Copper Tax taking big swing in G2 Remsen

Rose Petal Stables’ multiple stakes-winning Copper Tax will look to extend his win streak to six when making his graded stakes debut in Saturday’s Grade 2, $250,000 Remsen, a nine-furlong test for juveniles, at Aqueduct Racetrack.

The Remsen, one of four graded events on the lucrative Grade 2 Cigar Mile Handicap presented by NYRA Bets card, offers the top-five finishers 10-5-3-2-1 qualifying points, respectively, towards the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on May 4 at Churchill Downs.

Copper Tax, a bay son of Copper Bullet, will vie for his third consecutive stakes conquest for trainer Gary Capuano, looking to add to impressive scores in the one-mile Rocky Run in October at Delaware Park and the six-furlong James F. Lewis, III at Laurel Park last out on November 11.

“He’s obviously done everything we’ve asked of him so far,” said Capuano, who looks to notch his first graded win since the 2005 Salvator Mile Handicap with Cherokee’s Boy. “He’s run quite a bit this year which kind of caught me by surprise. I wasn’t expecting him to be ready that early, but he’s pretty seasoned and is coming into the race good. We’re stretching out to the mile and an eighth – which is always a question – against some better horses, so we’ll find out what he’s made of.”

The James F. Lewis saw the talented colt bumped at the start and forced to trail the field in last of seven, racing farther back than he ever had in his career. Despite the trouble, Copper Tax improved his position at every point of call to find enough late with a move between foes and defeated Inveigled by a neck in a final time of 1:11.30 over the fast main track. The win, which came in his first venture outside of Delaware, garnered a career-best 82 Beyer Speed Figure.

“He didn’t get away and got bumped leaving the gate, so he was far back,” said Capuano. “Turning for home, he didn’t really have any place to go and bulled his way through. He got bumped around there and surged at the end. He showed a lot of guts and a lot of determination. He seems to go with the flow.”

Copper Tax began his career in the waiver maiden claiming ranks and graduated at that level in June, but Capuano said he always showed he could be something special.

“We always knew he had talent, and those maidens weren’t easy, but they weren’t extremely tough,” the trainer said. “He just keeps getting better and trains really nice. He has a great personality and he keeps moving forward, which is a good thing. He’ll get a little break after this race and then we’ll see what happens.”

Copper Tax has made one start beyond sprint distances when taking the one-mile Rocky Run on October 14, acing his first two-turn test with flying colors as he led at each point of call and drew clear to a 6 3/4-length score under Mychel Sanchez. He defeated a field that included impressive maiden winners Thedingoateyobaby and Crazy Mason, the latter of which was a 9 1/2-length winner this summer at Saratoga Race Course.

“We thought there were a few horses in there that they thought pretty high of from the scuttlebutt, but he came out there in good order and just took off and had no issues with the mile anyway,” said Capuano.

While his Rocky Run win came in wire-to-wire fashion, Copper Tax proved with his James F. Lewis score that he can handle adversity and a change in tactics should the need arise as he breaks from post 9-of-10 under Kendrick Carmouche on Saturday. Copper Tax is 10-1 on the morning line.

“There’s enough speed in there and he drew the outside post, so that’s always a question going into the first turn,” said Capuano. “He’s not real quick leaving the gate, but he does have speed if you need it. If he can break in good order, he’ll put himself in the race I think. It just depends on the break if he can get a decent position. Everything depends on the break.”

Copper Tax, who has worked one mile over the Laurel Park main track for his last two breezes, was a $45,000 purchase at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale and is out of the stakes-placed Majestic Warrior mare Wilhelmina.