The 4-year-old Limato was one of the most intriguing horses in the Breeders’ Cup this year, not only because of what he has already accomplished as a multiple Group 1 winner but for what he appears to have the potential to do. A top world-class sprinter this season, Limato (by Tagula) has won the G1 July Cup over 6 furlongs at Newmarket and the 7 furlong Prix de la Foret at Chantilly, and he also finished second in the G1 Nunthorpe Stakes at York over 5 furlongs.
That is a lot of versatility for a top-end sprinter, some of whom are tied to a specific distance as effectively as a bird on a tether, and among Limato’s other traits is a moderate preference for quick ground. A fluent mover, such as Limato, is typically favored by better ground, on the faster side of “good,” while horses with rounder action tend to do better with ground that is on the soft side of “good.”
Limato looked very good getting over the ground at Chantilly in the Foret, run on the same card as the Arc de Triomphe, and the expectation is for him to appreciate the bounce in the going at Santa Anita, where the bay is entered to race in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, rather than either of the Sprint options.
There is precedent for sprinters to try the Mile, and the high-class sprinter Last Tycoon (Try My Best) won the Mile at Santa Anita. Like Limato, Try My Best was a sprinter with good pace who had a strong finish, rather than sprint racer who flamed from the start and lasted until his speed was burnt up.
Whether Limato succeeds in emulating Last Tycoon, the bay son of Tagula is exceptional example of a male line that is rare in the States these days. His sire Tagula is a grand-looking bay who was a G1 winner during his 2-year-old season, when he won the Prix Morny at the top level, as well as the July Stakes at the G3 tier. Tagula was also third in the G1 Dewhurst at 2 behind division leader Alhaarth.
In his second season, Tagula won only the G3 Supreme Stakes but still showed good form by finishing third in the G1 Poule d’Essai des Poulains behind Ashkalani.
Sent to stud, Tagula was so highly productive that his first crop made him leading freshman sire of 2000 in England and Ireland and a leading second-crop sire the following year.
So why haven’t you heard of Tagula in the same breath as Galileo? Because Limato is Tagula’s second winner at the top level, while Galileo is about two winners short of a billion G1 winners. [Galileo has 396 stakes horses, 233 stakes winners, 150 group stakes winners, and 62 G1 winners.] Today, Tagula stands at the Rathbarry Stud in Ireland for a fee of 4,000 euros.
Tagula’s other G1 winner is Canford Cliffs, a winner five times at the G1 level, including the Irish 2,000 Guineas, Queen Anne Stakes, and Sussex Stakes. Such was the reputation of Canford Cliffs as a fast and game performer that some even thought he would prove better than the year-younger Frankel in their confrontation in the Sussex Stakes. Canford Cliffs did not prove to be the better; Frankel remained unbeaten, but the very thought gives an indication of the other colt’s high class.
Tagula was one of two G1 winners by his sire Taufan (Stop the Music), who sired 23 stakes winners in a long career at stud. His was a very respectable career at stud because Taufan did not prove that he was an extraordinary racehorse. Stakes-placed from eight starts, Taufan sired horses who were generally longer lasting on the racecourse than their sire had proved, and in a few instances, Taufan sired racers who proved themselves at a much higher level than their sire.
Among the other things that can be said about Taufan is that he was working man’s stallion who proved a prolific sire of winners, that he was a striking yearling costing $102,000 at the 1978 Keeneland September sale (highest price of the year for his sire Stop the Music), and that he has proven a lasting link to one of the members of the great crop of 1970, which included Secretariat, Sham, Ancient Title, Allez France, Dahlia, Desert Vixen, La Prevoyante, and a wee little dark bay critter named Forego.
Stop the Music was actually one of the horses who fitted better in the second tier of this glittering group, along with Mr. Prospector, Shecky Greene, Angle Light, Linda’s Chief, Our Native, and some other really good racehorses.
On his best days, however, Stop the Music was quite a performer. The colt’s most famous moment came as a 2-year-old when Stop the Music took home the money and the hardware for the 1972 Champagne Stakes after Secretariat bonked him for getting in The Great One’s path to the finish line, thereby being disqualified.
Stop the Music also won the Saratoga Special at 2, the Dwyer at 3, placed second in the Travers, Vosburgh, and Metropolitan. A Greentree Stable homebred, Stop the Music went to stud at Greentree, where he proved much more than an average sire, getting Belmont Stakes winner and champion 3-year-old colt Temperence Hill (also G1 Travers, Suburban, Jockey Club Gold Cup), Dontstop Themusic (G1 Vanity and Spinster; 3rd Breeders’ Cup Distaff), Music Merci (G1 Del Mar Futurity), Cure the Blues (G1 Laurel Futurity), and Missy’s Mirage (G1 Hempstead and Shuvee) among 47 lifetime stakes winners.
Stop the Music was also the longest-lasting of the great crop of 1970. Sent to stand at neighboring Gainesway Farm after Greentree was purchased and absorbed into that famed operation, Stop the Music was a good sire and a tremendous farm favorite.
The grooms at the farm doted on the old boy, and after he was pensioned, Stop the Music lived in a paddock among the greenery at Gainesway. Such was his constitution and good care that he was 35 when euthanized on July 8, 2005.