Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders: Talented Tapiture

Tapiture is the new Kentucky Derby 2014 points leader with 22 following a sharp victory over Strong Mandate in the G3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

Tapiture horse

Tapiture passed his second graded test in the Southwest – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Tapiture, making his first start since Nov. 30, save all of the ground on or near the lead from the inside post and was 4-1/4 lengths clear at the wire. He received a 98 BSF.

I like the progression on the numbers scale from age 2 to 3 for Tapiture but I have my doubts about his ability to get ten panels. I am basing my opinion on his pedigree and headstrong nature. Sons of Tapit do not possess the stamina or mindset to handle classic distances. See pedigree profile below.

In sharp contrast to the winner, clear runner-up Strong Mandate raced in traffic before making a good looking wide middle move. He continued to travel wide and failed to keep a straight line in the lane. He should have gotten a ton out of the race and should move up in the Rebel.

Kendall’s Boy faded for the second time in as many two turn tries and drops off the list. He is still worth following in the sprint ranks.

Schoolofhardrocks (former exceptional eleven) worked 6f in 1:14.40 (4/9) at Santa Anita on Feb. 19. He is expected to return to the races “in a couple of weeks,” trainer David Hofmans said.

Purple Sky (former exceptional eleven) is entered in a 7.5f allowance race at Delta Downs on Feb. 22. The All Stall Jr. trainee disappointed in his final two juvenile starts and tries to get back on the winning track.

The next two big events on the Derby trail are the Fountain of Youth from Gulfstream Park and the Risen Star from Fair Grounds. Both will be run on Saturday, Feb. 22.

Saturday’s G2 Fountain of Youth Stakes is my featured play of the day at

Listen to my analysis of the Risen Star Stakes on the Fast Track radio show Saturday morning (10am ET).

Click on the names of each horse below (Top 5) to view their Horse Racing Nation profile page, which includes pedigree information, results, and video.

Jarrod Horak’s “Exceptional Eleven” Kentucky Derby 2014 Contenders

1. HONOR CODE (A.P. Indy – Serena’s Cat, by Storm Cat)Honor Code horse silks

Trainer: Shug McGaughey – Owner: Lane’s End Racing & Dell Ridge Farm

Latest Workout: 4f breeze in :49.71 (6/13) at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 19. “We walked him yesterday and jogged him this morning,” trainer Shug McGaughey offered. “He seems to be pretty good.”

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Made up more than 20-lengths in his career debut (Saratoga slop) to score by 4-1/2 lengths at 7f on 8-31 (89 BSF). He rallied to miss by a neck in the G1 Champagne on 10-5. McGaughey’s plan to skip the G1 BC Juvenile in favor of the G2 Remsen worked out well. He missed some training time due to bruising up his back ankles. He returned to the worktab Feb. 12.

2. STRONG MANDATE (Tiznow – Clear Mandate, by Deputy Minister)Strong Mandate silks

Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas – Owner: Baker & Mack

Derby Points (6)

Comments: Finished 5th in his Saratoga bow. He smartly graduated at 6.5f second time out and cruised in the G1 Hopeful at 7f (mud, sealed) on Sept. 2. He never got untracked in 7th place Champagne puzzler and shot to the front from the outside post and finished an improved 3rd in the BC Juvenile. He raced wide throughout and finished a clear 2nd in his sophomore bow, losing nothing in defeat in the G3 Southwest Stakes on Feb. 17.

3. CAIRO PRINCE (Pioneerof The Nile – Holy Bubbette, by Holy Bull)Cairo Prince silks

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin – Owner: Namcook Stables

Latest Workout: Breezed 4f in 48.75 (16/83) at Palm Meadows on Feb. 15. “It really went well; it went perfect. We were looking for :49 or :50 , and we got :48-and-3. He looked great doing it,” trainer McLaughlin said. “We’ll most likely work him every Saturday from now on, although we may take one Saturday off, because there are a lot of Saturdays between now and March 29.”

Derby Points (14)

Comments: Won his first two races including the G2 Nashua and just missed in a strange renewal of the Remsen. He dominated the G2 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 25. He returned to the worktab Feb. 15 and is training up to the Florida Derby (March 29).

4. HAVANA (Dunkirk – Missy Turtle, by Kyle’s Our Man)Havana Silks

Trainer: Todd Pletcher – Owner: Taber, Magnier, and Smith

Derby Points (14)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:01.25 (3/9) at Palm Meadows on Feb. 17.

Comments: Went wire-to-wire in his Saratoga debut and earned a 102 BSF and held off Honor Code by a nose in the G1 Champagne (93 BSF) second time out. Stalked and pounced from post 13 in BC Juvenile but could not hold off New Year’s Day. From DRF: We’ve kind of consolidated three breezes here in 15 days,” said Pletcher on Tuesday. “Now, hopefully, he’s on schedule where we can kind of space them out every six or seven days.”

5. GOLD HAWK (Empire Maker – Caressing, by Honour and Glory)Gold Hawk silks

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC

Latest Workout: 4f in :49.80 (17/47) at Fair Grounds on Feb. 17.

Derby Points (2)

Comments: Debut stalk and pounce tally at Churchill Downs Nov. 30. Found his best stride late in a good looking entry level route win at Fair Grounds 12-27. He finished a better than appears 3rd in the Lecomte and could easily move forward in the Risen Star on Feb. 22.

6. CANDY BOY (Candy Ride – She’s an Eleven, by In Excess)Candy Boy silks

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: C R K Stable

Derby Points (10)

Comments: Got good late in his juvenile season, romping in a BHP maiden route and finishing 2nd to Shared Belief in the G1 CashCall Futurity. He started his 3yo season in fine fashion with a professional tally in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes. The SA Derby is his next scheduled start.

7. MIDNIGHT HAWK (Midnight Lute – Miss Wineshine, by Wolf Power)Midnight Hawk silks

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Mike Pegram

Latest Workout: 5f in :59.60 (6/61) at Santa Anita on Feb. 21.

Derby Points (12)

Comments: Ran his record to 2-for-2 in a prominent throughout G3 Sham triumph. The blinkers off helped him relax but his mind was wondering in the lane. He was a bit rank early and settled for the show in the G2 Robert Lewis Stakes. He has raw talent but still needs to develop mentally.

8. KRISTO (Distorted Humor – Capote’s Crown, by Capote)Kristo silks

Trainer: John Sadler – Owner: Hronis Racing LLC.

Latest Workout: 6f in 1:13 (2/12) at Santa Anita on Feb. 17.

Derby Points (4)

Comments: Finished 2nd in his first two sprint starts as the beaten favorite at Del Mar & Santa Anita. He stretched out at the Great Race Place on 10-31 and romped by almost 7-lengths after battling on the pace under Rafael Bejarano. He fought Midnight Hawk throughout in the G3 Sham and was clearly second best. Joel Rosario will ride in the San Felipe.

9. TAPITURE (Tapit – Free Spin, by Olympio)Tapiture horse silks

Trainer: Steve Asmussen – Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC.

Derby Points (22)

Comments: Lost his first three starts including show finish in G3 Iroquois. Put it all together in last two starts with sharp graded wins in the Kentucky Jockey Club and Southwest Stakes. The Rebel is next on his docket.

10. INDIANAPOLIS (Medaglia d’Oro – Pretty N Smart, by Beau Genius)Indianapolis horse silks

Trainer: Bob Baffert – Owner: Magnier, Smith, and Tabor

Latest Workout: 6f bullet in 1:11.40 (1/14) at Santa Anita on Feb. 5.

Comments: Smartly ran his sprint record to 2-for-2 in the San Pablo for Baffert. He came down with a cough last week, which forced him to miss the G2 San Vicente at 7f on Feb. 16.

11. NOBLE CORNERSTONE (Noble Causeway – Besige, by Polish Numbers)Noble Cornerstone silks

Trainer:  Wesley Ward – Owner: My Meadowview Farm

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.56 (4/10) at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 19.

Comments: Easy 6f maiden win in prominent throughout Aqueduct debut. He rallied for the place in the Springboard Mile to end his juvenile campaign. Kicked off his 3yo campaign in the G3 Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay on Feb. 1 but was very fractious in the gate and never got involved in a throwout race. There is no more time for mistakes.

Pedigree Spotlight: Tapiture

Tapiture’s sire Tapit (Pulpit – Tap Your Heels, by Unbridled) won half of his six starts and earned more than $550k in 2003-04. He won the G1 Wood Memorial before finishing 9th in the Kentucky Derby. He is known for siring hard to handle, aggressive runners like Flashback, Hansen (9th in Kentucky Derby 2012), and Tapizar. Another son of Tapit, Normandy Invasion, finished 4th in last year’s Kentucky Derby.

tapiture breeding

Pulpit (A.P. Indy – Preach, by Mr. Prospector) had a short but productive 6-race career in 1997, beginning with a debut maiden win at Gulfstream Park in January.

Pulpit (1994-2012) captured an allowance race in Florida second time out, and followed that up with a win in the Fountain of Youth Stakes, a 2nd in the Florida Derby, and a victory in the Blue Grass Stakes. He chipped his knee during a 4th place finish in the Kentucky Derby and was subsequently retired.

A.P. Indy’s most successful son at stud, Pulpit was responsible for 42 graded stakes winners (11 Grade I winners), including 2010 Florida Derby winner and Kentucky Derby runner-up Ice Box.

Unfortunately, Pulpit died in his stall at Claiborne Farm at age 18 in late 2012.

Pulpit’s sire A.P. Indy won the G1 Hollywood Futurity in 1991 to end his juvenile season. In 1992, he captured the G2 San Rafael, G1 SA Derby, G2 Peter Pan, and G1 Belmont Stakes. He wrapped up his stellar career with a victory in the G1 BC Classic.

A.P. Indy is a son of Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, out of Secretariat mare Weekend Surprise. She was also the dam of 1990 Preakness winner Summer Squall.

Pulpit’s mother Preach (by Mr. Prospector) won the G1 Frizette as a juvenile in 1991. She won the Bourbonette Stakes to kick off her sophomore campaign, and placed in the G2 Prioress, G1 Test, Gallant Bloom, and Aladancer Stakes later that year.

Preach’s papa Mr. Prospector (by Raise a Native) won 7 of 14 starts including the Whirlaway and Gravesend Handicaps in 1974.

Legendary “Sire of sires” Mr. Prospector is one of the most influential horses in the history of thoroughbred racing, siring 181 stakes winners (47 Grade 1 or Group I winners) and 16 champions.

Tapiture’s dam Free Spin (Olympio – Spin n Win, by Private Account) captured 3 of 6 starts (2 allowance sprints) from 2001-04. She is also the dam of minor stakes winners Retap and Remit.

Olympio won 9 of 17 starts and banked more than $1.4 million on the racetrack, winning such races as the G2 Arkansas Derby, G1 Hollywood Derby, and G2 Malibu. He sired 30 stakes winners before his death at age 23 in 2011.

Tapiture will almost certainly have enough points to make the Derby gate. He is clearly talented and on the upswing but can a son of  Tapit successfully negotiate 10f on the first Saturday in May?

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