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America’s leading sire, Tapit, took over the 2015 Saratoga select yearling sale, with four of his first session yearlings bringing a gross of $4,350,000 for an average price that’s just a bit more than $1 million.

The sleek, silvery-gray son of Pulpit entered stud in 2005, and his chief claim to fame at the time was victory in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial. Such a victory was nothing to sneeze at, but with dozens of stallion prospects filling slots at farms around the Bluegrass, Tapit was somewhat overlooked.

What was the big deal, anyway? He wasn’t by Storm Cat.

Fifteen years ago, the best thing a stallion prospect could be was “sired by Storm Cat,” with a G1 victory or two on his race record.

For one thing, these sire prospects usually fit the Storm Cat type, which the sales market loved. A powerfully built horse himself with great length through the body, Storm Cat was a power horse who sired the same, and after he proved more than capable of getting winners at the highest level, breeders and buyers drove the market to prize the deep shoulders and massive quarters that were so distinctive in his stock.

In contrast, Tapit is a more balanced horse. On the medium side of large, Tapit and his sons or daughters generally have plenty of muscle, but they don’t look like weight lifters.

I well recall when inspecting foals nearly a decade ago, and Gainesway’s Michael Hernon told me how good the Tapit foals were and urged me to look at them. Right he was. They were smooth, elegant, and tightly muscled little athletes.

Then and now, the Tapit stock are full of activity. They are not dead on a shank when a handler leads them out of a stall to show or walks one up and down a show ring for the umpteenth time.

The stallion’s first foals looked like and acted like little racehorses, and size (wrongly) was the chief knock on Tapit’s early offspring. The foals look like foals, and the yearlings look like yearlings, not 2-year-olds before training.

Buyers and perhaps trainers have had to accustom themselves to the Tapit type, which is notably different from the Storm Cat type, but both are good.

There is a smoothness and quality to the Tapits that suggests a superior type of miler, and plenty can carry their innate speed around two turns.

For instance, Tapit’s son Tonalist won the Belmont Stakes and Jockey Club Gold Cup last year, and the stallion’s son Frosted won the Wood Memorial and then finished second behind American Pharoah in the Belmont Stakes this year.

The classic success of some of Tapit’s stock is important because nearly all of them have speed, that most important quality in top-class Thoroughbreds. But racing 10 and 12 furlongs effectively is a badge of honor and accomplishment that makes Tapit and his offspring much more desirable around the world.

And that was one of the things we saw in the buying at the first session of the Saratoga sale.

At the sale on Monday evening, four of the five lots sold, with only the filly, Hip 24 out of Wow Me Free, being bought back at $950,000. The session’s highest-priced lot went for $2 million to El Capi Racing, a partnership of Venezuelan investors, Hip 34 (out of Appealing Zophie) sold to a partnership of Americans for $1.2 million, and Hip 49 (out of Carriage Trade) was purchased by John Ferguson at $750,000 for Godolphin.

Godolphin, not incidentally, bred and races Frosted, who finished second, beaten a half-length by Texas Red, in the Jim Dandy as his prep for the G1 Travers, and when international racing operations purchase yearlings, they envision them going on to do the grandest things.

They also consider the big picture of breeding and the potential of sons and daughters of Tapit as breeding stock.

Important developments in this regard at the Saratoga sale include Hip 62, a fetching Medaglia d’Oro colt out of graded stakes winner Dancinginherdreams (by Tapit). The colt sold for $500,000 to Todd Quast, agent.

And two yearlings from the only American crop by Tapit’s champion son Hansen were consigned by Crestwood Farm for breeder Kendall Hansen. The filly out of Where Woody Bea (Hip 20) sold for $250,000 to Skychai Racing, and the colt out of Airizon (Hip 29) sold for $200,000 to West Point Thoroughbreds.

More important than the exact prices, both yearlings looked the part as quality racing prospects.

If Hansen’s first-crop performers, or the young racers by Tapit sons like Trappe Shot, Tapizar, and Flashback strike the top, then what we saw Monday night was only the tip of the iceberg in the demand for Tapit.

 

**The demand for yearlings by Tapit continued on Tuesday evening. The two-day results for the sire are below.

24 F TAPIT x WOW ME FREE WARRENDALE SALES AGENT III NOT SOLD ($950,000)

34 C TAPIT x APPEALING ZOPHIE DENALI STUD (CRAIG & HOLLY BANDOROFF) AGENT II BRIDLEWOOD FARM, ECLIPSE TB PARTNERS, ROBERT LAPENTA $1,200,000

49 C TAPIT x CARRIAGE TRADE HUNTER VALLEY FARM AGENT JOHN FERGUSON $750,000

51 C TAPIT x CHARMING LEGACY (IRE) WINTER QUARTER FARM AGENT HARTLEY/DE RENZO THOROUGHBREDS $400,000

70 C TAPIT x DRESS REHEARSAL (IRE) FOUR STAR SALES AGENT EL CAPI RACING LLC $2,000,000

156 F TAPIT x ITHINKISAWAPUDYCAT TAYLOR MADE SALES AGENCY AGENT XXI OUT

160 F TAPIT x PRINCESS ARABELLA LANE’S END AGENT CHEYENNE STABLES LLC $750,000

177 F TAPIT x ROSE OF KILLARNEY GAINESWAY AGENT IX NOT SOLD ($500,000)

182 C TAPIT x SAVVY SUPREME TAYLOR MADE SALES AGENCY AGENT LXVII AL SHAQAB RACING $700,000

197 C TAPIT x SOMETHINABOUTLAURA PARAMOUNT SALES AGENT IX CRUPI’S NEW CASTLE FARM INC $400,000

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