The following article first appeared at Paulick Report earlier this week.
As part of a wildly successful weekend for leading sire Tapit (by Pulpit), the gray Gainesway Farm stallion had the winners of three individual graded stakes for 3-year-olds on Saturday.
Honorable Dillon won the G2 Hutcheson Stakes at Gulfstream, and the lovely chestnut filly Tapicat won the G3 Florida Oaks over Tampa’s turf course. But surely the most impressive was Flashback, a gray full brother to Grade 1 winner Zazu who won the G2 Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita.
Like his talented sister, Flashback was bred in Kentucky by Bill Andrade and Michael Hernon. The Lewis winner is out of the Mr. Greeley mare Rhumb Line, whom Hernon purchased at auction in partnership and from whom he has bred three stakes winners and a group-placed horse.
“She was the first broodmare that I bought for myself,” Hernon said. “Although she didn’t gain black-type herself, Rhumb Line had real ability. She was stakes quality. She also ran well in the slop, just like Mr. Greeley, and I wouldn’t be worried if Flashback caught a wet track.”
Hernon had become “aware of Rhumb Line because we had purchased a share in the stallion for Gainesway, and when I saw her at the Fasig-Tipton sale, initially, she caught the eye with an imposing physique. She came to the sale as a maiden off the track from the Mill Ridge consignment, and I bought her. Then I put in Michael Narlinger and bred her to Officer because the Narlingers were standing Officer here at the time,” and that began the mare’s sequence of breedings at Gainesway, where all of her mates reside.
When the Narlingers decided to sell Officer and move him, Hernon said, “We collectively decided to sell Rhumb Line, and I decided to try to buy her through a third party. Bill Andrade, who had bred Careless Jewel in partnership with Gainesway, had said that he would be interested in participating in another mare. He came in on Rhumb Line, and we are co-breeders of Zazu and this colt.” The partners got the mare at the 2007 Keeneland January sale for $65,000 and subsequently sold Zazu for $100,000.
With the G1 successes of Zazu, the partners chose to sell the mare. In foal to Tapit, Rhumb Line sold at the 2011 Keeneland November sale to SF Bloodstock (Gavin Murphy) for $850,000. Boarded at Woods Edge Farm, she has a colt by Tapit and is back in foal to that stallion. The mare’s two foals following Zazu are also both stakes winners: Corinthian Jewel (Corinthian) and Flashback.
Flashback sold as a weanling for $260,000 at the 2010 Keeneland November, and he was a good, strong colt who vetted well and showed himself impressively. Hernon said, “He was scoped seven times at the barn prior to the sale, and the underbidder was Mick Doyle, a great judge of a horse whose vetting exam consisted of asking me: ‘Hey, Michael, is this colt OK?’ I’m delighted for Gary and Mary West and their agent Ben Glass. They are great supporters of the business, and it’s great to breed a nice horse whose best races are ahead of him.”
Ben Glass recalled purchasing the standout gray colt and said, “Zazu and the other stakes winner weren’t on the page when we bought Flashback, but he was such a special-looking colt that I thought I had to have him for the Wests. Zazu came on when he was a short yearling, and we got very lucky.”
Sent to Jeff Kirk in Ocala, Fla., for breaking and early training, Flashback progressed beautifully, grew and strengthened without incident, and in early May of last year, the colt flew to California and went into training with Bob Baffert.
Glass said that Flashback “has grown into a good-sized horse, and Bob zeroed in on him immediately as a really nice colt.” Flashback has proven the veteran classic trainer correct by leaping from an impressive maiden special victory to his success in the Lewis.
One of the strengths of Tapit as a stallion is that he can get top-class offspring from various bloodlines, as seen from the weekend’s top winners. Flashback is out of a Mr. Greeley mare (Mr. Prospector line through Gone West). Tapicat is out of a Storm Cat mare (Northern Dancer line), and Honorable Dillon is out of an Argentine mare by the Blushing Groom-line stallion Shy Tom.
The stallion can produce premium offspring from differing lines because of his versatile physical qualities and traits. Buyers were responsive to the quality and promise of the Tapit offspring from the first ones through the sales ring, and the better yearlings by the stallion nowadays bring élite prices.
Bred in Kentucky by Winchell Thoroughbreds and Gainesway Thoroughbreds, Tapicat was a $725,000 Keeneland September yearling. She is out of the winning Storm Cat mare Zealous Cat, and Tapicat’s third dam is Track Robbery, who was the 1982 Eclipse champion as older mare.
Honorable Dillon was bred in Kentucky by Robert Trussell Jr. and was a $100,000 sale at last year’s Fasig-Tipton March auction of 2-year-olds in training. The colt is out of the stakes-placed Shy Tom mare Shy Greeting, who is also the dam of the Argentine champion filly Forty Greeta.
This trio promise an exciting spring for their connections, as well as for breeders using Tapit, whose colt He’s Had Enough also finished third in the Lewis and had been a closing second in last season’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile behind divisional champion Shanghai Bobby.