05/30/2016 5:43PM

Tapitation goes from last to first in Kingston Stakes

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Chelsea Durand/NYRA photo
Tapitation, with Joel Rosario aboard, wins the Kingston Stakes by 1 3/4 lengths Monday.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Tapitation spoiled the reunion of New York’s version of the Sunshine Boys on Monday at Belmont Park by rallying from last under Joel Rosario to win the $125,000 Kingston Stakes at Belmont Park.

Tapitation, a 5-year-old gelding by Tapit, not only won his first stakes but also gave owner Mandy Pope, who races under the name Whisper Hill Farm, her first stakes victory in New York.

Tapitation, who powered home down the center of the Belmont inner turf, rated “yielding,” won by 1 3/4 lengths. Behind him was the 7-year-old King Kreesa, the 2013 Kingston winner, who got second by a nose over the 7-year-old Kharafa, the 2014 Kingston winner. It was 2 1/2 lengths back to Lubash, a 9-year-old who won last year’s Kingston, in fourth.

“We showed the big boys that the little boy could come through and do it,” Pope said.

Tapitation, trained by Ralph Nicks, has won four of five starts since returning to the races last September following a 14-month layoff. Pope said Tapitation had many issues that prompted the layoff following a lackluster effort in July 2014 at Saratoga.

“He was a bit of a stall walker, studdish, he wouldn’t settle in the stall,” Pope said. “When we took him home, he was muscle sore a little, and the stall-walking attitude didn’t help. We gave him time off, gelded him; when we started him back, it solved the stall-walking issue.”

In the Kingston, Tapitation was last of nine early as Macagone ran off under Manny Franco and set fractions of 22.60 seconds for the quarter and 45.35 for the half, with King Kreesa and Iron Power stalking in second and third.

King Kreesa, under Jose Ortiz, took the lead in upper stretch and was then confronted by Kharafa. While those two ding-donged down the lane, Tapitation, guided five to six wide turning for home by Rosario, ran by them to the victory.

Tapitation covered the mile in 1:35.62 and returned $9.90 as the co-third choice.

“I was happy because it looked like the pace was very fast in front of me,” Rosario said. “I just took my time, and he was ready to go, and he did it on his own.”

King Kreesa, passed by Kharafa, battled back and got a nose decision on the wire.

“I beat the old-timers,” said David Donk, the trainer of King Kreesa. “That’s the problem: They can’t stay there forever. But he ran big, I thought. Pretty solid time; it’s obviously not yielding.”

“There’s a new kid in town,” said Tim Hills, the trainer of Kharafa, referring to Tapitation. “Luis [Saez] said this turf was a little bit slick for him around the turn, but he said he thought he had a winner turning for home.”