Taris smokes foes by 9 lengths in Raven Run Stakes

Taris, with jockey Clinton Potts up, ran away from the competition from the start in the Grade II Raven Run Stakes, despite a Keeneland track that favored closers on Saturday.
Taris, with jockey Clinton Potts up, ran away from the competition from the start in the Grade II Raven Run Stakes, despite a Keeneland track that favored closers on Saturday.

It had been four years since trainer Todd Beattie had saddled a graded stakes winner. It had been six years since jockey Clinton Potts guided a mount to an elite-level triumph.

If Taris' first five career starts are any indication, victories against some of the best in her division will become the norm rather than exception.

The filly and mare sprint division appears to have itself a new wickedly fast, wonderfully dangerous player in its midst. On a day when front-end speed was collapsing over the Keene-land main track, Beattie-trainee Taris led every point of call and threw down the hammer in the stretch of the Grade II, $250,000 Lexus Raven Run Stakes, winning by nine lengths over a field of 10 other sophomore fillies.

Beattie had never started a horse at Keeneland prior to Saturday's Raven Run, and a better introduction he could not have crafted. In notching her fourth win in five career starts, Taris became the first graded stakes winner Beattie had led over since Our Khrysty took the 2010 Grade III Turnback the Alarm and the first graded stakes winner Potts had been aboard since he booted home Black Seventeen in the 2008 Grade I Vosburgh.

"She's shown it from the get-go," Beattie said of Taris' ability. "We saw it early on but we had to wait on her. She had some small problems that we had to stop and wait on. But we really believed in this filly the whole time. We think she wants to go further.

"The timing was right (in this race), the distance was right so we took our swing."

Since debuting at Aqueduct last December, Taris has been virtually unchallenged when she is right, notching her four wins by a combined margin of 34 lengths.

Her lone loss came when she finished fifth, elevated from sixth via disqualification, in the Grade III Honeybee at Oaklawn Park on March 8. She emerged from that race with a small stress fracture in a shin, according to Beattie.

The bay filly returned to her prior dominance, however, when she won a six-furlong allowance over the synthetic surface at Presque Isle Downs on Sept. 10.

"What an amazing horse she is. We knew we had something there, but what she proved today," Potts said. "Todd (Beattie) has done such an amazing job with this filly. With her, the biggest thing is just to get her to relax. She's really maturing, coming into herself. She makes my job easy."

Given how the Keeneland main track had played to closers all day, there were nerves for Beattie as he watched his charge rip off fractions of 22.45 and 44.80 on the front end.

Coming off the final turn, Taris spurted away from Miss Behaviour and piled up the lengths between her and eventual runner-up Sweet Whiskey.

"Oh I was sick to death worried about (how the track was playing)," Beattie said. "I told Clinton, 'Stay out there. If I'm wrong I'm wrong.' But I think we're just now starting to see what this filly can do."

Owned by Commonwealth New Era Racing, Taris was sent off at 7-to-1 odds and covered the seven-furlong distance in 1:21.32 — a track record over the new Keeneland dirt course. Thank You Marylou rallied from last in the 11-horse field to get third, 11/4 lengths behind Sweet Whiskey.

Beattie was noncommittal on where Taris might make her next appearance but, with wins over both dirt and synthetic and a bottom that has yet to be reached, there is no option he would be scared to tackle with her at this stage.

"We're excited. We're going to keep hearing from her I think," he grinned.