12/26/2012 2:09PM

Havre de Grace to Tapit for first mating; Plum Pretty to Distorted Humor

Barbara D. Livingston
Reigning Horse of the Year Havre de Grace will visit the court of Tapit in 2013.

Reigning Horse of the Year Havre de Grace will be sent to Tapit for her initial mating in 2013, while 2011 Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty will be bred to Distorted Humor.

The two high-profile mares made headlines in early November when they were purchased for a combined $14.2 million by Mandy Pope’s Whisper Hill Farm in the span of 24 hours at the fall mixed sales. They now reside in the same paddock at Wayne and Cathy Sweezey’s Timber Town Stable in Lexington, Ky.

Havre de Grace, a 5-year-old mare from the only crop of Saint Liam, set the record for the highest price for a broodmare prospect sold at public auction when Pope bought her $10 million at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall selected mixed sale. Havre de Grace won nine of 16 starts for earnings of $2,586,175, highlighted by wins in the 2011 Woodward Stakes, Apple Blossom Handicap, and Beldame Invitational.

“We did the genetic research on this end, and Tapit is the best cross for her,” Wayne Sweezey said. “I’m pumped. We’ve had a number of Tapits born on the farm, so it’s not new to be breeding to Tapit, and to take that kind of mare to that kind of stallion is great.”

Tapit stands at Gainesway Farm in Lexington for an advertised fee of $125,000, co-second-highest stud fee in North America for 2013. The 11-year-old son of Pulpit has sired 2-year-old champions Stardom Bound and Hansen.

Tapit is fourth among North American sires by earnings, with $9,145,915. He is tied for the most Grade or Group 1 winners in 2012 with four, including Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Tapizar, Japanese February Stakes winner Testa Matta, Gazelle Stakes winner Dance Card, and multiple Grade 1 winner Tapitsfly.

From five crops of racing age, Tapit has sired 284 winners, 20 of them in graded or group company, and progeny earnings of more than $38.9 million.

Havre de Grace will be the second female Horse of the Year to be bred to Tapit in as many years, following 2010 Horse of the year Zenyatta.

In choosing a mate for Havre de Grace, Sweezey said that keeping the mare close to home was a deciding factor in Pope’s decision.

“Having a mare like Havre de Grace in her broodmare band, she is looking forward to trying to make money with the horse and maybe even racing a few out of her, and having that ilk of genetics,” he said. “Really, she understands that the chances of making that kind of money back are slim. With that being said, when I presented [Irish-based] Galileo to her, we talked about it at length, and she came back and said, ‘You know, it makes perfect sense from a business standpoint, but for me, I want to be able to come to the farm and pet my mare that I paid $10-million for, and I want to feed her carrots and watch her babies be born. That’s why I’m in this game, because I really love the horses.’ I think it’s really cool.”

In DRF Breeding's online poll of potential mates for Havre de Grace that was first published on December 20, voters chose Frankel as the best mate for her. Through voting on December 25, the voting was as follows: Frankel: 18.9%; Bernardini, 15.8%; Medaglia d'Oro, 12.7%; Tapit, 10.7%; Galileo, 10.4%; Tiznow, 10.1%; Malibu Moon, 8.7%; Giant's Causeway, 7.5%; and Distorted Humor, 5.2%.

Pope purchased Plum Pretty, a 4-year-old Medaglia d’Oro filly, for $4.2 million at the first session of the Keeneland November breeding stock sale. The filly won five of 12 starts, including the 2012 Apple Blossom Handicap, and earned $1,688,746.

Distorted Humor stands at WinStar Farm in Versailles, Ky., for a fee of $100,000. He was the leading North American sire by earnings in 2011, and is the sire of dual classic winner Funny Cide, Belmont Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Drosselmeyer, and Travers Stakes winner Flower Alley.

“They are a lovely match physically, but more importantly, successful racehorses bred to Distorted Humor have significant infusion of La Troienne on the sire and dam's side,” Sweezey said. “This cross does that.”

A 19-year-old son of Forty Niner, Distorted Humor has sired 687 winners, including 45 graded stakes winners, from 11 crops of racing age and progeny earnings of more than $92.5-million.