09/05/2008 12:00AM

Tapit's stature growing heading into sale


LEXINGTON, Ky. - With the maiden victory for his 2-year-old daughter Stardom Bound coming in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante, freshman sire Tapit has stepped into the spotlight in the week leading up to the Keeneland September yearling sale.

Gainesway's Michael Hernon said siring a Grade 1 winner such as this "is a pivotal accomplishment for a young stallion going forward in his stud career" because it shows the sire is getting quality in his winners.

Buyers are always on the lookout for first-crop success stories, so they can pounce on the most likely prospects for the 2-year-old sales of 2009 or for racing next summer and fall.

And by the way that the vast Keeneland sale is arranged, yearlings by Tapit will be available for nearly the entire auction's two weeks. The stallion has 34 yearlings consigned to the mammoth auction, with lots in every book except the prestigious Book 1.

Hernon noted that "Book 1 is dominated by the upper-echelon stallions such as Storm Cat, A.P. Indy, Distorted Humor, Mr. Greeley, and so forth that stand for very substantial fees." Tapit stands for $15,000.

Some of the more exciting individuals available by Tapit include Hip No. 535, a bay colt out of Ryvnine, by Broad Brush. Out of a full sister to Breeders' Cup Classic winner Concern, this colt is a smooth and attractive young athlete and is a good mover. He has quality and good balance and will sell out of the Dromoland Farm consignment.

Hip No. 1664 is a chestnut filly out of Love U Fran, by Phone Trick. This filly is athletic, attractive, and sizable with quality. She has good bone and scope. Her frame is very pleasing, and she is a promising individual. Gainesway consigns her for Winchell Thoroughbreds, which raced the sire.

In fact, Winchell Thoroughbreds acquired Tapit at the 2002 Keeneland September yearling sale "through the astute selection of Winchell Thoroughbreds farm manager and principal adviser David Fiske," Hernon recalled. "This gray son of Pulpit was one of the stars of Book 1 that year, bringing $625,000" and ranking as the second-highest lot by Pulpit to sell in 2002.

As a racehorse, Tapit was an unbeaten graded stakes winner at 2, then improved at 3 to win the Grade 1 Wood Memorial over a field that included Eddington and Value Plus, both of whom are now popular young sires in Kentucky.

Tapit was trained by the internationally famed horseman Michael Dickinson, who has since retired from training to devote all his time to racetrack surface development.

During the time Tapit was racing, Gainesway Farm president Antony Beck developed a close personal relationship with Ron Winchell, and when Tapit was ready to be retired, Beck was notified of the opportunity and dispatched Hernon on a mission.

"When I flew up to inspect Tapit on behalf of Gainesway, I was struck immediately by his quality and balance, and he looked the part of a stallion right away," Hernon said. "Antony, Ron, and I then arranged a deal to secure Tapit for stallion duty at Gainesway."

Winchell still holds significant interest in the syndicated horse, along with Gainesway and others.

One of the factors that drew Gainesway to Tapit, along with his racing ability, was sire power.

Coming from the important male line of Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew through Horse of the Year A.P. Indy, Tapit is by the important sire Pulpit, who is clearly one of the best sons of A.P. Indy at stud and perhaps the most promising young sire of sires in the country.

Among Pulpit's young stallion sons are Grade 1 winner Stroll, who has had eight winners, three stakes winners, and ranks eighth on the freshman sire list from his first crop of 32 foals; second-crop sire Sky Mesa, whose 3-year-olds include three stakes winners; the well-received young sire Purge, whose first foals are yearlings; the intriguing regional sires Oratory and Lydgate, also with their first yearlings available; and the first-season covering sire Corinthian, who won the inaugural Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile last October.

"From the first, Tapit has been a very popular stallion," Hernon said. "He is out of a stakes-winning mare by Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled and is from the immediate family of sires Relaunch and Rubiano.

"Tapit is a striking horse with presence. He was popular with his first crop, breeding 140 mares, and many of his mares get in foal on a single cover. He had success at the sales, with his first weanlings selling for up to $210,000 and with his first yearlings selling for up to $300,000. He puts an appealing type of horse on the ground and has been well-patronized each year at stud."

A $50,000 yearling at last year's September sale that sold out of Book 5 as Hip No. 3117, Stardom Bound resold for OBS March for $375,000, after breezing three-eighths in 33.60 seconds for a BreezeFig of 60, with a stride length of 24.41 feet. The average stride length for fillies at the sale was 23.9.

Bob Fierro of DataTrack International said that Stardom Bound "had one of the top two figs for fillies at the distance at any sale this year, and she had the best overall profile."

To date, Tapit has had four winners in the United States and five out of the country. He ranks fourth on the freshman sire list and is the only freshman with a Grade 1 winner this year.

In addition to his sales yearlings, buyers also will have weanlings available this fall. A pretty weanling Tapit filly who is a half-sister to Art Princess, recently second in the Group 2 Cherry Hinton Stakes, is in the Fasig-Tipton November mixed sale.