03/13/2017 9:56AM

Tapwrit working to recoup owners' $1.2 million investment

SV Photography
Tapwrit wins the Tampa Bay Derby on Saturday capturing 50 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby.

In August 2015, a colt by the continent’s leading sire and out of a Grade 1 winner stepped into the auction ring at Fasig-Tipton’s Humphrey S. Finney Sales Pavilion in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and brought the hammer down for $1.2 million at the company’s boutique Saratoga selected yearling sale.

A year and a half later, Tapwrit is slowly paying back his owners. The colt won the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby on Saturday to push his career record to 3 for 5 with earnings of $313,902. Already the winner of the Pulpit Stakes at Gulfstream and the runner-up to McCraken in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes, he essentially locked up a berth in the Kentucky Derby with the 50 qualifying points he earned for Saturday’s victory.

Tapwrit races for the partnership of Bridlewood Farm, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, and Robert LaPenta – all notable owners who teamed up for the lofty purchase price.

“He had everything we’re looking for,” Bridlewood general manager George Isaacs said of the purchase. “We knew we were going to have to bid big, so we partnered up with guys that we’re doing business with. Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners sends horses to Bridlewood to break and train, Robert LaPenta sends his horses to Bridlewood to break and train. It seemed like a nice, easy partnership.”

Tapwrit, who was consigned at Saratoga by Craig and Holly Bandoroff’s Denali Stud as agent, is out of the Successful Appeal mare Appealing Zophie. The mare’s biggest victory came in the Grade 1 Spinaway Stakes as a juvenile; she went on to win the Grade 3 Silverbulletday Stakes the following season. It is the extended family of Grade 1 winners Super May, Croeso, Slewpy, and Top Corsage.

The most recent horse who sold for seven figures at public auction and went on to take the Kentucky Derby (in 2000) is Fusaichi Pegasus, who lit the board for $4 million at the 1998 Keeneland July yearling sale, a record price for a Derby winner.

In the years since, the most expensive Derby winner (2016) sold at public auction was Nyquist. A successful pinhook, the colt changed hands for $180,000 as a weanling and $230,000 as a yearling before ultimately going to Dennis O’Neill, acting as bloodstock agent for owner Paul Reddam and trainer Doug O’Neill, for $400,000 at the 2015 Fasig-Tipton Florida sale of selected 2-year-olds in training.