Bloodlines: Tonalist Further Classic Proof for Tapit, A.P. Indy

by | 06.10.2014 | 8:38am
Tonalist after his Belmont Stakes triumph
In this most memorable of years for leading sire Tapit, the gray son of Pulpit gained further accolades on Saturday when his lightly raced son Tonalist won the classic Belmont Stakes at a mile and a half. Getting the lead in the shadow of the wire, Tonalist pipped his kinsman Commissioner (by A.P. Indy) in the Grade 1 stakes.Both this Belmont Stakes and this Triple Crown series have served to emphasize that A.P. Indy continues to exert the utmost influence on the classic Thoroughbred in North America. The Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome is by the Pulpit stallion Lucky Pulpit, and Tapit is Pulpit's best son at stud. In the Kentucky Derby, Commanding Curve (by A.P. Indy's son Master Command) was second, and Commissioner was second in the Belmont.Given the consistency of his produce and continuing rise in reputation, Tapit is well-nigh staring his glorious grandsire in the eye as a sire of the absolute first rank. The 13-year-old stands at Gainesway Farm outside Lexington for a fee of $150,000, which is 10 times the fee the Wood Memorial winner commanded when he went to stud in the balmy days of bloodstock breeding in 2005.Tapit, like his sire and grandsire, got winners from the start, and Tapit's first crop included champion juvenile filly Stardom Bound.

Few stallions, even very good stallions, become sires of consequence who will last and spread their influence through the years and generations. But A.P. Indy rose to that level. His first crop included Blue Grass Stakes winner Pulpit, who ran fourth in the Kentucky Derby, and subsequent crops included Horse of the Year Mineshaft and Preakness winner Bernardini, and Belmont Stakes winner Rags to Riches.

With these and other important sons and daughters, A.P. Indy became the most important American classic sire, and his sons and grandsons continue to prove the point.

That was not a given when he went to stud. Yes, A.P. Indy was a marvelously pedigreed horse. A son of Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, A.P. Indy was the highest-priced yearling of his crop and was out of the wonderful Secretariat mare Weekend Surprise. A.P. Indy won the Belmont Stakes and Breeders' Cup Classic, then was elected Horse of the Year. But lots of very nice racehorses do not consistently transmit their own excellence.

A.P. Indy did, and one of those who has taken the step up and more is his grandson Tapit. A really good racehorse who probably did not show the limits of his potential, Tapit is a leading sire who has shown the dimensions of his importance at stud. His stock run on all surfaces, make good 2-year-olds who mature to become good classic stock, and they have the scope and potential to become top older horses too. Typically, the Tapits prefer a mile or more, with a few, like Tonalist, showing the scope to rise in class as the races get longer.

A big colt who possesses a great length of stride, Tonalist ran second in his debut behind another son of Tapit, Matterhorn, who was eighth in the Belmont Stakes. Tonalist won his second start, and then in his 3-year-old debut, he was second again to another son of Tapit. This time is was Constitution, who went on to win the G1 Florida Derby before going to the sidelines.

Clearly, Tonalist is not as precocious as his sire, who was unbeaten at 2, and is more like his broodmare sire, Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Pleasant Colony, in size and in his pattern of maturation.

Tonalist was bred in Kentucky by Woodslane Farm. The farm is located in Virginia and is owned by Rene and Lauren Woolcott, who purchased the colt's dam Settling Mist for $800,000 in foal to Seeking the Gold at the 2007 Keeneland November sale. Patrick Lawley-Wakelin was their representative at the auction and signed for the mare, who was carrying her third foal at the time.

Tonalist is the mare's fifth foal and first stakes winner. The 17-hand colt became a stakes winner in his first attempt, the Peter Pan Stakes in May, which was his prep for the Belmont, and my column on that race offers further information about Tonalist's illustrious female family.

The Woolcotts sent Tonalist through the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select yearling sale, where he was bought back at $195,000. Owner Robert “Shel” Evans acquired the colt privately shortly afterward.

Frank Mitchell is author of Racehorse Breeding Theories, as well as the book Great Breeders and Their Methods: The Hancocks. In addition to writing the column “Sires and Dams” inDaily Racing Form for nearly 15 years, he has contributed articles to Thoroughbred Daily News, Thoroughbred Times, Thoroughbred Record, International Thoroughbred, and other major publications. In addition, Frank is chief of biomechanics for DataTrack International and is a hands-on caretaker of his own broodmares and foals in central Kentucky. Check out Frank's lively Bloodstock in the Bluegrass blog.

Copyright © 2014, Frank Mitchell

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