Kentucky Derby 2023: Will Tapit Trice be Tapit’s first winner?

Kentucky Derby 2023: Will Tapit Trice be Tapit’s first winner?
Photo: Candice Chavez/Eclipse Sportswire

Tapit Trice earned his fourth straight score with a courageous and nail-biting victory over Verifying in the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.

Breaking from the rail, the pretty gray colt wasn't the fastest out of the gate, and Luis Saez had to hustle to get a good position. He moved Tapit Trice off the rail to keep from being boxed in, and they traveled in mid-pack early.

Tapit Trice steadily picked off horses while four wide and battled a game Verifying down to the wire, neither giving an inch. It was 5 3/4 lengths back to the third-place finisher, Grade 1 winner Blazing Sevens.

Tapit Trice completed 1 1/8 miles in 1:50 and traveled his final furlong in 12.40 seconds.

The Todd Pletcher trainee owns 150 qualifying points and will join stablemates Forte and Kingsbarns in the Kentucky Derby.

Tapit Trice (Tapit - Danzatrice, by Dunkirk) was bred by Gainesway Thoroughbreds and was an eye-catching $1.3 million Keeneland September yearling. He races for the team of Whisper Hill Farm and Gainesway Stable (Antony Beck).

A later-maturing 2-year-old, Tapit Trice was third in his November one-mile debut at Aqueduct. He figured it out a month later at the same level.

Tapit's son lived up to his promise with an eight-length allowance victory in his 2023 season debut. He returned a month later to capture the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) by two lengths under a hand ride. He's won four of five starts and has earned $883,650.


Tapit (Pulpit - Tap Your Heels, by Unbridled) needs no introduction. He is a consistent top-five leading North American sire. Since 2014, four of his sons have won the Belmont Stakes, and two others placed.

Despite his leading sire status and classic-winning offspring, Tapit's resume lacks a Kentucky Derby winner, although Essential Quality (2021) and Tacitus (2019) finished third.

Tapit Trice hails from a classy stakes-winning family. His dam's full sister is 2018 Eclipse award champion 2-year-old filly Jaywalk (Cross Traffic), and other relations include multiple graded winners Mission Impazible, Forest Camp, and Spanish Empire.

Tapit Trice Pedigree

Danzatrice (Dunkirk - Lady Pewitt, by Orientate) competed in listed stakes from a mile to 1 1/16 miles. Her accomplishments include a 7 1/4-length score in the Tiffany Lass at Fair Grounds, a 4 1/4-length victory in the Parx Oaks and a win in the Iowa Distaff. She also placed third in the Groupie Doll Stakes (G3) at Ellis Park. In all, Danzatrice captured seven of 15 starts and earned $312,145.

Tapit Trice is a second foal. His older half-brother General Strike (Union Rags), retired as a maiden after a dozen starts. Tapit Trice has two unnamed full sisters, a 2-year-old and a yearling.

The well-bred Dunkirk, by Unbridled's Song out of Kentucky Oaks heroine Secret Status (A.P. Indy), was conditioned by Todd Pletcher. He won two of five starts and finished second in the 2009 Florida Derby (G1) and Belmont Stakes. But he suffered a condylar fracture to his left hind cannon bone during the Belmont Stakes and retired to Ashford Stud.

Despite his blue-blooded lineage, Dunkirk sired only 16 North American stakes winners from 871 starters and moved to Japan in 2015. His most accomplished runner was 2013 Champagne Stakes (G1) hero Havana. Dunkirk's offspring are strong milers, except for Camp Creek, a winner at 1 1/2 miles over the Woodbine turf in 2:29.45.

As a broodmare sire, Dunkirk is represented by two stakes winners from 144 starters.

Kentucky Derby contender or pretender?

The Blue Grass Stakes has lost some luster as a precursor to a Kentucky Derby victory. Strike the Gold was the last Blue Grass/Kentucky Derby winner (1991). The Blue Grass heyday was from 1963 to 1972, when seven of 10 Blue Grass heroes wore the roses.

But don't toss the Blue Grass as a solid prep for Derby exotics. Three of the last five winners, Good Magic (2018), Essential Quality (2021) and Zandon (2022), placed second or third in the Keeneland race.

Tapit Trice has the pedigree and conformation to handle 1 1/4 miles. But there are knocks against him for the Kentucky Derby. He's slow to get going and needs to be hustled into contention. The big gray colt appears one-paced, closing with a steady grind, and turns his head to the right when passing rivals.

Taipt Trice might follow the path of other Tapit sons, possibly hitting the lower exotics in the Derby and then putting forth a strong effort in the Belmont Stakes.

Meet Laurie Ross

 HRN Pedigree Analyst 


 Published Author

 Pedigree Research/Consultation/Sales 

 ThoroFan Board Member

 Member – NTWAB

Through hands-on work at barns, I learned valuable lessons about Thoroughbred conformation, gait, and temperament and later worked withThoroughbred rescue/re-train organizations. I have committed my passion for horses to the intensive study of pedigree and breeding theory for the last 20 years. 

I support clients with all aspects of pedigree/breeding analysis, research, sales, catalogue review, and recommendations on claims or private sales. Clients include national leading owners, racing/breeding syndicates, the little guy with one mare, and everyone in between. 10-20% of all proceeds are donated to Thoroughbred rescue & retraining groups. Check out my website, Iron Maidens Thoroughbreds, and the IMTBreds blog.

I welcome your questions regarding pedigree, handicapping, and breeding. If you would like me to cover a specific topic, please contact me. 

Twitter: @IMTBreds
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