All hail mighty Tapit! The king of American classic stallions sired his fourth winner of the Belmont Stakes when last season’s champion juvenile colt Essential Quality outran the game and good Hot Rod Charlie through the long stretch at Belmont Park to win the final classic of the 2021 season by a length and a quarter. It was another 11 1/4 lengths back of Hot Rod Charlie to last month’s Preakness Stakes winner Rombauer (Twirling Candy).
Now a winner in six of his seven starts, Essential Quality added his third Grade 1 to an outstanding resume. A medium-sized gray, Essential Quality joined the previous Belmont Stakes winners by Tapit: Tonalist (2014), Creator (2016), and Tapwrit (2017). In addition to these, the young sire Frosted was second in the Belmont Stakes of 2015 behind Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, and Tacitus was second in the 2019 Belmont. Also, Tiz the Law, a member of the first crop by the Tapit stallion Constitution, won the 2020 Belmont.
Last year’s Belmont, of course, will go into the record books with an asterisk because it was the first of the 2020 classics, and the classic was held at a distance other than 1 1/2 miles for the only time since 1925. A year later, Man o’ War’s son Crusader won the Belmont Stakes at 12 furlongs after years of renewals at a mile and three-eighths.
The dominance of the sons of Tapit at the international classic distance of a mile and a half by itself is a telling fact in the tale of Tapit’s importance to the breed. The Belmont Stakes is the sole dirt stakes in North America for 3-year-old colts at 12 furlongs, and that is the race upon which the three-time leading American sire has exerted such great influence.
Without making too much of it, Tapit is an unwavering source of stamina and classic quality for the breed, and a breeder can only wonder what the sire’s record might look like if North America had representative racing opportunities for horses of all types and aptitudes. At present, only sprinters and milers have proper opportunities to race and develop their talents; so it’s no wonder that the stallions who succeed most often in the States are milers and very robust sprinters.
For a stallion such as Tapit’s grandsire A.P. Indy to have raced and bred across the grain of the North American racing program and to have succeeded at the proportion and level he did is a tremendous accomplishment.
The proper cross for A.P. Indy was Mr. Prospector, the best domestic source of speed and classic quality aside from the Seattle Slew line of A.P. Indy himself, and Blue Grass Stakes winner Pulpit, an important sire in his own right, introduced quite a lot more speed into his own stock, including his fine son Tapit.
And Tapit himself does get horses with speed, but the majority of his sons and daughters also tend to show their best form at a mile and frequently farther. Many of them would also race effectively at much longer distances if a program of races (maidens, allowances, claiming, and stakes) were available to suit their needs.
Bred in Kentucky by Godolphin, Essential Quality is out of Delightful Quality, a daughter of the extremely fast miler Elusive Quality, from the Mr. Prospector line through Gone West. Delightful Quality is a half-sister to champion juvenile filly Folklore (Tiznow), and both are out of the Storm Cat mare Contrive. The third dam is by Metropolitan Handicap winner Fappiano (Mr. Prospector), and the fourth dam is by Metropolitan Handicap and Florida Derby winner In Reality, a sire of speed and quality.
This is a very fast, high-quality family that has returned to the championship level with the addition of Tapit, and now the family has added a new dimension with the classic success of Essential Quality.
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