06/13/2016 10:35AM

Sparkman: Big Belmont Stakes Day puts Tapit back on top

Michael Amoruso
Creator, with Irad Ortiz Jr. up, outfinishes Destin to win the Belmont Stakes.

Two-time leading American sire Tapit had a very good day Saturday. Not long after his 4-year-old son Frosted ran away with the prestigious Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap, his 3-year-old son Creator became Tapit’s second Belmont Stakes winner with his final-stride victory over Destin.

Those two victories assured Tapit of his accustomed place atop the American general sire list, more than $3 million clear of second-ranked Uncle Mo, who briefly assumed leadership after Nyquist’s victory in the Kentucky Derby. Tapit’s son Lani also finished third in the Belmont after a wide trip.

Creator is the second classic winner, 17th Grade 1/Group 1 winner, and one of 52 graded stakes winners and 82 stakes winners worldwide sired by Tapit. While those numbers are well short of the comparable statistics on the amazing stud career of the world’s best stallion Galileo, they make it clear that Tapit is the best sire in America as attested by his $300,000 stud fee, a number breeders are happy to pay – if they can find a season.

Tapit’s percentage of stakes winners currently stands at 9.2 percent from foals age 3 and up, but is steadily climbing toward the 10 percent benchmark that, before the explosion in book size 25 years ago, separated the really top sires from the merely good ones. Galileo sires 12.5 percent stakes winners among his Northern Hemisphere foals (he was less successful during early shuttle seasons in Australia), he is three years older than Tapit, and covers much larger books, so it is somewhat unfair to compare Galileo’s 227 Northern Hemisphere stakes winners, 49 Grade 1/Group 1 winners, and 24 European classic winners to Tapit’s numbers.

:: DRF BREEDING LIVE: Real-time coverage of breeding and sales

In the American context, however, Tapit stands well clear of everything else. By Pulpit out of Tap Your Heels, by Unbridled, Tapit was bred by Oldenburg Farms and sold for $625,000 to agent David Fiske, manager of the Winchell Family’s Oakwind Farm near Lexington, Ky. That price was guarantor of Tapit’s good looks, since Pulpit was a second-tier stallion who had not yet developed his current reputation as a sire of sires.

Tapit’s racing career was a story of potential unfulfilled due to illness. Winner of all three of his starts at 2, including the Grade 3 Laurel Futurity for trainer Michael Dickinson, he won the Grade 1 Wood Memorial at 3 while not fully recovered from a lung infection, which compromised his subsequent career.

Unlike the classic-winning champion Galileo, he did not cover a large, top-class book of mares early in his career, but it did not matter. His first crop took off with champion 2-year-old filly Stardom Bound (out of My White Corvette, by Tarr Road) leading the way, followed three crops later by champion 2-year-old male Hansen (Stormy Sunday, by Sir Cat).

Hansen’s pedigree was a testament to Tapit’s extraordinary merit as a stallion, since there was no other black type in the first five generations along Hansen’s female line. Predictably, once foals out of better mares began to appear in Tapit’s fifth crop, he quickly ascended to the top of the American sire list, through the exploits of champion Untapable (Fun House, by Prized), Belmont winner Tonalist (Settling Mist, by Pleasant Colony), and Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Tapizar (Winning Call, by Deputy Minister), among many others.

Creator, who was bred in Kentucky by Greg Goodman’s Mt. Brilliant Broodmares and purchased for $440,000 by WinStar Farm’s Maverick Racing at the 2014 Keeneland September yearling sale, is the second foal out of Morena, by Privately Held, a Peruvian champion racemare imported by Goodman, who ran second in three graded stakes and third in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign in the United States.

Half-sister to Group 3 winner La Querella, by Apprentice, Morena’s dam, Charytin, by 1978 Belmont winner Summing, was the Peruvian Broodmare of the Year in 2008 and 2009 and is second dam of two other Peruvian stakes winners.

Charytin was a half-sister to Peruvian Group 3 winner Nain, by Devil’s Moon, and is a descendant of a very tough but not particularly high-class American family. Creator’s sixth dam, Stay Smoochie, by Alquest, won the Jasmine Stakes at Gulfstream Park in 1958 and was a fifth generation tail-female descendant of Pietra, by Pietermaritzburg, a mare imported to the United States about 100 years ago.

Morena has since produced the unraced 2-year-old colt Pear Lemonade, by Lemon Drop Kid, who was listed as sold for $100,000 to Kazakov at the 2015 Keeneland September sale; a yearling colt by Street Cry; and a 2016 filly by Tiznow. She has been bred back to Uncle Mo.