06/07/2017 12:36PM

Denali's Belmont pair a story of a prince and a pauper

Barbara D. Livingston
Tapwrit was purchased for $1.2 million at the 2015 Saratoga Selected Yearling sale.

Craig and Holly Bandoroff’s Denali Stud has a pair of auction graduates pointed for the Belmont Stakes, and they head into Saturday’s race from completely different points on the spectrum.

Tapwrit is the golden child. The gray son of Tapit was one of the standout offerings of the elite Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale in 2015 and sold to the partnership of Bridlewood Farm, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, and Robert LaPenta for $1.2 million. He’s lived up to the hammer price by winning the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby.

Twisted Tom took a less-orthodox route to the Belmont. The New York-bred Creative Cause gelding was put through the ring twice as a yearling, finishing under his reserve with a final bid of $22,000 at both the 2015 Fasig-Tipton New York-bred yearling sale and the Kentucky fall yearling sale. He was later sold privately and is a two-time stakes winner at Laurel Park.

Their paths and expectations varied, but the horses shared common ground early on through Denali Stud’s Paris, Ky.-based yearling prep program.

Craig Bandoroff said the explanation for the farm’s success does not lie in any particular method but in its clientele and the land itself.

“We’re very fortunate to work with good people, we breed good horses and have good mares, and try to raise them as horses,” he said. “I think we’re on a very good belt of land in Bourbon County. I think it’s some of the best land in Kentucky. You try to treat them like horses, let them be outside a lot, and hope it all comes together.”

Tapwrit, out of the Grade 1-winning Successful Appeal mare Appealing Zophie, was handled for breeder My Meadowview Farm.

“We’re always very careful what we take to Saratoga,” Bandoroff said. “We felt like he fit the bill. Fortunately, Lincoln Collins, who manages the My Meadowview band, had enough confidence in us to let us use our judgment. We went there, and the horse did what he needed to do as far as show well and put on a presence like he was something special.”

Twisted Tom, a third-generation product from the small New York broodmare band of Drs. William Wilmot and Joan Taylor, came from the first crop of Creative Cause and is out of the winning Thunder Gulch mare Tiffany Twisted.

“He was a big, growthy colt,” Bandoroff said. “He was always probably a bit too big for the market. He had a vet issue that we didn’t think was serious, but it was serious enough to get penalized. Credit to Bill and Joan. They had faith in him to buy him back in New York, and they had faith in him again and bought him back again in October.”