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If the odds makers are right there could be a three-way dead heat at Saturday's $125,000 Canadian Derby. At Tuesday morning's post draw, odds makers Matt Jukich and Josh Murphy made locally raced Tony's Tapit the 5-2 favourite followed closely by Myopic at 3-1 and Uncharacteristic at 7-2.
Tony's Tapit will start from post five; Myopic drew post three and Uncharacteristic gets away from post two. "You could argue that any of those three could have been made the morning-line favourite," said Murphy, Century Mile's assistant racing secretary. "It sure wasn't the easiest line to come up with. In the end we went with the known commodity, Tony's Tapit."
Eleven horses entered the 92nd running of the Derby. Doing everything he's been asked and never missing a dance Tony's Tapit has won nine of his 15 career starts including the last five in a row and the last four at Century Mile. "He's been really doing well. He's as ready to run and as good as he can be," said trainer Jim Brown. "This will be his stiffest test yet in terms of both the competition and the distance."
The Derby will be run at the classic mile and a quarter distance - further than any of the 11 entered horses have ever run. "I would think the distance shouldn't be a major problem," said Brown. "Just the stiffer competition. Myopic, Uncharacteristic, Bodemonster… They'll be tough and there might be one or two others that might excel at the distance."
Bodemonster is fourth in morning-line odds listed at 8-1. "Tony's Tapit has done nothing wrong," said Jukich, Century Mile's racing manager and racing secretary. "He's handled a no-pace race. He's handled getting out of the gate slow. He's encountered traffic. He's raced wide. And he just keeps on winning."
After coming to Alberta from Phoenix where he was purchased by Kirk Sutherland, Tony's Tapit started his Alberta winning-streak in the June 20 Western Canada Handicap. Crowded with no clear running path, jockey Enrique Gonzalez waited and waited for room. When he finally found it, Tony's Tapit won by more than five lengths. Then, in a tough July 11 allowance race, Tony's Tapit got away last and still won by almost seven lengths.
Next up was the Aug. 2 Count Lathum where Tony's Tapit hopped out of the starting gate. Running against slow fractions he ended up four wide but won by a comfortable length and a half over a hard charging Bodemonster. In his most recent appearance he was wide again but still won handily - again over Bodemonster.
While post positions on a mile track going a mile and a quarter aren't usually a factor, Brown was happy with the post he got. "We'll just see how the race unfolds. I expect him to run similar to the way he has been running - letting the speed go and then take one run at them."
Tony's Tapit has never faced either Myopic or Uncharacteristic - both lightly raced horses with two completely different stories. Myopic was purchased for $200,000; Uncharacteristic was claimed for just $8,000 in his career debut by Adam Isfeld and trainer Robert VanOverscot. Uncharacteristic, who also finished second to the undefeated Be Quick in Vancouver, recently won the Manitoba Derby coming from behind by a length and a quarter over Myopic. But trainer Robertino Diodoro has said that wasn't the real Myopic: "I think he's a lot better than what he showed in Manitoba."
Myopic, who will be ridden by leading jockey Rico Walcott, will only be making his fifth career start. "Diodoro/Walcott are always a combination you'll play," said Murphy. Diodoro has crossed the finish line in front four times in the Derby but was disqualified in the 2017 Derby. Walcott has crossed the Derby finish line in front five times.
In addition to winning with Broadway Empire (2013); Edison (2014); the disqualified Chief Know it All (2017) and Sky Promise (2018) - all trained by Diodoro - Walcott also won the 2010 Derby with No Hesitation. "It's going to be a good race," promised Murphy.
STOCK REPORT - From the rail out here are Saturday's post positions: Bodemonster, Uncharacteristic, Myopic, Papichulo, Tony's Tapit, Dougs Pal, Major Shepard, Pay My Way, Smart Play, Buck West and My College Fund. Post time for the first race on Saturday is 2:50 p.m.
The Derby, which will be race 9 on the 10-race program, is expected to run around 7:50 p.m. There are three other stakes races on the program: the Century Mile Handicap, the Northlands Park Distaff and the Century Casino Oaks. Those three stakes all go for $75,000.
The long shot play in the Derby could be Smart Play, who has never been worse than third in any of his five races. He was third to Tony's Tapit in his last start. "We need to get him off the bridle and relax," said trainer Jerri Robertson. "He's feeling good; he's happy. There's no pressure on us. It's just fun to be here. How often do you get a chance to run in the Derby?"
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