Leading sire Tapit at Gainesway Farm in Lexington, Ky., on the morning of Aug. 4, 2016.

Leading sire Tapit at Gainesway Farm in Lexington, Ky., on the morning of Aug. 4, 2016.

Anne M. Eberhardt

Tapit Breaks Single-Season Earnings Mark

Son of Pulpit sets new earnings standard for third straight year.

The milestones in Tapit 's stud career have accumulated to the point where his own bar of success is his biggest hurdle. To that end, Gainesway's flagship stallion added one more legacy-enhancing achievement to his stockpile.

For the third consecutive season, Tapit has broken his own North American single-season progeny earnings record. The son of Pulpit began the day with progeny earnings of $18,371,097 and ended up surpassing his prior record total of $18,397,691 from 2015, when his son Divining Rod earned $100,000 for his runner-up finish in the $500,000 Cigar Mile Handicap (gr. I) Nov. 26.

The 15-year-old stallion first broke the earnings record in 2014, when he finished with a total of $16,813,536, besting the previous single-season mark of $14,358,570 established by Smart Strike in 2007.

Finding adjectives to properly describe Tapit's ongoing masterclass of a stud career is something that defies even his connections.

While he did have another classic winner this year in Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets (gr. I) hero Creator and a multiple grade I-winning presence in Frosted , Tapit continues to prove his breadth and depth when it comes to passing on his ability.

He can get you a grade I turf horse (Time and Motion and Ring Weekend), just as handily as he can a Triple Crown performer. In the ultimate testament to his progeny's precocity, Tapit's daughters Pretty City Dancer and Sweet Loretta finished in a dead-heat for victory in the Sept. 3 Spinaway Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga Race Course.

"I've stopped trying (to put him into words)," said David Fiske, manager of Winchell Thoroughbreds, which campaigned Tapit and retains a 50% share in the stallion. "Back-to-back-to-back leading sires—I think that has been done before. But I don't know that back-to-back-to-back broken records has been done. The versatility he has and everything else, I mean, you could subtract his turf earnings from his total ... and he'd still be the leading sire. Turf runners are like a hobby for him."

A grade I winner on the track, Tapit retired to Gainesway for his initial season at stud in 2005, entering the stallion ranks with a modest $15,000 fee and reasonable expectations of the kind of horse he would produce in those crucial first few crops. With his fee at $12,500 in 2008, Tapit began his ascent with an initial crop of runners that included 2008 champion juvenile filly Stardom Bound, grade I winner Laragh and future grade I heroine Careless Jewel.

Success tends to come in bunches for the gray stallion, and Saturday was no different. After Divining Rod finished second, Ring Weekend went on to capture the $200,000 Seabiscuit Handicap (gr. IIT) at Del Mar, and Tapit also had a wildly impressive maiden winner in Unique Bella, who won by 10 1/4 lengths on the Del Mar undercard. Unique Bella is the first winner out of Keeneland November's $3.8 million sale topper Unrivaled Belle, who is currently in foal to Tapit again.

"They can just run anywhere and everywhere," Fiske said of Tapit's progeny. 

With his commercial demand still at a peak even in polarized market, Tapit will again command an advertised fee of $300,000 for the 2017 season.