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Winner: TAPIT TRICE (Sire: Tapit, Dam: Danzatrice)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: Luis Saez
Owner: Whisper Hill and Gainsway
Distance: 1 1/8 miles (Fast Track) Time: 1:50
Margin: Neck

Wizard’s Track Bias: None
Wizard’s Pace Analysis: Honest
Wizard’s Strength of Race: 3 / 5|z
Wizard’s Reflection:

TAPIT TRICE won the Grade 1 Bluegrass fair and square as the 6-5 favorite. He was aggressively ridden out of the gate by Luis Saez as he’s proven to be a lethargic breaker. In tight quarters and intimidated a bit by the fence into the first turn but quickly recovered. He was eased outside clear of trouble entering the backstretch. This is his preferred trip-racing outside of horses and in the clear. Saez always had his eyes set squarely on Tyler Gaffalione, who was stalking an 86-1 pacesetter in second, aboard the second choice VERIFYING. He easily took command approaching the stretch with Saez wasting no time asking his mount to go after the new leader. These 2 favorites battled ‘tooth and nail’ through the stretch, bumping each other in the ‘shadow of the wire’. A steward’s inquiry was quickly posted, but it was clear both horses had been involved in the late punching match which in no way helped determine the final outcome. The steward’s agreed and Tapit Trice was declared this year’s Bluegrass winner.

Tapit Trice was the better horse on this day because he did have the tougher trip. He’s certainly going to be one of the contenders in the Kentucky Derby. The pedigree is there to handle 1 ¼ miles successfully and will head into Louisville on a 4-race win streak. Nothing should be taken away from Verifying’s performance. Trainer Brad Cox could bypass the Derby and await the Preakness or a shorter race which I feel he’s better suited for. His 2 wins have come at 6f and 1-mile.

BLAZING SEVENS improved a ton with blinkers on, but he was a well beaten 3rd. Both he and 4th place finisher SUN THUNDER are not Derby material, but each can win stakes races against softer. Watch for Blazing Sevens in a spot turning back to 7f or a 1-turn mile. 

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Last updated: February, 2024

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