Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Tap Daddy disposed of stalking rival California Night at the top of the stretch and sprinted clear to a 6 ½-length victory in the $100,000 BMW James W. Murphy Saturday at legendary Pimlico Race Course.
The 53rd running of the James Murphy for 3-year-olds was the first of eight stakes, four graded, worth $2.55 million in purses on a 14-race program highlighted by the 143rd renewal of the Preakness Stakes (G1), the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.
Ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr. for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, who were to team up later with Tenfold for the same ownership in the Preakness, Tap Daddy ($5.80) ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.67 over a sloppy and sealed main track. The Murphy was originally carded for one mile on the turf course.
It was the third stakes win of the weekend for Santana and second for Asmussen, the pair also joining forces to win the $100,000 Skipat to kick off Friday’s Black-Eyed Susan Day stakes. Tap Daddy ran third in the Bourbon (G3) last October at Keeneland in a race also rained off the grass.
Tap Daddy set fractions of 23.52 seconds, 47.26 and 1:11.82 pressed by California Night to his outside, with the tandem of Takedown and Threes Over Deuces right behind. Santana gave Tap Daddy his cue around the turn and the two left their rivals behind to give the Scat Daddy colt his first career stakes win.
Threes Over Deuces got up for second, 1 ¼ lengths ahead of Takedown. They were followed by Whirlin Curlin, California Night and Magicalmeister.
First run as the Woodlawn Stakes, the Murphy was renamed in 2010 in honor of the longtime trainer of nearly 1,400 winners who spent much of his career in Maryland and passed away June 13, 2009 at the age of 82. In 1994, Murphy won the Pimlico Distaff (G3) and Miss Preakness (G3) during 1994 Preakness week.
Girls Know Best Smart Winner of $100,000 The Very One
Girls Know Best, claimed for $40,000 last fall, became a stakes winner for the second time Saturday with a popular 1 ¾-length victory in the $100,000 The Very One at legendary Pimlico Race Course.
The 19th running of the five-furlong The Very One for fillies and mares 3 and up was among seven undercard stakes, three graded, on a 14-race program highlighted by the 143rd renewal of the Preakness Stakes (G1), the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.
Co-owned by Brian Chenvert and trainer Eddie Kenneally, who nabbed the 4-year-old filly for a tag out of a Keeneland victory in October, Girls Know Best ($4) skipped over the sloppy, sealed surface in 57 seconds, the fastest time since Ageless set the course record of 55.66 seconds in the 2015 The Very One.
It was the second straight The Very One victory and third overall for Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano, who won with Everything Lovely in 2017 and Gilded Gold in 2006.
Girls Know Best was outrun for the early lead by Victorias Fire, chasing the 30-1 long shot through a quarter-mile in 21.74 seconds. Girls Know Best swept to the lead around the turn and kept going, winning for the fourth time in six starts, including the Ladies Turf Sprint Jan. 27 at Gulfstream Park since being claimed.
Pretty Perfection was second. Anna’s Bandit finished third after getting away slowly and had her four-race win streak, the last two in stakes, snapped.
The $100,000 The Very One and the $150,000 Maryland Sprint (G3) for 3-year-olds and up at six furlongs are part of the renewed Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Championship (MATCH) Series which kicked off on Preakness weekend. MATCH is an assortment of 25 races at tracks in Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania which originally debuted in 1997 and ran for five years.