By Andrew Caulfield
When a stallion proves his dominance by becoming champion sire on more than one occasion, is it safe to assume that he will develop into a noted sire of sires? The evidence over the last 60 years suggests it is, though have inevitably been a few exceptions.
During those 60 years we have seen Nasrullah notch up the last of his five American championships. Several of his stallion sons, such as Never Bend and Red God, made a lasting impact on the breed, with Bold Ruler proving even more dominant than his sire. This eight-time champion burned very brightly but comparatively briefly. His sons Raja Baba and What A Pleasure became champion sire and the title also fell to his great grandson Seattle Slew, who created the only lasting branch of this male line.
What A Pleasure and Exclusive Native, another two-time champion, didn’t really make their name as prolific sires of sires, though Exclusive Native gave us Affirmed. The next dual champion, Halo, made a huge impact elsewhere, with Sunday Silence and Southern Halo enjoying phenomenal success in Japan and Argentina respectively.
There could be few complaints about the next few multiple champion sires, with Mr Prospector, Danzig, Deputy Minister, Storm Cat and A.P. Indy all being responsible for plenty of successful stallion sons.
Smart Strike is also passing on his talent, with four sons, headed by Curlin and English Channel, siring Grade I winners. Giant’s Causeway has gone one better, as he has five sons with Grade I winners to their credit, with the Irish-based Shamardal being easily the most prolific.
So what does the future hold for Tapit, the champion sire of 2014, ’15 and ’16? The latest edition of the Blood-Horse Stallion Register already lists 17 stallion sons of the Gainesway star in the tail-male sire line chart for Nasrullah. Tapit has a lot to live up to, as his male line features several of the multiple champions mentioned earlier in this article, including Nasrullah, Bold Ruler and A.P. Indy.
It is worth reminding everyone that Tapit hasn’t always ranked among America’s highest-priced stallions. He started his stallion career in 2005 at $15,000 and spent his third and fourth seasons at $12,500. In other words, any son of Tapit born before 2010 was produced comparatively cheaply and therefore may not have the strength of bloodlines in the bottom half of their pedigrees which is evident in Tapit’s younger sons. A fine example was Hansen, whose first three dams were non-black-type daughters of Sir Cat, Highland Park and Temperence Hill.
Tapit’s younger sons include Flashback and He’s Had Enough, members of Tapit’s fifth crop, sired at $35,000, and Constitution, Tonalist, Anchor Down and Tapiture, who were sired at a fee of $50,000. Next come Frosted, who was sired at a fee of $80,000, and Cupid, a member of Tapit’s first $125,000 crop. They are likely to be joined by Tapit’s 2017 Belmont S. winner Tapwrit and ultimately by colts from Tapit’s four crops sired at $300,000, the eldest of which are 2-year-olds this year.
As things stand, four sons of Tapit have so far sired graded stakes winners, and these four–Tapizar, Concord Point, Trappe Shot and Hansen–all emerged from Tapit’s less expensive early crops. Of these four only Tapizar and Hansen were Grade I winners and Hansen and Concord Point have both been sold to Korea. Although Concord Point hit the Grade I target with American Gal, winner of last year’s Test S. and this year’s Humana Distaff S., it is left to Tapizar, winner of the GI Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, and Trappe Shot, winner of the GII True North H., to be the early flagbearers for Tapit. Next in line, with his first runners this year, is the Grade II winner Flashback, who started at a fee of $7,500 at Hill ‘n’ Dale. This year’s first-crop sires also include some interesting regional stallions, such as the New York-based Honorable Dillon, who started at $5,000 at Rockridge Stud, the Florida-based He’s Had Enough, who began at $5,000, and the Maryland-based Grade III winner Bandbox.
He’s Had Enough, who was beaten only a head by Shanghai Bobby in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, certainly caught the eye at this years 2-year-old sales, with colts selling for $485,000, $370,000 and $320,000. However, we will have to wait until this year’s yearling sales to see how the market reacts to the first yearlings by some of Tapit’s big hitters. Tonalist’s first weanlings sold for up to $260,000 and Constitution’s for up to $185,000. There will also be a lot of interest in Frosted’s first weanlings later in the year.
By then, Tapizar may well have added to his reputation. Although his first crop failed to produce a graded stakes winner, Tapizar drew attention to himself by siring as many as five colts– American Pastime, Mr Crow, Tip Tap Tapizar, Hollywood Handsome and Zartera–which have been placed at graded level (the first four have all finished second in a graded stake).
However, it has been Monomoy Girl, a filly from his second crop, who has been responsible for Tapizar’s breakthrough. This magnificent filly would be unbeaten in eight starts but for her neck defeat in the GII Golden Rod S. last November. Since then she has reeled off GI victories in the Ashland S., Kentucky Oaks and the Acorn S., to make herself a major candidate for divisional honors.
Monomoy Girl is out of a Henny Hughes mare, whereas it was a mare by Henny Hughes’s sire Hennessy who provided Tapit with his excellent daughter Careless Jewel, an 11-length winner of the GI Alabama S. over a mile and a quarter before taking the GII Cotillion S. Monomoy Girl therefore contributed to a very good day for admirers of Hennessy, who also ranks as the great-grandsire of Triple Crown hero Justify.