Bloodlines Presented By Mill Ridge Farm: Two Different Paths To The Same Destination For Sons Of Tapit

For his chronological 20th birthday, Tapit received the ultimate presents from his crop of 3-year-old colts: victories in a pair of trials that put Greatest Honour and Essential Quality at the top of nearly every Kentucky Derby list.

In the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream on Feb. 27, Greatest Honour powered to victory in a visually impressive effort against a field of speedy prospects; also on Saturday, last year’s champion juvenile colt, Essential Quality, made his 3-year-old debut, and the G3 Southwest Stakes became his fourth victory without a loss. Both colts had to overcome the typical hurdles of classic racing: pace, traffic, and weather.

Now the three-time leading sire in North America has a pair of top-quality prospects for the Kentucky Derby, and it’s all the sweeter because, despite having a trio of Belmont Stakes winners, Tapit has never gotten a winner of the Derby.

In part, that is the work of chance. The odds for any single horse to win the race are long, and even leading sires rarely get more than a single classic winner. Right now, for instance, Tapit is tied with Northern Dancer for Kentucky Derby winners with zero. (And yes, I realize many of the Northern Dancers went overseas.)

Bold Ruler and Mr. Prospector had only one Kentucky Derby winner each, although both of those sires regularly had top-tier sons who were contenders for the classics.

So, having two with the quality of Greatest Honour and Essential Quality in a single crop is special. It’s like having two barrels full of gold.

In addition to sharing a great sire, these two colts both were bred by their owners and share some other qualities that assist the colt’s chances in the coming classics. They have a sufficiently tractable nature that allows them to be placed somewhat in racing; they have finishing speed that makes them dangerous at any distance; and they have a dominant personality that makes them want to win.

They are not, however, identical by any means.

Greatest Honour is a bay, and Essential Quality is a gray. Those are superficial differences, but more importantly, each is his own type. Greatest Honour is a big, rangy colt who is clearly growing and strengthening; his best days are ahead of him, and both his trainer and jockey believe that distance is his friend.

In contrast to the colt who is only now coming to his proper form, Essential Quality is more typical of his famous sire in size and muscularity and is a much more finished racehorse. He won his first Grade 1 last fall in the Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland, and he won the divisional championship with a smooth and professional victory over Jackie’s Warrior and others in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, the colt’s second Grade 1.

The bay Greatest Honour looks more powerful in forecasting what he should be able to do, compared to what he can do now, and is the sort of colt who promises to become a genuine classic colt. The greatest barrier to that may be his paternal half-brother, Essential Quality, whose greatest asset is his speed and ability to quicken away from his competition.

Along with contrasting physiques, these two colts also have some differences in their families. Greatest Honour is out of a mare by Street Cry, whose son Street Sense won the Kentucky Derby, and that mare is a half-sister to a pair of Belmont Stakes winners: Rags to Riches (A.P. Indy) and Jazil (Seeking the Gold). This is about as stamina-rich a pedigree as we can find in America.

There can be no doubt that Essential Quality has more speed in his family. His broodmare sire is the remarkably fast Elusive Quality, and the second dam is by Storm Cat, the third dam by Fappiano. Those are high-quality speed influences, and yet each of those sires had a classic winner. Essential Quality’s family breaks more toward the speed side of its heritage, however.

The dam of the champion juvenile colt is a stakes-placed half-sister to champion 2-year-old filly Folklore (Tiznow), and the third dam is a graded stakes winner whose speed and durability were her greatest assets. Yet even among the speed in this high-quality family of Essential Quality, there is evidence of stamina, including Japan’s champion Contrail (Deep Impact), who is out of a half-sister to the dam of Essential Quality.

In summary, the athleticism and competitiveness of these two colts make them serious classic contenders. Will those qualities help them play Alydar and Affirmed, or Easy Goer and Sunday Silence, through the Triple Crown season? The possibility of that is enough to quicken the pulse of any racing fan.

The post Bloodlines Presented By Mill Ridge Farm: Two Different Paths To The Same Destination For Sons Of Tapit appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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