06/07/2014 7:46PM

Tonalist gives Tapit his first classic winner as sire

Michael Amoruso
Tonalist, with owner Robert Evans in the Belmont winner's circle, gave Tapit his first classic victory as a sire.

Tonalist’s thrilling score in the Belmont Stakes ensured that the Triple Crown drought would continue into a 37th year, as California Chrome tired in the final sixteenth of the 1 1/2-mile classic to finish in a dead heat for fourth. The colt’s win also redirected the pedigree spotlight away from the compelling tale of California Chrome’s modest origins and back to the foundation of American Thoroughbred breeding – central Kentucky – and to that industry’s most successful young stallion.

Tonalist becomes the first classic winner for Gainesway sire Tapit, who stood for $150,000, the co-highest stud fee in North America this year along with War Front. The 13-year-old Grade 1-winning son of the late Claiborne Farm stalwart Pulpit – who also was the sire of California Chrome’s sire, Lucky Pulpit – is the runaway earnings leader among North American sires of 2014, moving past the $6 million mark after Tonalist’s big payday.

The Belmont result gives colts by Pulpit-sired stallions a clean sweep the Triple Crown this year and further enriches the growing legacy of Pulpit’s sire, the great 1992 Belmont winner and Lane’s End pensioner A.P. Indy – who, incidentally, also is the sire of valiant Belmont runner-up Commissioner.

::2014 BELMONT STAKES: Recap, video, chart, and more

Tapit has become one of the most sought after commercial stallions on the market because his runners succeed on any surface and in both sprints and routes. The one item missing from his résumé was a top-flight classic-distance horse, as his overall best dirt colt to date in terms of earnings – Hansen – maxed out at 1 1/16 miles. However, as Tapit’s stature has risen over the past several years, the stallion has increasingly been bred to elite broodmares, and by now the results easily justify his lofty stud fee, which will likely rise higher in 2015. Tapit also is the sire of the best 3-year-old filly in training, Kentucky Oaks winner Untapable.

Tonalist is the fifth foal out of the Pleasant Colony mare Settling Mist, who won only once from 19 starts. She has produced three other winners, but no stakes horses apart from Tonalist. Settling Mist’s female family, however, is replete with black type, as her dam – Tonalist’s second dam – is distinguished producer Toll Fee, by Topsider. Toll Fee was graded stakes-placed, but her daughters have produced such horses as champion Havre de Grace and $2 million-earning turf filly Riskaverse.

Toll Fee is a half-sister to champion Plugged Nickle, both out of the Buckpasser mare Toll Booth. Search back one more generation – to Tonalist’s fourth dam – and you arrive at blue hen Missy Baba, by My Babu, who founded a line that branches out to include such luminaries as Belmont winners A.P. Indy and Lemon Drop Kid, among many others.

Broodmare sire Pleasant Colony won the 1981 Kentucky Derby and Preakness for the Buckland Farm of Thomas Mellon Evans, the late father of Tonalist's owner Robert Evans. The eventual 3-year-old champion colt of 1981 saw his own bid for the Triple Crown end when he finished third to Summing in the Belmont. Other top runners out of Pleasant Colony’s daughters include Grade 1 winners Farda Amiga, Summer Colony, Pleasant Home, Cash Run, and Marsh Side.