Third in the Claiming Crown Emerald in his previous start at Gulfstream, Tusk completed the distance in 1:32.83 over a firm course under jockey Tyler Gaffalione.
“Today, he got a perfect trip,” Joseph said. “The speed went and he dropped in behind them. This is probably his best distance – a mile. I know he’s won further, but if he gets a fast run mile it fits him really good.”
Tusk overtook Gidu once he straightened for home and opened up once clear. Despite racing on demanding fractions that included a six-furlong split of 1:08.48, Gidu held strong for second with Maraud coming on late for third.
The Tropical Turf was the second start for Tusk under the trainer’s tutelage, who Joseph claimed for $32,000 out of a front-running win last October at Belmont Park. Tusk encountered some trouble in the Claiming Crown, but was only beaten two lengths. Second in the 2016 El Camino Real Derby (G3), Tusk’s last graded attempt came in the Mathis Brothers Mile (G2) in December 2016.
“I was really excited about him last time. He was training tremendous. It was a little disappointing he got beat,” Joseph said. “Today, he was jumping up again. That’s why we took a shot – don’t let that one race set us back and take a shot.”
Tapit stands at Gainesway for $200,000.