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In praise of Pleasant Tap

Some thoroughbred deaths elicit more of a response than others.

When Pleasant Tap was euthanized because of laminitis two weeks ago at 23, little was made of his passing. Lane’s End Farm, where the 1992 Champion Older Male had stood for the past 13 years, managed only a generic one-line statement in announcing the news.

Pleasant Tap was under-appreciated as a runner, in part because his best races came late in his career. At stud he was successful despite limited opportunities, improving his mares to a degree few stallions do. He was one of the last significant direct links to the great Ribot of the 1950s, as well as to their 19th-century ancestor St. Simon, one of the primary genetic sources of the modern thoroughbred.

Pleasant Tap was a sort of equine Forrest Gump, turning up in 25 graded races at tracks across the country. He competed in four straight Breeders’ Cups, each time in a different race. After failing to hit the board in the 1989 Juvenile and 1990 Turf, he was second in both the 1991 Sprint and 1992 Classic. He was a stakes winner at 2 and 3 years old; finished third in the Kentucky Derby; and as an older horse, ran almost exclusively in Grade I and Grade II races in California and New York.
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