01/16/2016 6:11PM

Leading Kentucky sires: Tapit

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◗ Leading Kentucky general sire by earnings and winners

Tapit had the kind of year in 2014 that most stallions never compile over the course of their lifetimes. In 2015, he went even further.

For a second straight year, the 15-year-old son of Pulpit topped the North American stallion ranks by earnings, with 315 runners compiling $17,677,580. That figure easily surpassed second-place Medaglia d’Oro, who finished the year with 254 runners earning $13,014,924.

What is impressive about this accomplishment is that Tapit clinched the North American earnings record in November, giving him an entire month to pad his lead. What makes it truly amazing is that it was his own record he was distancing.

In 2014, Tapit surpassed the previous earnings record set by Smart Strike in 2007 by the Breeders’ Cup in early November, meaning he had nearly two months to add to the most lucrative season a North American stallion ever had. A year later, his foals needed only 11 of the 12 months to outpace an already historic figure.

Tapit resides at Gainesway in Lexington, Ky., where he will stand his 12th year at stud for a fee of $300,000, North America’s highest advertised fee for the 2016 breeding season.

“He can get you any kind of horse,” said Michael Hernon, Gainesway’s director of sales. “He really moves his mares up, and they run at all distances on all surfaces. I think their one basic characteristic is their competitiveness at the highest level of racing. They’re really tough horses with great cardios, they stay sound, and they generally have a lot of speed and the ability to carry it.”

In setting the earnings record, Tapit was obviously helped by a healthy share of stakes winners, but he did it with quantity as well. His 175 winners topped the North American ranks, bettering runners-up Candy Ride and Giant’s Causeway, who were each represented by 156 winners.

A group of familiar faces led the way among Tapit’s progeny, with 2014 champion Untapable and Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist each returning to earn Grade 1 wins. The latter was one of two Eclipse Award finalists for Tapit in 2015, along with multiple Grade 2-winning juvenile Mohaymen.

Tapit’s highest-earning runner was Frosted, whose campaign included wins in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial and the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby. His clashes with Triple Crown winner American Pharoah also earned him a runner-up effort in the Belmont Stakes, a third in the Grade 1 Travers Stakes, and a fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby.

Others by Tapit to claim graded stakes victories in 2015 included Grade 1 winner Constitution; Grade 2 winners Race Day and Just Wicked; and Grade 3 winner Divining Rod, who was third in the Preakness Stakes.

On the turf, Tapit’s runners were led by Grade 1 winner Ring Weekend; Grade 3 winners Prospect Park, Tin Type Gal, White Rose, and Walk Close; and Grade 1-placed Closing Bell.

Tapit’s reign at the top of the auction market continued through 2015 as well, siring the most-expensive offerings of the yearling and juvenile portions of the North American auction calendar.

The yearling was a colt out of the winning Mr. Greeley mare Silver Colors, herself a daughter of Kentucky Derby winner Winning Colors, who sold to Mandy Pope’s Whisper Hill Farm for $2.1 million at the Keeneland September yearling sale. Tapit was the September sale’s leading stallion by total receipts for a fourth straight year and had the auction’s highest- or co-highest-priced offering for the second year in a row.

A Tapit filly made history during the juvenile season when bloodstock agency Solis/Litt went to $1.9 million for a daughter of the unraced Silver Deputy mare Silver Wolf to make her the most-expensive horse to ever sell at an Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. auction, changing hands at its spring sale of 2-year-olds in training in April. The filly was later named Inheritance.

“I think the belief is that Tapit can get you a high probability of a graded stakes winner or a Grade 1 winner by one of his progeny,” Hernon said. “His fillies are going to be in strong demand going forward based on him, their ability, and the very strong pedigrees that they’re out of now. I’m sure Tapit will emerge as a top broodmare sire in his own right, and his influence through his daughters will endure and be significant in the years ahead.”