatani, Tapizar ($4.20) was timed in 1:41.94.

“I thought he looked good today,” said winning trainer Steve Asmussen. “He looked comfortable running. It was an ideal first race of the year.”

Tapizar broke from the outside in the field of seven, and set an early pace of 23 and 46.45 seconds, leading by as many as two lengths on the backstretch. Riveting Reason, a 21-1 outsider, was within 1 1/2 lengths of Tapizar on the turn, but faded through the stretch.

Tapizar led by two lengths in the stretch. Balladry, a 15-1 shot making his stakes debut, closed from last to finish second, a nose in front of Prayer for Relief, a three-time stakes winner in 2011. Riveting Reason finished fourth, followed by Spud Spivens, Irish Art, and First Strike.

The San Fernando was Tapizar’s second stakes win. He won the Grade 3 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita in January 2011. The colt was later sidelined by bone chips in a knee that resulted in an eight-month layoff last year.

The San Fernando was Tapizar’s first start since a fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Churchill Downs in November.  Owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds, Tapizar, a colt by Tapit, has won 4 of 9 starts and $263,032.