06/12/2017 9:57AM

Sparkman: Tapit joins long-dormant three-Belmont club

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Justin N. Lane
Tapwrit wins the Belmont Stakes, becoming the third son of Tapit to win the 1 1/2-mile classic.

In the first 148 runnings of the Belmont Stakes only four stallions sired three or more winners of America’s oldest and longest classic. Sixteen-time leading American sire Lexington holds the record, having sired four of the first 12 winners (General Duke, 1868; Kingfisher, 1870; Harry Bassett, 1871; and Duke of Magenta, 1878), and Lexington’s barnmate at the Alexander family’s Woodburn Stud Australian sired three (Joe Daniels, 1872; Springbok, 1873; and Spendthrift, 1879). Australian established the greatest and most enduring line of American stayers, and his male line descendants Fair Play (Man o’ War, 1920; Mad Play, 1924; and Chance Shot, 1927) and Man o’ War (American Flag, 1925; Crusader, 1926; and War Admiral, 1937) emulated their line-founding ancestor.

The fact that the last of those Belmont Stakes victories for the Australian male line was 80 years ago is a measure of how much the American - and indeed the global - breeding industry has changed in the interim, and of how little stamina is valued in the contemporary breeding industry. Last Saturday, Tapit joined the honor roll of sires of American stayers with the victory of his son Tapwrit in the 149th Belmont. The Belmont win was the third for a son of Tapit.

Since War Admiral completed his Triple Crown in 1937, five other stallions (Bold Venture, Count Fleet, Gallant Fox, Nasrullah, and Seattle Slew) had sired two winners of the Belmont. At least since the syndication of Secretariat for $6 million in 1973 kick-started the commercial era of Thoroughbred breeding, however, no stallion manager would have listed siring a Belmont winner as a major goal for his stallion. In a world obsessed with speed, Belmont winners, especially those without major victories at a mile or less, are seen as plodders, which is anathema to breeders.

Since Tapit sires top-class winners over all distances and surfaces and includes champion juveniles Stardom Bound and Hansen among his 100 stakes winners, 63 group or graded winners, 22 Grade 1 or Group 1 winners, and three champions, being the sire of three Belmont winners will hardly tarnish his reputation with the stain of stamina. Bred in Kentucky by Oldenburg Farms LLC and purchased for $625,000 at the 2002 Keeneland September yearling sale by David Fiske as agent for Winchell Thoroughbreds, Tapit has led the American sire list each of the last three years, and stands fourth on the 2017 sire list.

In addition to his two juvenile champions, Tapit has sired champion 3-year-old filly Untapable (Fun House, by Prized), and Grade 1 winning milers Frosted (Fast Cookie, by Deputy Minister), Tapitsfly (Flying Marlin, by Marlin), Ring Weekend (Free the Magic, by Cryptoclearance), and Tapizar (Winning Call, by Deputy Minister), as well as Grade 1-winning juveniles Sweet Loretta (Ithinkisawapudycat, by Bluegrass Cat), Pretty City Dancer (Pretty City, by Carson City), and Tell a Kelly (Evrobi, by Tabasco Cat). His reputation as a sire of precocious speed is secure.

Bred in Kentucky by Leonard Riggio’s My Meadowview LLC, Tapwrit is the sixth foal and first stakes winner out of Appealing Zophie, by Successful Appeal. Appealing Zophie was a fast, classy racemare Riggio purchased for $1.1 million at the 2007 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky November sale. Winner of the Grade 1 Spinaway in 2006 and Grade 3 Silverbulletday Stakes in 2007, Appealing Zophie is the third daughter of the young broodmare sire Successful Appeal (a male line descendant of Man o’ War), to produce a Grade 1 winner, and the first to produce a classic winner.

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Appealing Zophie is the only stakes winner out of her dam, Zophie, by Hawkster, a half-sister to stakes winner Yankee Mon, by Maria’s Mon, out of Sodeo Sodeo, by Seattle Slew. Sodeo Sodeo, though, was half-sister to Grade 1 winner Croeso, by Super Concorde, and stakes winners Cardell, by Super Concorde, and Maytide, by Naskra, from an outstanding family developed by Maxwell Gluck’s Elmendorf Farm descending from the imported French-bred mare Sylvanaise, by Meridien.

Bridlewood Farm, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, and Robert V. LaPenta purchased Tapwrit for $1.2 million, third highest price at the 2015 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale of selected yearlings. Trained by Todd Pletcher, he won two of his three starts at 2 last year, including the listed Pulpit Stakes at Gulfstream Park, before capturing the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby earlier this year.

Tapwrit is the fourth male line descendant of 1992 Belmont winner A.P. Indy to win the Belmont, following his champion daughter Rags to Riches and Tapit’s sons Tonalist and Creator. A.P. Indy was, of course, the best son of Belmont and Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, who is one of seven previous male line descendants of eight-time leading American sire Bold Ruler to win the Belmont. Tapwrit is, in fact, inbred to Seattle Slew 4x4, and also carries three crosses of In Reality (6x5x4), three of Mr. Prospector (4x5x6), and two of Northern Dancer (5x6) in his first six generations.