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Breeders' Cup 2017

2014 Kentucky Derby Hopeful: Tapiture


Few stallions on the market are more successful than Tapit. His progeny have been winning graded stakes races left and right, and breeders have sent some of the most accomplished mares in recent years to the gray stallion in hopes of adding to Tapit’s plethora of stakes-winning offspring. But Tapit’s success story is not over yet.

While siring a Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner does not define a stallion’s career, it is certainly a main goal. Winning the Kentucky Derby was a task Tapit attempted to accomplish himself, but a ninth-place finish on the first Saturday of May in 2004 left Tapit’s only chance at Derby glory to be as a sire.

The best a son of Tapit has managed in the Run for the Roses was Normandy Invasion’s fourth-place effort last year. Could Tapiture become Tapit’s first Derby winner?

Racing Performances

Like many promising two-year-olds, Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Tapiture made his career debut on a warm summer day at Saratoga. In that six and one-half-furlong maiden special weight, the chestnut colt faced a colt that would later become one of his rivals: Strong Mandate. That day, the D. Wayne Lukas charge would get the better of Tapiture, drawing off to win by 4 ½ lengths. However, Tapiture certainly did not embarrass himself that day, as he was a clear second after pressing the pace set by Strong Mandate.

Three weeks later, despite still being a maiden, Tapiture made his graded stakes debut in the Iroquois Stakes (gr. III) at Churchill Downs. Stretching out to a mile and one-sixteenth, Tapiture raced mid-pack throughout before making a rally along the inside rail down the stretch. After coming into contact with Laddie Boy, Tapiture edged clear, only to be caught by Cleburne and Smart Cover in the final strides to finish third. Among the horses that finished behind the Steve Asmussen-trained Tapiture was eventual Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes (gr. III) winner Rise Up.

Tapiture returned to the maiden ranks in his next start in late October beneath the twin spires, which was his first outing in seven weeks. The colt could only achieve a third-place finish that day, but a month later, Tapiture would experience a turning point in his career.

Under the lights at Churchill Downs on November 30, 2013, Tapiture encountered eight other juveniles in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II), a race that has produced five Derby winners. The colt was lost in the shuffle during the opening stages of the race, but found enough momentum on the backstretch to begin tracking the pace. A half-mile into the mile and one-sixteenth contest, Tapiture had advanced to second, where he remained down the remainder of the backstretch and into the final bend. As Ricardo Santana, Jr. remained motionless in the saddle, Tapiture drew even with the leader midway through the turn and immediately began to kick clear. Despite running greenly at the top of the stretch, the son of Tapit found his best stride and edged away from his rivals, lengthening his advantage down the lane under eager urging from Santana as he coasted under the wire to win by 4 ¼ lengths.

Kept away from the races for nearly three months, Tapiture made his three-year-old debut on February 17 in the Southwest Stakes (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park. This race marked a rematch with Strong Mandate, who had won the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) and finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) in the time that had passed since the colts had competed against each other.

Breaking from the inside, Tapiture took the inside route into the first turn and remained in that position as he pressed the pace. Just a half-length separated him from the leader, Tanzanite Cat, as the horses entered the backstretch. Although the colt’s position decreased to third when Ride On Curlin surged on the outside to take the lead, he grew closer to the front, with less than a half-length keeping him from being the leader. Nearing the far turn, Tapiture, put his nose in front and maintained that lead as the field entered the bend. At the top of the stretch, Tapiture kicked clear, drawing away powerfully to score by a dominant 4 ¼ lengths.

Pedigree Analysis

Classic distances tend to be suspect for offspring of Tapit, but it must be pointed out that Tapit has produced winners at the ten-furlong Derby distance. Tapit’s son, Testa Matta, won the Japan Dirt Derby (JPN-I) at 2,000 meters (approximately 10 furlongs), while Tapit’s daughter, Careless Jewel, was an 11-length victress of the 2009 Alabama Stakes (gr. I). Tapit’s sire, Pulpit, produced many distance horses, including the Russian group one winner Baletmeister, who won at 2,000 and 2,400 meters on several occasions; Ice Box, runner-up in 2010 Kentucky Derby; Pachattack, who won at ten furlongs and twelve furlongs multiple times; and Church Service, a graded stakes winner that placed in many routes, even up to thirteen furlongs.

It is worth noting that Tapit is a grandson of A.P. Indy, a son of 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew. A.P. Indy not only won the ten-furlong Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I), but was also victorious in the twelve-furlong Belmont Stakes (gr. I). One of the most prominent sires in recent years, A.P. Indy - a son of Triple Crown champion Seattle Slew - has produced the likes of the brilliant distance horses Bernardini, Mineshaft, and Rags to Riches – all classic winners at ten or twelve furlongs.

Tapit’s broodmare sire is Unbridled, winner of the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic. The 1990 Champion Three-Year-Old colt is also the broodmare sire of Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner Shackleford and his half-sister, Lady Joanne, a grade one winner at ten furlongs. Tapit’s granddam, the Reine de Course mare Ruby Slippers, was a daughter of English Triple Crown winner Nijinksy II, a major stamina influence in the ancestry of the Thoroughbred.

Tapiture’s dam, Free Spin, raced only six times and never won beyond six and one-half furlongs, but is a daughter of Olympio, who won the American Derby (gr. II) at the distance of ten furlongs. Free Spin has found much success as a broodmare and in addition to foaling Tapiture, she has produced his full siblings Remit – a multiple stakes winner who won up to a mile and one-sixteenth – and Retap – a graded stakes-placed stakes winner who only won up to six and one-half furlongs.

While Tapiture’s broodmare sire, Olympio, primarily found success in producing middle-distance runners and sprinters, he was a graded stakes winner at ten furlongs. In addition, the sire of Olympio’s granddam is Private Account – a grade one winner at ten furlongs who is most famous for siring the great champion Personal Ensign. While that undefeated champion never competed at a mile and one-quarter, Private Account did produce several ten-furlong grade one winners, including Classy Cathy, Corporate Report, East of the Moon, and Personal Flag – as well as Public Purse, who was a group stakes winner at a mile and three-quarters.

Although Tapiture’s pedigree leaves room for worry regarding his ability of winning at classic distances, his bloodlines are not entirely lacking of stamina. Furthermore, though Tapiture has not yet competed beyond a mile and one-sixteenth, the way in which he finishes races indicates that more distance is exactly what he needs. Time will tell how far he truly wants to go, but aside from his evident brilliance, Tapiture has an edge most Derby contenders do not: three races at Churchill Downs, including a victory. And he just may have the ability to triumph yet again under the twin spires, this time on the first Saturday in May.


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Older Comments about 2014 Kentucky Derby Hopeful: Tapiture...

This guy obviously likes the surface at CD, it will be like a coming home party the 1st Saturday in May!!

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