Tapa Tapa Tapa springs the upset in Suncoast Stakes under Jesus Castanon (courtesy SV Photography)
Before the 37th edition of the $100,000 Suncoast Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, all eyes were on 3-10 favorite Elate from the barn of Hall of Fame trainer William Mott.
That was just the way the connections of Tapa Tapa Tapa liked it.
Racing on dirt for the first time in her six-start career, the daughter of Tapit-Kickin’ the Clouds, by Dixieland Band, assumed the lead shortly after the break under jockey Jesus Castanon and continued with good energy throughout, posting a three-length victory from Elate.
Tapa Tapa Tapa, bred in Kentucky by Patricia Pavlish and owned by her Beau Ravine outfit, paid $21.40 to win. Her time of 1:39.91 for the mile-and-40-yards was .55 seconds off the stakes record.
Tapa Tapa Tapa is trained by Timothy Hamm.
“We knew what Mr. Mott had coming in, but the result didn’t shock us,” said Hamm, who had been training Tapa Tapa Tapa on the Oldsmar dirt surface for this start, her first since the Grade III JP Morgan Chase Jessamine on the turf at Keeneland in October. “We are pleasantly happy. She’s a good horse, and she has trained awesome on the dirt since we started here.”
Castanon said he had few concerns as Tapa Tapa Tapa continued on willingly after Elate and jockey Jose Ortiz launched their bid.
“She was making it easy,” Castanon said. “She was a little fussy in the beginning, but she was able to settle down on the backside and once we got to the top of the stretch, I let her pick it up and she went on. She wasn’t really getting tired and I knew she would be tough to beat.”
Tapa Tapa Tapa improved to 3-for-6. R Angel Katelyn finished third. Hamm said the Kentucky Oaks is a possibility for Tapa Tapa Tapa if she continues to progress.
Mott was pleased with Elate’s effort in her second lifetime start and first since a powerhouse maiden triumph at Aqueduct in November. “I think she’ll get some benefit out of this race,” Mott said. “We got a two-turn race into her today on a tiring track, and I think we have a lot to look forward to.
“This isn’t the end of the season. I ran Royal Delta in this race and she finished ninth, and she won the Breeders’ Cup (Ladies Classic, in 2011).”