ELMONT, N.Y. – Two-time graded stakes-winner Tax continues to train forwardly at Saratoga working towards his first start since running fifth in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap on May 2. The 2019 Grade 2 Jim Dandy winner has spent the summer at the Spa, including a bullet four-furlong work in 47.63 over the Oklahoma training track on Wednesday.
Trainer Danny Gargan said the 4-year-old Tax could next run in the Grade 3, $250,000 Pimlico Special on October 2 on the eve of the Preakness or the Grade 2, $200,000 Hagyard Fayette on October 10 at Keeneland.
His conditioner said a five-month layoff should mean a fresh horse. Tax has run just twice in the current campaign, starting with a ninth-place effort in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Invitational in January at Gulfstream Park.
“He’s training phenomenal and I think he’s coming back better than he’s ever been,” Gargan said. “He always runs good with a lot of time in between his races. That’s always been the key for him, and we’re really happy with how he’s coming back.”
Owned by R.A. Hill Stable, Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Hugh Lynch and Corms Racing Stable, Tax made his stakes debut on the NYRA circuit as a juvenile, running third in the 2018 Grade 2 Remsen at Aqueduct Racetrack. Last year, his victory in the Grade 3 Withers and a second place effort in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial presented by NYRA Bets propelled him to the Triple Crown trail, where he placed 14th in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby and ran fourth in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes before his Jim Dandy win.
After running seventh in the Grade 1 Runhappy Travers at Saratoga, Tax ended his sophomore year with a solid second in the Grade 3 Discovery in November at the Big A, registering the first triple digit Beyer of his career at 101.
New York-bred Ice Princess, also well-known to the NYRA circuit, could return to the worktab soon after running second to Makingcents in the Fleet Indian on New York Showcase Day September 4.
Owned by Flying P Stable, R.A. Hill Stable and Corms Racing Stable, Ice Princess is 6-3-1-0 with earnings of $179,189. The 3-year-old daughter of Palace Malice won the Maddie May in February at Aqueduct, building on a juvenile campaign in which she won her debut and followed with a fourth in the Grade 1 Frizette in October at Belmont.
“It’s up in the air where to run her next,” Gargan said. “She came out of the race good. She hadn’t run in a long time. She had a bit of a rough trip and she probably should have won the race, so I was a little disappointed. But I don’t really know where to run her next. She should be working in about three or four days.”
Another regally named Gargan-conditioned horse looking to build on an impressive effort is Stunning Princess, who will face stakes competition for the first time after making a strong account of herself against quality competition in her first two starts. Also owned by R.A. Hill Stable, along with Brereton Jones, Stunning Princess will compete in Sunday’s one-mile Grade 1, $250,000 Natalma on the turf at Woodbine.
In her debut, Stunning Princess ran second by two lengths on July 23 at Saratoga going 1 1/16 miles on firm turf. The victor in that race was Plum Ali, a Christophe Clement-trained next-out winner of the $500,000 Mint Juvenile Fillies in September.
Gargan wheeled the juvenile Cairo Prince filly back a month later and saw another strong second when defeated a nose to the Chad Brown-trained Ingrassia going 1 1/16 miles on Saratoga turf labeled good on August 19.
“I think the two fillies that beat us are two of the best [juvenile] fillies in the country,” Gargan said. “The filly that beat us came back and won a half-million dollar race in Kentucky and could be the favorite in the Breeders’ Cup [Juvenile Fillies Turf]. And the one who beat us in the second race is a highly respected filly in New York who is super nice. So, I’m excited to run her Saturday. I think the mile suits her better than the mile and a sixteenth. If she takes to it over there, I’m looking for a big effort.”
Photo: Tax winning the 2019 Jim Dandy at Saratoga. Credit: Coglianese/Chelsea Durand