Updated on 08/06/2014 9:20AM

Tapiture by a nose in West Virginia Derby

Coady Photography
Tapiture (left), with Rosie Napravnik aboard, beats Candy Boy by a nose in the West Virginia Derby on Saturday.

Tapiture ran into traffic problems in upper stretch of the Grade 2 West Virginia Derby but jockey Rosie Napravnik acted decisively to get him into the clear and Tapiture regained his momentum to nail Candy Boy by a nose in the $750,000 race.

The victory was trainer Steve Asmussen’s fifth in the West Virginia Derby since 2005, extending his record number of wins in the race. Asmussen and Napravnik won three races together at Mountaineer on Saturday.

As expected, Vicar’s In Trouble, front-running winner of this spring’s Louisiana Derby, went to the lead, setting a controlled pace of 23.39 and 47.23 seconds while being stalked by For Goodness Sake. Tapiture, who had to steady briefly on the clubhouse turn, and Candy Boy both moved to contending positions early on the backstretch, with Tapiture along the inside and Candy Boy sitting cool on the outside under Corey Nakatani.

Vicar’s In Trouble resisted when challenged by Candy Boy nearing the stretch while Tapiture held his position down along the inside. In the upper stretch, Candy Boy moved to the lead outside Vicar’s In Trouble and looked like he would go on to win. At that point, Napravnik snatched up Tapiture out of tight quarters along the rail and swung him outside the two leaders. Tapiture never stopped fighting and got up in the final stride by a desperate nose.

It was two lengths from Candy Boy to Vicar’s In Trouble in third and another five lengths back to Classic Giacnroll in fourth. For Goodness Sake tired to fifth.

“Vicar's in Trouble was on the lead, and I was worried about Candy Boy getting the jump on me,” Napravnik said. “The two of them had me blocked for a little bit. And, earlier in the race, [Tapiture] lost a shoe. So I would say this race was all about the quality of the horse."

Tapiture completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.66 after a six-furlong split of 1:11.66 and a mile in 1:37.60. The favorite for most of the wagering, Tapiture’s odds rose late and he paid $5.60 as second choice behind Candy Boy, whose odds dipped to 8-5.

The West Virginia Derby is Tapiture’s biggest career win and fourth stakes victory. He won the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs while still a maiden last November, the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park in February, and the Grade 3 Matt Winn at Churchill in June.

Asmussen has determined that Tapiture needs time between starts to perform at his best. Tapiture had six weeks between the Kentucky Derby and the Matt Winn and seven weeks between the Winn and the West Virginia Derby.

“The way he is performing is indicative that he is responding to the added time between races,” Asmussen said via telephone after the race. “The Pennsylvania Derby on September 20 would seem to fit the pattern well.”

This was the second West Virginia Derby win for Tapiture’s owner-breeder Ron Winchell. He and Asmussen teamed up to win the 2007 West Virginia Derby with Zanjero.

“In the stretch I didn't think there was any possibility I could get there,” Winchell said. “I was absolutely holding my breath."

In addition to Tapiture and Zanjero, Asmussen has won the West Virginia Derby with Macho Macho (2012), Soul Warrior (2009), and Real Dandy (2005). Asmussen said his assistant trainer, Darren Fleming, had traveled to Mountaineer and overseen all five West Virginia Derby winners for him.

While disappointed by the results of the photo finish, trainer John Sadler was pleased with Candy Boy’s performance. Candy Boy had shipped to Mountaineer from Southern California earlier in the week.

“I was hoping the photo would turn out the other way around, but my horse ran very well,” Sadler said.

24kCrates More than 1 year ago
Rosie with the cutback inside gave that horse his only chance. After she made that move, it was all up to the horse, and his heart to dig for that win! Amazing job by Rosie, and Tapiture. I had to watch that race 3 times over.
Joey W More than 1 year ago
Those who are doubting her ride, should relook at the track configuration.
Gary Peacock More than 1 year ago
Nice job Rosie
. More than 1 year ago
I confess I was wrong I thought the Vicar horse could hold the lead, maybe the 2 took a little out of him.
Wabstat More than 1 year ago
This race was run exactly the same time as the Whitney @ Saratoga. I concentrated on watching Moreno wire that field, thanks for the replay. Racetracks continue to be unbelievably incompetent.
wally More than 1 year ago
You negative pinheads should give credit To Rosie , That was one helluva ride
Tom Temple More than 1 year ago
You can say that again.
Crystal David More than 1 year ago
I disagree. I like Rosie but I think she made a mistake in trying to come up the rail and then having to pull up at the last second and go around. I think she should have went around to begin with....
Samantha Lobdell More than 1 year ago
She had the sense to abort mission and get out of there when the rail wasn't opening up. I can think of a few more heralded jockeys who seem to have trouble with that (and are rarely called dragged through the mud online for it...)
jon g More than 1 year ago
Dumb post Wally. She got that horse in all kinds of trouble. Tap. was much the best
mike More than 1 year ago
Says the pinhead.
Peter R More than 1 year ago
Nice ride Rosie, you're terrible with a capital T. The horse had that much left in its tank and you nearly lost because you had it pinned on the rail for 3/4 of the race. I think if i was a trainer or owner I'd use just about any other jockey before she would ever ride my horse.
Gregg Thomas More than 1 year ago
And IF the dog hadn't stopped to take a ...., he might have caught the rabbit! I used to own racing thoroughbreds and probably will again. Rosie can ride for me any time.
jon g More than 1 year ago
aaron More than 1 year ago
uh.. She won. I'm sure you ride racehorses for a living too.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
Tapiture has now won 4 graded stakes races. As long as he isn't placed over his head from a talent standpoint, Tapiture has shown to be a game winner. Candy Boy, on the other hand, is known for running 2nd and 3rd in big events. And I think heart was the difference, because Candy had every chance to win in the stretch, while Tapiture had to wait and steer out in the middle of the stretch. Tapiture found a way to win, Candy a way to lose. And John Sadler's road woes continue.
Mark More than 1 year ago
jon g More than 1 year ago
I picked it and played it. Having Rosie aboard was my only concern
Bill Kaup More than 1 year ago
Why would having Rosie aboard be a concern????
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
Because she can't ride....
Mike Reinhardt More than 1 year ago
Hmm, I'll gladly take your money in the future as well. Keep it up!
jon g More than 1 year ago
Look at Bayern
Peter R More than 1 year ago
She would lose on Cigar in a claiming race, just awful she is.
Mike R More than 1 year ago
She got Tapiture to the wire first and that is what counts.
John Cook More than 1 year ago
That's just ignorant. She may not be the greatest jock ever, but Asmussen and the Ramsey's would hire her if she wasn't good. All jocks have their strengths and weaknesses. I personally give her credit for the nice decision making in the WV.
aaron More than 1 year ago
She's been winning for years. She's not awful. She's a champ. Now she's the West Virginia Derby Champ.
Hail No More than 1 year ago
Of course she's been riding at a high level for a while, but she's is not immune to a questionable ride.
Chris Lowe More than 1 year ago
Two other stakes wins and two thirds on the card for her. Awful, eh?