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The leading sire in the country this year, the 13-year-old gray Tapit has gone from strength to strength with each crop of racing age. His first included champion juvenile filly Stardom Bound, and the current crop of 3-year-olds has this year’s Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist, as well as the star filly Untapable, winner of the Kentucky Oaks and Mother Goose.

The volume of the stallion’s stakes winners, which currently number 53, is good, but their quality is excellent, and that is the key factor in propelling a stallion into the top-level. As evidence of the quality of Tapit’s stock, his horses on the racetrack include more graded stakes winners and Grade 1 winners than the runners of any other sire this season.

Tapit currently has 12 stakes winners in 2014, and nine of those are graded stakes winners.

Since the graded stakes are endowed with most of the money in purses, it is natural that Tapit is the leading sire by earnings, which can be a relatively blunt instrument in gauging stallion success. Not so in this case, however, and Tapit’s stud fee in 2014 reflects the measure of his success.

The gray son of Pulpit and the Unbridled mare Tap Your Heels stood for $150,000 live foal at Gainesway Farm. The horse has stood his entire career at that farm, beginning with a stud fee of $15,000 as a first-year stallion in 2005.

Tapit was unbeaten at 2, then showed even better form at 3 when victorious in the G1 Wood Memorial, and many of his offspring follow a similar pattern in establishing their form. Nearly all the Tapits have speed, that most indispensable quality of a racehorse, and most can carry it an extended mile, which allows them to see out the trip even at the graded stakes level.

A good-sized horse whose height and balance place him near the midpoint of the breed, Tapit has been a positive force for quality, early maturity, soundness, class, and versatility. If there is a surface that the Tapits cannot race on, it surely has not been invented.

A survey of his performers’ success over the last month shows high-class performances over dirt, turf, and synthetic with racers age 2 through 5.

And with credentials like these, Tapit has gotten better books of mares each season, and this year, Horse of the Year Havre de Grace produced a filly by Tapit. Last year, Horse of the Year Zenyatta produced a colt by the leading sire.

Neither of those élite prospects is likely to go to the sales because their owners like to race, but the buyers at sales have become ever more attentive about buying Tapit’s sons and daughters. There are 47 yearlings by Tapit cataloged for the first four days of the Keeneland September sale, and some of them are guaranteed to light up the board in the sales pavilion.

The sales results from Keeneland September can be found here.