01/17/2011 2:35PM

Tapizar staying in California after Sham win

Benoit & Associates
Tapizar, with Garrett Gomez up, wins the Grade 3 Sham Stakes by 4 1/4 lengths at Santa Anita.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Tapizar’s win in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita on Saturday confirmed trainer Steve Asmussen’s belief that the colt will play an important role in the build-up to the Kentucky Derby.

Tapizar won his stakes debut in the Sham, disputing the pace through the first quarter-mile before taking the lead and winning by 4 1/4 lengths in a quick 1:40.38 for 1 1/16 miles. Tapizar earned a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 97 in the Sham, which was preceded by an emphatic win by 10 1/2 lengths against maidens at Churchill Downs on Nov. 27.

“His last two races have been impressive,” Asmussen said Sunday. “He established that the maiden race was not a fluke.

“He doesn’t need a lot of energy to cover a lot of ground. His speed is what’s impressive.”

Saturday’s race has not led to a decision on Tapizar’s next start, though Asmussen said the colt will remain in California. Immediate options include the $250,000 Robert Lewis Stakes over 1 1/8 miles on Feb. 12 or the $250,000 San Felipe Stakes over 1 1/16 miles on March 12. Both races are preps for the $1 million Santa Anita Derby on April 9.

“It depends on how he trains,” Asmussen said.

Tapizar is not Asmussen’s only hope for those races. The trainer said Sunday that Silver Medallion, winner of the Eddie Logan Stakes on turf here Dec. 31, is likely to make his next start on the main track. Silver Medallion has made four of his five starts on turf.

“We’re playing with the idea of running him on the dirt,” Asmussen said.