It certainly wasn’t the most smoothly run race ever, and the stewards required a lengthy inquiry to figure out exactly what happened going into the first turn, but the regally bred Tacitus emerged from the Wood Memorial scrum with the victory to give his high-profile owner and trainer a legitimate chance to take home a first GI Kentucky Derby.
Fourth on debut in a fairly salty maiden affair going 1 1/16 miles at Belmont Oct. 4, the grey broke through going a mile here over good ground Nov. 10. He resurfaced to belie nearly 9-1 odds in the GII Tampa Bay Derby Mar. 9, and was looking to follow in his dam’s hoofsteps with a win on the Big A’s big day–Close Hatches annexed the 2013 GII Gazelle S. by open lengths.
Tacitus was nearly knocked sideways soon after the start after longshot Joevia (Shanghai Bobby) cut across the field on the way to the lead and caused a chain reaction. He had to bowl his way out of a tough spit entering the first turn, but settled in from there to stalk in fourth in a strung-out field. Called on to quicken heading for home behind six panels in 1:11.64, the grey shadowed Tax into the lane and pounced on him in midstretch. Tacitus seemed to come in some on that foe once he had the race won, and Tax had to tap on the brakes but it didn’t seem to alter the order of finish.
After many views of the incident going into the first turn, Joevia was placed last by the stewards.
“I thought it was a very good effort,” said Hall of Famer Bill Mott, who had never before won the Wood. “It was very rough on the first turn, but fortunately he came out of it in good order. When he got down the backside, I thought he had a nice, clear run by himself. He kind of got his feet back under him and regrouped a little bit. When it was time to run he started to wear them down.”
Mott said Tacitus would likely spend another week in New York before heading down to Louisville to prepare for the Derby.
“He does take after his dam [Close Hatches],” Mott noted. “She was ready from the word ‘go’. She was one that was very aggressive and very fast. He’s a little different type of horse. She was good up to a mile, a mile and an eighth. This horse, with the Tapit genes, seems like he’s willing to go on, but he also seems to have enough speed to get him up and involved early in a race. He’s certainly not a speed horse, but he has tactical speed and we know he’s got talent and we know he’s willing to overcome a little adversity.”
While at one point speedy ‘TDN Rising Star’ Hidden Scroll (Hard Spun) seemed like the best hope for Mott and Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte to get their first Derbies, Tacitus will be their sole hope come the first Saturday in May after his stablemate settle for sixth in last Saturday’s GI Xpressbet Florida Derby.
“We’ve been there [to the Kentucky Derby] five times now and came out of them all with our tail between our legs,” said Juddmonte’s Garrett O’Rourke. “We had two good runs, a huge disappointment with Empire Maker (second, 2003), because he was the horse that I felt was the best horse in the field and should have won. But it’s not easy and we know that, so were going to go into it again knowing that it’s not easy… We have a legitimate contender now that’s bred to be a Derby horse and he’s now proving that, hopefully, he is up to that standard.”
WOOD MEMORIAL S. PRESENTED BY NYRA BETS-GII, $750,000, Aqueduct, 4-6, 3yo, 1 1/8m, 1:51.23, ft.
1–TACITUS, 123, c, 3, by Tapit
1st Dam: Close Hatches (Ch. Older Mare & MGISW, $2,707,300), by First Defence
2nd Dam: Rising Tornado, by Storm Cat
3rd Dam: Silver Star (GB), by Zafonic
O/B-Juddmonte Farms Inc (KY); T-William I. Mott; J-Jose L.
Ortiz. $400,000. Lifetime Record: 4-3-0-0, $653,000.
Werk Nick Rating: A+++ *Triple Plus* Click for the
eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Tax, 123, g, 3, Arch–Toll, by Giant’s Causeway. O-R. A. Hill
Stable, Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Hugh Lynch & Corms
Racing Stable; B-Claiborne Farm & Adele B. Dilschneider (KY);
T-Danny Gargan. $140,000.
3–Haikal, 123, c, 3, Daaher–Sablah, by Distorted Humor.
O-Shadwell Stable; B-Shadwell Farm, LLC. (KY); T-Kiaran P.
Margins: 1 1/4, 2 3/4, HF. Odds: 2.60, 5.50, 3.45.
Also Ran: Math Wizard, Not That Brady, Final Jeopardy, Hoffa’s Union, Grumps Little Tots, Outshine, Overdeliver, Joevia.
Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.