Kentucky Derby pedigree profile: Tapit Trice

March 13th, 2023

The 22-year-old stallion Tapit ranks among the most successful sires in North American racing history. He’s sired over 150 stakes winners, including four winners of the Belmont (G1). His progeny have earned nearly $200 million. He led all North American sires by progeny earnings three years in a row from 2014-16, and he’s sired acclaimed champions Flightline, Essential Quality, Untapable, Hansen, Stardom Bound, and Unique Bella.

Now Tapit’s up-and-coming son Tapit Trice has an opportunity to go where no son of Tapit has gone before: the Kentucky Derby (G1) winner’s circle. Powerful victories in the Tampa Bay Derby (G3) and Blue Grass (G1) vaulted Tapit Trice into the Kentucky Derby picture, which means it’s time to revisit the unanswered question of whether Tapit can sire a Derby winner.

Tapit Trice Pedigree
Tap Your Heels
Tapit Trice
Lady Pewitt

Tapit’s Derby frustrations began during his own racing career. A last-to-first triumph in the Wood Memorial (G1) stamped Tapit as the third choice to win the 2004 Kentucky Derby, but he struggled against tough competition over a sloppy track and settled for ninth place.

Since retiring to stud, Tapit has sired 13 Kentucky Derby starters, including at least one every year since 2012. But none have taken home top honors, even though Tapit’s roster of Derby starters includes eventual Belmont winners Creator (2016), Tapwrit (2017), and Essential Quality (2021).

For whatever reason, the Derby has proven challenging for sons of Tapit. The 1 1/2-mile Belmont contested five weeks later has been a much more successful target, though whether that’s due to its later date, its longer distance, or some other factor isn’t entirely clear. The lack of success by sons of Tapit in the Kentucky Derby might well be a statistical anomaly.

But the stats do place Tapit Trice in an interesting position, considering the bottom half of his pedigree is also geared toward success in the Belmont more than the Kentucky Derby.

Tapit Trice is the first winning foal produced by Danzatrice, winner of the Parx Oaks, Tiffany Lass S., and Iowa Distaff S. over distances from one mile and 70 yards to 1 1/16 miles. Danzatrice improved with maturity and secured a graded stakes placing in her final start, finishing third in the one-mile Groupie Doll (G3).

Similar can be said about Danzatrice’s sire, Dunkirk. Sold for $3.7 million as a yearling, the stoutly bred Dunkirk went unraced at age two, then parlayed a runner-up effort in the Florida Derby (G1) into a start in the Kentucky Derby, where he finished 11th. Dunkirk was still a work in progress at that point, but he put everything together in the final start of his career, gamely carving out the pace in the Belmont before hanging on for second place against eventual champion three-year-old male Summer Bird.

At stud, Dunkirk has fallen short of emulating Tapit while standing first in the U.S. and later in Japan. But his best runners have enjoyed success around the globe, often over route distances. Havana won the one-mile Champagne (G1) and finished second in the 1 1/16-mile Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), Leitone won the 2,400-meter El Derby (G1) in Chile, Camp Creek nabbed the 1 1/2-mile Breeders S. in Canada, and Leo Beyond won the 3,570-meter Illumination Jump S. and finished third in the 4,100-meter Nakayama Daishogai (G1) over hurdles in Japan.

Suffice to say, stamina shouldn’t be an issue for Tapit Trice. Perhaps he’ll break through as the first son of Tapit to win the Kentucky Derby, but if racing 1 1/4 miles on the first Saturday in May proves too sharp, tackling 1 1/2 miles in the Belmont five weeks later should be absolutely perfect.