Tappin Cat powers to Sussex triumph

Tappin Cat bobbled slightly leaving the starting gate in Thursday’s $50,000 Sussex Stakes at Delaware Park. That turned out to be the only thing in the race that didn’t go to plan for the six-year-old Maryland-bred gelding.

Under jockey Angel Cruz, Tappin Cat, trained by Gary Capuano for Non Stop Stable, sat a perfect trip off twin speed horses before taking over in the lane to win by 2 ¼ lengths in 1:39.84 for one mile on a muddy main track.

The Peach Blossom, for Delaware certified three-year-olds and up, was originally slated for 7 ½ furlongs on the turf. But heavy rains prior to the day’s racing forced Delaware to move the race to the main track, also lengthening it to a flat mile.

It marked the second consecutive day that Capuano had sent out a main-track only entrant to win a Delaware certified stake. On Wednesday, his trainee Malibu Beauty won the Peach Blossom.

In today’s contest, Tappin Cat quickly recovered from his slight bobble to attain a perfect stalking position along the rail. He was just a couple of lengths off dueling leaders Indian Lake and Kenny Had a Notion. The leaders tugged the field through an opening half-mile in 47.66 seconds, with Tappin Cat in third and poised to pounce.

Rounding the turn, Kenny Had a Notion, who has done his best work sprinting, threw in the towel. But as he did, Cruz moved Tappin Cat three wide to challenge for the lead. In the final furlong, he finally wore down Indian Lake and powered home to win.

Indian Lake held second, while Wild Banker was along for third. Kenny Had a Notion tired badly late to finish fourth, more than 17 lengths behind the winner. Samedi Night was never involved and finished fifth.

Off as the 6-5 favorite, Tappin Cat paid $4.40 to win. The exacta, with the favorite and second choice occupying its two slots, returned $3.40 for a one-dollar wager.

Tappin Cat now has nine wins from 32 career starts to go with earnings of $465,249. The win was his second career stakes victory; he also won last year’s DTHA Governors Day Handicap over the Delaware strip.

Tappin Cat and Angel Cruz won the Sussex. Photo Mike Valiante.