Laragh winning the Hollywood Starlet Stakes (gr. I)on Dec. 13.

Laragh winning the Hollywood Starlet Stakes (gr. I)on Dec. 13.


Laragh Should Be Dangerous in '09

Laragh ended the year with a grade I win and should be even stronger in 2009.

Natural speed and a reasonable pace are always a dangerous combination, as Laragh proved Dec. 13 in the Hollywood Starlet Stakes (gr. I). The filly, who races for IEAH Stables, Gary Tolchin, and Pegasus Holdings, scored by a measured length over Wynning Ride to tally her third win from six starts. Now a stakes winner over both synthetics and turf, Laragh will wait until next spring before discovering whether her form can translate to dirt as well.

Laragh’s victory added a nice flourish to the record of her sire, Tapit, who seems certain to finish the year as both leading freshman sire and leading sire of juveniles. As of December 17, Tapit leads Lion Heartin the freshman sire category by some $1.1 million, while his lead over Unbridled's Songon the juvenile sires list is over $700,000. Some very good stallions, among them Danzig and Alydar, have accomplished the leading freshman sire/leading juvenile sire double, so this is certainly a good omen for Tapit’s future.

Over half of Tapit’s $2,719,689 progeny earnings have been supplied by his daughter Stardom Bound, whose victory in the Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) boosted her bankroll to $1,420,600 and virtually assured her a title as champion juvenile filly. Tapit has been more than a one-horse sire, however. Laragh has done her bit, of course, and Tapit has 22 other winners from his 52 runners this season, three of which — War Echo, Retap, and Selective — have placed in graded stakes. (Interestingly, War Echo and Retap are closely related, as Retap is out of a mare by Olympio, whose half-sister Carol’s Wonder is War Echo’s granddam.)

Tapit himself showed ability as a juvenile, winning the Laurel Futurity (gr. III) at 2. At 3, he struggled with a lung infection in the early part of the season but rebounded with a solid win in the Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I), establishing himself among the favorites for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I). In the big race itself, however, the colt struggled home ninth, and he made only one more start before retiring to Gainesway with a record of three wins from six starts and earnings of $557,300.

On pedigree as well as race record, Tapit seemed a desirable stud prospect. He is a son of multiple grade II winner Pulpit, who has been two-time leading sire A.P. Indy’s best son at stud so far. Among Pulpit’s 38 stakes winners are grade I winners Corinthian, Rutherienne, Purge, Stroll, and Sky Mesa , in addition to Tapit. Sky Mesa has had a good year after a slower than expected start at stud and is the sire of seven 2008 stakes winners, headed by Frizette Stakes (gr. I) heroine Sky Diva. Sky Mesa currently holds a thin edge of less than $57,000 over Proud Citizenat the top of the second-crop sire list.

Tapit had equally promising credentials on the dam’s side. He is out of Tap Your Heels (by Unbridled), a stakes-winning half-sister to 1992 champion sprinter and useful sire Rubiano (by Unbridled’s sire Fappiano). Tap Your Heels and Rubiano, in turn, were produced from the Nijinsky II mare Ruby Slippers, a half-sister to another useful sire in Glitterman (by Dewan). The dam of Ruby Slippers and Glitterman, Moon Glitter, is a stakes-winning full sister to the first-rate sire Relaunch.

Whether Tapit will work with mares with Relaunch in their pedigrees is open to question, though on paper it seems a possibility provided that care is taken in selecting mares free of the common In Reality-line leg faults. Both of his grade I-winning daughters and all three of his stakes-placed runners are free of In Reality on the dam’s side, and Stardom Bound has a pedigree featuring a number of relatively uncommon strains including Tarr Road, Marfa, and Pocket Ruler (the sires of her first, second, and fourth dams, respectively).

Laragh, who was bred by Mike Ryan, is more fashionably bred. Her dam, Rose of Summer, is an unraced daughter of 2002 leading sire El Prado(IRE) and is a half-sister to Hollywood Futurity (gr. I) winner Siphonic (by Siphon (BRZ)) and listed stakes winner Mountain Girl (by Mountain Cat). The siblings’ dam, Cherokee Crossing (by 1988 Flamingo Stakes (gr. I) winner Cherokee Colony) is, in turn, a stakes-placed half-sister to multiple grade II winner Dixie Dot Com (by Dixie Brass) out of Sky Meadows, by 1982 Horse of the Year Conquistador Cielo.

Laragh is now a solid possibility for the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), a race in which she may cross paths with Stardom Bound. But she will get some well-earned time off to grow and develop first. If she can increase in mental maturity as well, that would also be a plus. To date, Laragh has set the pace in every one of her six starts; while she has had the natural speed to carry off this tactic as often as not, the ability to relax off the lead would be a major asset. Speed loose on the lead, is dangerous. If Laragh can add the ability to use her speed from any position, she will be even more so.