Tapalo rolls to victory in Lazaro Barrera

Sunday, May 12th, 2024

Hronis Racing’s Tapalo and jockey Hector Berrios dominate Sunday’s Lazaro Barrera. Stakes at Santa Anita Park. Benoit Photo.

Hronis Racing’s Tapalo, a 3-year-old son of Tapiture bred by Saratoga Glen Farm, became the latest New York-bred stakes winner in Southern California with a victory in Sunday’s $98,000 Lazaro Barrera Stakes at Santa Anita Park.

Tapalo, who earned his first stakes placing two starts back in the El Camino Real Derby, broke best in the 7-furlong Barrera and went straight to the lead. Allowed to set his own pace under Hector Isaac Berrios, Tapalo looked much the best down the backstretch as his rider sat quietly with a loop in his reins. Berrios had plenty of horse left as they entered the turn after setting early fractions of :22.69 and :45.02.

Running just behind the leader for much of the race, fellow New York-bred and 2-5 favorite Ball Don’t Lie was asked to close in the final quarter-mile but never mounted a serious challenge. Tapalo felt the whip a few times early in the stretch, but Berrios put it away in the final furlong to let the ridgling coast home a 7-length winner in 1:21.86. Ball Don’t Lie, a son of Blame bred by River Valley Farm and Hidden Lake Farm, settled for second with Tessuto another 5 1/2 lengths back in third.

“The break was perfect, he was traveling very comfortably,” Berrios said. “At the turn, he was very comfortable. The other horse needed a faster pace. My horse finished well. He has matured since the last time I rode him in October.”

Breaking his maiden in January for Hronis Racing and trainer John Sadler, Tapalo finished second in the $101,350 El Camino Real Derby in early February. He finished fifth in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby in early April. The Barrera victory improved his record to 2-2-1 from seven starts with $137,020 in earnings.

Sadler said Tapelo will most likely continue to be seen in middle-distance races in the future.

“He got eliminated in the Santa Anita Derby and I was thinking about giving him a little more time, but he had such a good work last weekend. I said ‘he’s ready to go back,’ ” Sadler said. “I thought this was a good distance for him. Anywhere from 7 to a mile, a mile and an eighth might be OK. He’s kind of a free-running horse. He has a lot of mobility. Hopefully we have a lot more ahead of him.”

Although he’s spent his racing career California, Tapalo has plenty of experience traveling around the country after selling at three sales in two states before making his way to the West Coast.

He sold for $40,000 as a short yearling at the 2022 OBS winter mixed sale before returning to his native state to sell for $20,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred yearling sale. Tapalo later sold for $55,000 at last year’s OBS March sale of 2-year-olds in training to Martin Anthony.

Foaled at Saratoga Glen Farm in Schuylerville, Tapalo is one of three winners from three to race out of the Empire Maker mare Agent Romanoff. A daughter of Grade 3 winner Bridge Game, Agent Romanoff is a half-sister to the stakes-placed Shalako and six other winners from 11 runners out of her their dam. Tapalo descends from the extended family of Horse of the Year Tiznow and Grade 1 winners Paynter, Oxbow and Sweet Azteca.

After two years without foals, Agent Romanoff foaled a Saratoga Glen Farm-bred colt by Sequel Stallions New York’s Honest Mischief in March.

Tapalo joins two-time graded stakes winner Kinza as California stakes winners hailing from the New York-bred program in 2024.

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