The following post first appeared earlier this week at Paulick Report.
The death of the important sire Pulpit on Dec. 6 was a major loss to breeders and racehorse owners. Both as a racehorse and sire, the bold bay had served as a marker of coming changes in the breed, and his influence will continue to be felt for years to come.
One of the stars from the first crop by 1992 Horse of the Year A.P. Indy, Pulpit was unraced at 2 but came on strong very early at 3, when he won the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream, then ran a close second in the Florida Derby to Captain Bodgit.
Racing next at Keeneland, Pulpit won the Blue Grass Stakes as his prep for the Kentucky Derby, and the powerful bay ran a game fourth behind winner Silver Charm, Captain Bodgit, and Free House. A knee injury, perhaps begun during the running of the Derby, forced Pulpit to the sidelines and eventually into retirement.
Sent to stud at Claiborne Farm, where he was bred and raised, Pulpit became the first star stallion by his sire, and as such, Pulpit pointed the way for a major new branch of the Nasrullah/Bold Ruler line through Seattle Slew and A.P. Indy.
This male line is as closely associated with Claiborne as any other because A.B. “Bull” Hancock imported Nasrullah to the States, and Bold Ruler was raised at Claiborne for the Wheatley Stable of Gladys Mills Phipps, then stood his entire stud career there.
That legacy of success sent several sons from the line to stud at Claiborne, most notably Bold Ruler’s greatest son Secretariat, the broodmare sire of A.P. Indy. Claiborne also stood the Bold Ruler grandson Bold Reasoning, the sire of Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, and wanted to stand the near-black champion.
Perennial rival Spendthrift Farm managed to snare Seattle Slew, but Lane’s End Farm owner Will Farish co-bred Slew’s most important son in A.P. Indy, sold him at the Keeneland July sale for $2.9 million, then stood him at the relatively new stallion operation to begin two decades of success and a continuing legacy of breeding influence.
Trained by Neil Drysdale, A.P. Indy showed speed, stamina, courage, and versatility to win the Belmont Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Classic during his 3-year-old season, when he was named champion of his division and Horse of the Year.
As a classic winner with scope and classic quality, one of the first things that breeders chose to do in selecting mates for A.P. Indy was to send him quality mares with speed, and 20 years ago, that especially meant mares by Mr. Prospector.
Out of the Frizette Stakes winner Preach, Pulpit was among the first stakes winners bred on this successful cross, which also includes Horse of the Year Mineshaft, and year after year, from the Mr. Prospector line, as well as others across the spectrum of pedigrees, A.P. Indy got consistently top-class racehorses.
As A.P. Indy’s star rose ever higher, Pulpit began his stud career with a Grade 1 winner in his first crop, and the combination of pedigree, value, and high ability pushed Pulpit into the top ranks of American stallions too.
Looking back, it seems inevitable that Seattle Slew’s line through A.P. Indy would rise to preeminence in American racing, but at that time, there were many breeders and mavens of the pedigree world who said that the Bold Ruler line was old news.
The “old news” rewrote the headlines.
Especially as other sons of A.P. Indy began to succeed with top-class racers, the importance of A.P. Indy as a sire of stallions became obvious to all. Bernardini, Malibu Moon, Congrats, Mineshaft, and Flatter have all sired major performers at the highest level and rank as stallions of importance in Kentucky.
But just as Pulpit had been the trend setter as part of his sire’s first crop, then as a successful sire, Pulpit also became the first son of A.P. Indy with a world-class son at stud.
Out of the Unbridled mare Tap Your Heels, Tapit came from the third crop by Pulpit, and the gray was unbeaten at 2, then won the G1 Wood Memorial at 3. Tapit’s first crop of racers included champion filly Stardom Bound, and his son Hansen was champion 2-year-old colt of 2011 after a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Hansen will be at stud next season at Ashford, while Tapit’s son Tapizar will be at Gainesway and Trappe Shot at Claiborne (for his second season).
Pulpit’s other important sons at stud include Sky Mesa, Corinthian, Stroll, and Sightseeing, as well as the good young stallions Parading and Ice Box, who don’t yet have runners.
The continuing test of a stallion is getting premium racers, and Pulpit answered that question in spades, siring 11 G1 winners in the U.S., including the current 2-year-old G1 winner Power Broker and G2 winner Sign. They are among the stallion’s 10 graded winners in 2012.
From his mates of 2011, Pulpit has 57 foals of 2012, and he covered 59 mares this spring who will foal the sire’s last crop in 2013.