Updated on 09/17/2011 11:29PM

Tap Day takes Cup by three lengths

Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO
Tap Day may head to the Breeders' Cup Classic after winning the Grade 2, $500,000 Meadowlands Breeders' Cup Stakes in convincing fashion on Friday night.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Tap Day could wind up in the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic following a strong stretch rally that carried him to a convincing victory in Friday night's Grade 2, $500,000 .

"We will certainly take a look at it," said trainer Mark Hennig. "We will look at the numbers and see if it warrants putting him in there. If he fits, and has a shot, it's certainly a big payday."

Tap Day ($9) presented a compelling argument in the richest stakes of the Big M's Thoroughbred meet.

Alumni Hall, the 5-2 favorite, was second, with Purge third. The time was 1:48.89 for the 1 1/8 miles over a fast track on a drizzly night.

Early in his career, Tap Day was highly inconsistent. An eye-opening effort was often followed by an inexplicable disappointment.

Over the course of the summer, the 4-year-old Tap Day has matured into a solid and reliable handicap runner.

After winning the ungraded Frisk Me Now Stakes at Monmouth Park by 9 1/4 lengths, he turned in two solid efforts in New York. He was second in the Grade 1 Suburban Handicap at Belmont and third in the Grade 2 Saratoga Breeders' Cup.

Tap Day, ridden by Eibar Coa, wound up in tight quarters on the first turn of the Meadowlands Cup.

"Going into the first turn, he lost his iron," Hennig said. "He lost position but after that he settled in nicely."

Tap Day ranged into contention with a four-wide move on the final turn and continued well through the lane to win by three lengths.

"Turning for home, I knew I had the leaders," Coa said.

Neil Howard, denied his 1,000th training win, was pleased with Alumni Hall's effort.

"I thought he raced very well," said Howard, who will consult with owner Will Farish before making a Breeders' Cup decision.

Surgery helps Trueamericanspirit

Trueamericanspirit ($23.40) benefited from recent throat surgery to beat odds-on favorite Park Avenue Ball by 1 1/4 lengths in the $55,000 Garden State Handicap for New Jersey-breds at a mile and 70 yards.

Trueamericanspirit ran a rare poor race in the Friendly Lover Handicap at Monmouth. The operation to fix a displaced epiglottis helped the 5-year-old gelding trained by Tim Hills win his third stakes of the season.

Trueamericanspirit, ridden by Rajiv Maragh, was timed in 1:40.79

Park Avenue Ball, sidelined by a virus since running third in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth in early August, raced gamely in the stretch put could not keep up with the winner in the final strides. The pacesetting War's Prospect was third.

Another stakes win for Hennig

Hennig won another stakes when After the Tone ($5.20) held off a strong late run from Taittinger Rose to capture the $60,000 Long Look Stakes for fillies and mares by a neck.

After the Tone, ridden by Jose Velez Jr., took command entering the second turn and turned back a challenge from Becky in Pink. She disposed of that rival and then lasted over Taittinger Rose, the 3-5 favorite trained by Bill Mott.

After the Tone ran the 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.38.

* Spring Rush ($7) won the $50,000 Phoenix Stakes for fillies and mares with the addition of blinkers.

The off-the-turf stakes went from a full field of 12 to only five runners because of the surface switch.

Spring Rush, trained by Mark Shuman for owner Michael Gill, beat Ensenada by 1 1/2 lengths.

Aaron Gryder rode the winner, who was clocked in 56.47 seconds for five furlongs.