Another weekend of racing presented interested fans and attentive breeders with multiple major winners by leading sire Tapit (by Pulpit). The elegant and well-balanced gray stallion stands at Gainesway Farm, is book full at a stud fee of $150,000 live foal, and has major contenders for both the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby.
Among the 3-year-olds making a trip to the winner’s circle this weekend, Untapable won the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks, and Constitution upset all sorts of fancied applecarts in the Grade 1 Florida Derby to remain unbeaten in three starts. Perhaps slightly better known for his high-class fillies, Tapit has three sons aiming for the Derby this year: Constitution, Ring Weekend (Tampa Bay Derby), and Tapiture (Southwest Stakes; 2nd in the Rebel).
In addition to his fame and success as a stallion, Tapit has an interesting backstory.
Foaled in 2001, Tapit is out of the Unbridled mare Tap Your Heels, a half-sister to champion sprinter Rubiano (by Unbridled’s sire Fappiano). Tap Your Heels and Rubiano are out of Ruby Slippers, a daughter of English Triple Crown winner Nijinsky and the In Reality mare Moon Glitter.
Heronwood Farm bred Tap Your Heels in 1996, and bloodstock agent Reynolds Bell Jr. saw the filly “at Robert Courtney’s Crestfield Farm. We were out looking through prospects for the July sale, and Robert mentioned he had an Unbridled filly. We looked at her out in the field, and she wasn’t a real big filly. Was a little back at the knee.”
If Bell didn’t put Tap Your Heels at the top of his list, apparently nobody else did, either. At the 1997 Keeneland July sale, the filly was nearly friendless in the sales ring. Bell was sitting with longtime client Rich Santulli of Jayeff B Stable.
The previous fall, “Mr. Santulli and Claiborne Farm teamed up to keep Unbridled in the country when the Japanese were trying to buy him,” Bell recalled.
So Santulli was highly aware of yearlings by the Kentucky Derby winner, and when Tap Your Heels was “looking like she was going to bring about $75,000, he turned to me,” Bell recalled. “I said, ‘she’s going too cheap.’ He asked what I thought of her, and I told him that I hadn’t seen her at the sale but that I had seen her prior to the sale and that she had a great pedigree.”
So Santulli bid and bought the filly for $85,000.
Sent to Alan Goldberg for training, Tap Your Heels won the Hildene Stakes at 2, when she also ran fourth in the G2 Astarita and G3 Tempted Stakes at 2. The filly didn’t win after her first season, was bred at 4, and then culled from the Jayeff B broodmare band.
The mare’s first mate was the A.P. Indy stallion Pulpit because “we liked the horse and the cross with Unbridled and In Reality,” Bell noted, but in the annual review of the Jayeff B broodmare band, Tap Your Heels was selected for sale.
Bell noted that Jayeff B “selected a few to cull every year, and this was a young mare in foal for the first time on a cover to Pulpit.” So, selling her made financial sense. Tap Your Heels would be highly valued in the commercial market and would not be a “cull” in any breeding program not littered with champions, G1 winners, and the dams of such.
Not long before, a new client had approached Bell. He said, Wayne Oldenburg “wanted to get in the horse business and breed commercially. I told him that I was on retainer with Mr. Santulli, but this was a first-class family, and he paid $750,000 for Tap Your Heels” at the 2000 Keeneland November sale.
On February 27, 2001, the mare foaled Tapit.
Since Oldenburg Farms was formed as a commercial enterprise, they sold Tapit as a yearling, and David Fiske selected the handsome gray for the Winchell family and purchased him for $625,000 at the 2002 Keeneland September sale.
Two months later, Oldenburg Farms sold Tap Your Heels. In foal to the Storm Cat sire Forestry, the mare brought $900,000 from Nesco.
Tap Your Heels did not produce a live foal in 2003, then was barren in 2004. Since then, the mare hasn’t missed a year, producing only fillies until 2011. Her 3-year-old in an unnamed colt by Elusive Quality; the 2-year-old is an unnamed colt by Malibu Moon; and she has a yearling filly by Medaglia d’Oro. The Malibu Moon colt is consigned to the Keeneland April sale of 2-year-olds in training and worked a furlong on Thursday in :09 4/5.
With the success of their elder sibling Tapit, the daughters out of Tap Your Heels are guaranteed matings with good stallions, and there may be further success for the family from these young producers.
*The preceding post was published earlier this week at Paulick Report.