China Horse Club and Clearsky Farms' Abel Tasman and Mike Smith came from dead last to capture the Acorn (G1) on Belmont Day. She closed with a flourish, just as she did when she won the Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs in May, though this time she took the inside track rather than the overland route.
Abel Tasman was last of seven through the first half of the one-mile Acorn, as far out as five-wide. When a sliver of daylight opened on the rail turning for home, she willing dove through it and took the lead from pacesetter Florida Fabulous. She won comfortably by a length over a late-closing Salty, running the mile in 1:35.37. Bob Baffert trains the Kentucky-bred.
Abel Tasman employed a similar running style in winning the Kentucky Oaks, running last in the early going and trailing the field through the half. She still had only four fillies beaten at the three-quarters, but was getting in gear on the outside for Smith. Once she nabbed the lead at the head of the stretch, it was all clear sailing.
The filly now has recorded five wins in eight lifetime starts, including a victory in the 2016 Starlet (G1), and earnings of $1,287,060. She also finished second in the Santa Ysabel (G3) in March and Santa Anita Oaks (G1) in April, both at Santa Anita.
Breeder Clearsky Farms consigned Abel Tasman to Keeneland’s 2015 September Yearling Sale. China Horse Club acquired an interest in the filly in January. She is out of the Deputy Minister mare Vargas Girl.
Abel Tasman got off to a rough start in life. “She was a very long-legged foal, and [right before birth] she put a foot through the mare's uterus. There was nothing we could do for (her dam),” said Barry Robinette, farm manager for Clearsky Farms. “Dr. Canterbury and Dr. Wells from Hagyard Equine Medical Institute came to the farm, and by doing a c-section with my son Mason's help, we were able to save the foal.
“We got her into the farm truck and made a dash for the hospital, with my wife Lois in the backseat trying to hold the foal down.”
Abel Tasman turned out to be fine and was quickly put on a nursemare. “She never looked back,” said Robinette. “(It was) quite an exciting start, and she's brought even more excitement for the farm now!”