Note: One of a series of profiles on contenders for the 152nd running of the Belmont Stakes on June 20. Updates will be provided after morning-line odds and post positions are set early next week.
By Lynne Snierson
Charlotte Weber’s homebred ridgling will be wheeling back from a June 4 allowance win on just 16 day’s rest, but newly elected Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse is a longtime proponent of running horses when they’re at the top of their game.
Tap It To Win certainly looked the part in his last effort, drawing off to a five-length win while leading every step of the way under Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez. His final time for the 1 1/16 miles was 1:39.76 on a Belmont track where the record is 1:39.22.
Casse was high early on the Florida-bred son of Tapit, who graduated from the maiden ranks at Saratoga in his second start last summer. The conditioner next stepped him all the way up to the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland Oct. 5 but he disappointed with a 10th place finish, and then was 10th again next out in the Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs.
“I thought he was a Breeders’ Cup horse last year,” said Casse, who won his first Belmont Stakes last year with Sir Winston. “When we ran him in the Breeders’ Futurity, he got away slow and was very rank. (Jockey) Tyler (Gaffalione) couldn’t get him to settle. In the Street Sense, he hit the inside of his sesamoid.”
After surgery to repair the damage, Tap It to Win made it back into the starting gate May 9 at Gulfstream Park and beat a solid field of state-breds going 6 furlongs with Gaffalione aboard.
“What was really amazing was that during his time off, he really grew up,” Casse said. “He’s just a super-moving horse. We breezed at our training center in Ocala, and every time, our mouths would be open when we watched him move. I told Tyler before his race at Gulfstream that he would be riding a different horse than he was on previously.”
Belmont Stakes Probable: Tap It To Win
Trainer: Mark Casse
Owner: Live Oak Plantation
Jockey: John Velazquez
Career record: 6 3-1-0
Career earnings: $124,672
Pedigree: Tapit–Onepointhreekarats, by Medaglia d’Oro
Running style: Frontrunning, or just off the pace
“The ‘Now’ horse for wise guys after five-length romp in near-record time in 1 1/16-mile first-level allowance.’’ — Ed McNamara
“I was impressed with his maiden win at Saratoga and always believed he’d be a good one. Recovered from injury with two strong wins this season, and nearly broke the Belmont track record at 1 1/16 miles last time. Looms as most likely threat to Tiz the Law.” – Noel Michaels
Notes: Tap It To Win will have no problem getting the 1 1/8 miles of the reconfigured Belmont and his pedigree suggests he is crying out for longer … He is a maternal grandson of Medaglia d’Oro, who was a multiple Grade 1 winner in his 3-year-old and 4-year-old campaigns in races at 1¼ miles … In 2002 Medaglia d’Oro was second in the Belmont Stakes, won the Travers Stakes (G1) and took second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), and he was also second in the 2003 Classic. Tap It To Win’s dam was a three-time stakes winner in Delaware and Maryland during her six win career … Casse this year won his 12th Sovereign Award as Canada’s leading trainer and he, Lucien Laurin and Roger Attfield are the only trainers to be elected to both the Canadian and United States halls of fame … Mrs. Weber, who has been a prominent owner and breeder for six decades, has had one other Belmont starter, Brilliant Speed, the third-place finisher in 2011 … Casse has had two starters, both in 2019 — War of Will was ninth behind winning stablemate Sir Winston.