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The Gainesway Farm stallion Tapit is one of the best stallions in the world, and he didn’t need a lot more good news after the positive performance of his son Tapiture in winning the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park on President’s Day.  But the handsome gray had a pair of important winners over the last weekend in February as well.

At the Fair Grounds in New Orléans, the stallion’s daughter Untapable was an impressive winner of the G3 Rachel Alexandra Stakes by 9 ½ lengths, and at Gulfstream Park, the 2013 classic contender Normandy Invasion set a new track record of 1:33.13 for a mile in his long-awaited comeback.

Less than 10 months ago, Normandy Invasion was shaping up as a challenger for the classics after closing nearly eight lengths to be a three-quarter-length second in the G1 Wood Memorial behind race favorite Verrazano. Normandy Invasion, a striking bay with scope and quality, trained well at Churchill Downs leading up to the Kentucky Derby and seemed to combine the prime factors of improving form and tactical speed in a way that made him a serious contender for the classic on the first Saturday in May. 

So it proved.

The lightly raced colt made an even better effort in the Kentucky Derby than he had in the Wood Memorial, holding a forward position early, taking a narrow lead by the mile pole, and then holding it in a pitched battle, before tiring to finish fourth. He was a length and a nose from second, although Derby winner Orb finished two and half lengths clear of his nearest pursuer.

Initially given time after the draining effort of competing in the Derby, Normandy Invasion had a foot abscess that extended his time away from racing, and owner Rick Porter of Fox Hill Farm commented after the Gulfstream allowance that “we thought giving him the year off after the injury was the right thing to do. It’s hard to give them that much time off, but it turned out better than we thought it could. You can see how much weight he put on.”

Bred in Kentucky by Betz, Kidder, Gainesway, Graves, D.J. Stable and Cole, Normandy Invasion sold for $230,000 at the 2012 Keeneland April sale of 2-year-olds in training.

Unlike Normandy Invasion, the two stakes stars for Tapit — Untapable and Tapiture — race for their breeder Winchell Stables LLC. Both the filly and the colt descend from stock that the Winchell family has owned for generations, and both dams are multiple stakes producers for the operation.

In the Southwest, Tapiture gave two pounds and a 4 1/4-length thrashing to the highly regarded Strong Mandate (Tiznow), and Tapiture is the third stakes winner out of his dam, the Olympio mare Free Spin.

A winner of $91,440 in six starts, Free Spin was clearly talented, and when matched with leading sire Tapit, she has produced stakes winners Retap, Remit, and Tapiture. Of these, the best is clearly the latter, who also won the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes last year at Churchill Downs.

Tapiture is one of 31 stakes winners out of Olympio mares, and one of the qualities that both Tapit and Olympio transmit is speed. Tapiture and his siblings have all shown good speed that allowed them to compete early and to take a competitive position in their races.

Olympio and his family have been a mainstay of the Winchell breeding program for decades, and Olympio’s dam, the Whitesburg mare Carols Christmas, is the third dam of Untapable. The filly’s second dam is Olympio’s half-sisters Bistra (Classic Go Go), and Untapable’s dam is the G2 stakes winner Fun House.

Fun House counted the Buena Vista Handicap among her five victories, with earnings of $432,922, and she already has produced G1 winner Paddy O’Prado (El Prado), who won the Secretariat Stakes, was second in the Blue Grass, and finished third in the Kentucky Derby. Paddy O’Prado, a sire at Spendthrift Farm whose first foals are yearlings, was the mare’s second foal, and Untapable was her sixth.

The winner of the 2013 Pocahontas Stakes at Churchill Downs and third in the G1 Hollywood Starlet, Untapable seems to be maturing well and adding strength to her speed and quality. Those will be valuable qualities as she develops and follows a path that will surely include the major spring prep races for fillies leading to the Kentucky Oaks.

Together, these young stars will help to keep Tapit’s name in the headlines during the coming weeks as the eyes of the racing public await the first classics, run the first week in May at Churchill Downs.

The preceding post was first published last week at Paulick Report.

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