Tapizar, a strapping Kentucky bred son of Tapit, owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds, had shown a fondness for Santa Anita Park as he stepped into the gate for the 2012 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile. He won the Sham Stakes there as a 3-year-old, and began his 4-year-old season with a three length victory in the San Fernando Stakes, his first start since finishing fifth in the 2011 Dirt Mile at Churchill Downs.
Tapizar would race just three more times before the Breeders' Cup for trainer Steve Asmussen, a campaign which included a win in the West Virginia Governor's Stakes at Mountaineer Park but was followed by a disastrous 20 length defeat in the Kelso at Belmont Park. Though sent away in the Dirt Mile at 15-1 under Corey Nakatani, Tapizar came to race. Stalking the pace early on, Tapizar moved for the lead at the turn for home and took command in the stretch to win by 2 1/2 lengths.