By Andrew Caulfield
Three-time champion sire Tapit has never been slow to reach important landmarks. In an unbeaten juvenile career, he followed up a wide-margin debut victory at Delaware with an eye-catching display in gaining his first stakes success in the GIII Laurel Futurity.
These efforts earned him 114 on the Experimental Free Handicap, and there was every reason to hope that a Pulpit colt with a dam by Unbridled would develop into an even better 3-year-old. While shin problems contributed to a disappointing effort on his first attempt at Grade I level, he bounced back to take the GI Wood Memorial.
With Tapit failing to reproduce his best in two subsequent starts, his fee was no higher than $15,000 when he covered his first mares at Gainesway in 2005. That placed him some way down the pecking order among the year’s freshman sires, which also included Smarty Jones at $100,000, Pleasantly Perfect and Speightstown at $40,000 and Medaglia d’Oro at $35,000.
However, his first weanlings certainly caught the eye, with 13 averaging $108,692, and Tapit justified this warm reception as soon as his progeny reached the track. Stardom Bound became his first Grade I winner–and first champion–when she reeled off victories in the GI Del Mar Debutante S., GI Oak Leaf S. and GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. With Laragh also enjoying Grade I success in the Hollywood Starlet S., Tapit recorded the first of his sires’ championships, topping the 2-year-old sires’ table in addition to being the leading first-crop sire.
It would be good to be able to say that Tapit’s stallion sons and broodmare daughters have been equally quick off the mark, but it wasn’t until Saturday’s GI Test S. that they finally notched up their first Grade I winner in the form of Concord Point’s daughter American Gal.
At this point I should quickly add that it is only the sons from Tapit’s first four crops which are old enough to have runners aged three or above. As these crops were sired when Tapit’s fee was at its lowest levels ($15,000 in his first two seasons and $12,500 in the next two), the pedigrees of these older sons are likely to be less illustrious than those of their younger counterparts.
I can’t say that this applies to Trappe Shot, as he is a half-brother to a GI winner and his third dam is that influential broodmare Lady Be Good. Although Trappe Shot just missed out on the title of Grade I winner, his first-crop yearlings sold very well for a $10,000 stallion, achieving an average of over $115,000. Trappe Shot has had his moments, with the GIII winners Wild Shot and Fish Trappe Road, the Blue Grass S. second My Man Sam and the useful Untrapped, but his fee was reduced to $7,500 this year.
The GI Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Tapizar has had less time to make an impact, as his eldest progeny are still only three. He ranks 10th on the TDN’s list of leading second-crop sires by cumulative earnings, thanks partly to the listed winners Tip Tap Tapizar and Tap It All and the graded-placed Zartera.
Both other sons with stakes winners are now residents of South Korea. The champion 2-year-old Hansen was always going to find it hard to establish himself, as his first three dams are daughters of Sir Cat, Highland Park and Temperence Hill and there was a distinct lack of stakes winners from his family. His best effort from his only American crop is Fast And Accurate, winner of the GIII Spiral S.
American Gal’s sire Concord Point was another who wasn’t going to find it easy, even if he enjoyed the patronage of his owner Kaleem Shah. Although he was a dual graded winner, his victories came in the GIII Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows and the GII West Virginia Derby over a mile and an eighth at Mountaineer Park. Unfortunately, he was side-lined after six races, before he could tackle Grade I company.
Consequently, he was priced at only $7,500 when he retired to Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms for the 2011 season. Despite the cheapness of his fee, the number of mares visiting Concord Point was never large, falling from an initial 72 in 2011 to 68, 53, 55 and 42 over the next four years. The nadir was reached last year, when Concord Point is credited with only five mares, so it is hardly surprising that the Koreans should be keen to add Concord Point to the popular Hansen.
Concord Point is credited with 165 foals of racing age, of which four have so far become black-type winners. American Gal is his first graded stakes winner and she now has the enviable record of four wins from six starts, her two defeats being her third in the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and her second to Abel Tasman in the GI Starlet S. Those defeats both came over 1 1/16 miles and American Gal appears to be much better suited by distances around seven furlongs.
American Story, the dam of American Gal, was once promoted to second in the GII Milady H. over 1 1/16 miles. Memories of American Story’s sire Ghostzapper tend to be dominated by his 2004 Horse of the Year achievements, which featured victories in the GI Woodward S. over a mile and an eighth and the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic over a mile and a quarter. Don’t forget, though, that he had won the GI Vosburgh S, over 6.5 furlongs the previous year and also took the Met Mile. Another of Ghostzapper’s daughters produced the GI Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Drefong to Speightstown.
Speightstown’s name also figures in American Gal’s family history. When he was mated to American Gal’s second dam Holiday Runner he sired the G1-winning sprinter Reynaldothewizard, a remarkable performer who was still winning at stakes level at the age of 11 earlier this year. Holiday Runner also twice enjoyed Grade I success with her Street Cry filly Seventh Street, so American Gal has a much stronger pedigree than might be expected of a daughter of a $7,500 stallion.