DEL MAR — Last year, Tasso was named the Eclipse Award winner as the year's best 2-year-old colt. The winner of the Del Mar Futurity and Breeder's Cup Juvenile races in 1985 has been a disappointment this year, at least until Friday. Tasso looked like his old self by running away with the $50,000-added El Cajon Stakes in front of 17, 092 fans.
"I was very pleased with his race," said Neil Drysdale, trainer. "It looks to me that he's right back where he should be."
Tasso jumped up after a workout in New York in April and kicked himself, cutting his leg. He went on to run fourth in the Wood Memorial--a prep for the Kentucky Derby--but in the race, he re-opened the cut.
The injury caused him to miss the Kentucky Derby but he came back a week later to run second in the Withers Stakes, also in New York. It was decided that Tasso would miss the Preakness and the Belmont to run in the Jersey Derby May 26 at Garden State Park.
Tasso ran third in New Jersey, finishing 3 1/2 lengths behind Snow Chief, a horse he had beaten in the Del Mar Futurity here last summer. "We found just a spot of blood after he ran in the Jersey Derby," Drysdale said. "Just enough to make us concerned. It took us a long time to find the problem because it was sub-clinical. Finally, we discovered he had a pulmonary infection."
Drysdale treated Tasso with Lasix, a diuretic that helps reduce blood pressure and greatly reduces the chance a horse can bleed, before Friday's race. It was the first time Tasso had run with the drug--legal in the state for known bleeders--in his system.
Friday, Tasso was seventh, eight lengths back at the halfway point of the 1 1/16-mile race when jockey Laffit Pincay asked him to move.
He swung around three horses on the final turn and cruised home to beat Southern Halo by three lengths.
Tasso paid $4, $3.20 and $3.20. Southern Halo returned $3.60 and $3.60, while Bright Tom paid $6.40 to show.