Tapit keeps finding higher bars to clear. For three consecutive years, he has broken the single-season earnings record for a North American-based sire while leading the continent’s general sire list — this, after coming out of the gate by establishing what was then an earnings record for a freshman sire. The sire of several champions and classic winners, he reached the $100 million mark in career earnings last season, doing so faster than many of his contemporaries.
The Gainesway resident now ranks among the most dominant sires in the history of the Belmont Stakes after his son Tapwrit’s victory in Saturday’s classic. He was Tapit’s third Belmont winner in four years, joining Tonalist (2014) and Creator (2016). Tapit finished second in the race the year he didn’t win with Frosted, who chased home Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. He also finished third last year with Lani.
Tapit is the only sire in the modern era to be represented by three Belmont Stakes winners — and one of just five stallions to sire three or more winners of the oldest American classic.
The great Lexington, America’s leading sire 16 times despite his stud career at Woodburn Farm being interrupted by the Civil War, holds the all-time record in the race. Lexington’s four Belmont Stakes winners came with General Duke in 1868, Kingfisher in 1870, Harry Bassett in 1871, and Duke of Magenta in 1878. Besides Tapit he’s the only other sire to win three editions of the race in four years.
Three other stallions have sired three Belmont winners. Lexington’s contemporary Australian, shipped to safe harbor in Illinois during the Civil War, won in 1872 with Joe Daniels, 1873 with Springbok, and 1879 with Spendthrift. Fair Play sired the great Man o’ War, who won the 1920 Belmont, along with 1924 winner Mad Play and 1927 winner Chance Shot. Man o’ War himself sired three Belmont winners in American Flag in 1925, Crusader in 1926, and Triple Crown winner War Admiral in 1937.
The feats of those four stallions came when the Thoroughbred breeding industry in America was entirely different than it is today. To achieve Tapit’s mark, his runners had to compete against exponentially larger foal crops sired by a larger number of stallions, due partially to an enhanced emphasis on commercial breeding, as well as the relative ease of shipping horses in modern times. To illustrate, Man o’ War sired 381 foals throughout his entire stud career. The busiest stallion in North America last year, Uncle Mo, covered 253 mares in 2016 alone as one of 1,423 active stallions on the continent, according to The Jockey Club’s Report of Mares Bred.