TDN Top Triple Crown Contenders


TACITUS (c, TapitClose Hatches, by First Defence)
O/B-Juddmonte Farms, Inc. (KY). T-Bill Mott. Lifetime Record: MGSW, 4-3-0-0, $653,000.
Last Start: GII Wood Memorial S., AQU, Apr. 6
Equineline PPs. KY Derby Points: 150.

As a Derby prospect, Tacitus brings a unique blend of patience (it might take him a mile to fully uncoil), aggression (he admirably fights for position when he has to, like on both the first turn and the stretch run of his GII Wood Memorial win), and stamina (by Tapit out of an Eclipse champion mare who excelled in dirt routes). Mott doesn’t generally gush about potential Derby prospects when they’re 2-year-olds, but he was on record as saying the colt might be the Classics threat to emerge from his barn. Is a body of four races enough to get Tacitus to the Derby winner’s circle? This gray has needed encouragement to stay engaged in his races, and firing from well off the pace in the 20-horse Derby can be a strategy that leaves even the best of horses at the mercy of traffic. Tacitus has also taken a path of lesser resistance to Louisville, as neither the GII Tampa Bay Derby nor the Wood Memorial drew A-list heavy hitters this year. Historically, only one horse has ever parlayed the Tampa/Kentucky Derbies (Street Sense). And it’s now nearly two decades since any Wood winner went on to capture the Kentucky Derby (Fusaichi Pegasus).