Tapit, who has spent three consecutive record-setting years atop the nation’s leading sire list, is laying the groundwork for a fourth. On Jan. 7 at Gulfstream Park a pair of newly minted homebred 3-year-old fillies won back-to-back races, giving Gainesway’s gray promising boosts to his chances.
First up was Gainesway’s homebred Taperge, who won a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight on the turf in only her second start. Trained by Chad Brown, Taperge, the 3-1 favorite in the field of 12, raced mid-pack early until jockey Javier Castellano urged her forward. Five wide entering the stretch turn, Taperge moved steadily from fourth, overtook the leaders, and won by a length.
Gainesway Thoroughbreds bred Taperge out of the stakes-winning Jeblar mare Jera, whom Gainesway purchased in foal to Eskendereya at the 2011 Keeneland November breeding stock sale for $150,000. Jera is also the dam of Grade 1-winning millionaire Jeranimo.
In the Ginger Brew Stakes, Phillips Racing’s Darby Dan homebred Bellavais opened her 2017 campaign with a hard-fought victory in the 7 1/2-furlong turf event. Trapped on the rail, Bellavais, ridden by John Velasquez, showed a deft turn of foot to improve her position until finding the slimmest of openings that the chestnut filly slipped through to tackle front-runner India Mantuana. Despite being the victim of an accidental whip slap across the nose, the Jimmy Toner trainee outgamed her rival by three-quarters of a length to post her first black-type win.
Bellavais’ dam, the stakes-winning Ghostzapper mare La Cloche, a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Winter Memories, is another from a long line of blue hen Darby Dan mares tracing to foundation mare Golden Trail.
Bellavais’ inbreeding to In Reality and Foggy Note is a combination found in seven other Tapit stakes winners, including graded winners Teen Pauline, Mohaymen, Concord Point, and Prospect Park.
Gainesway stallion To Honor and Serve (by Bernardini) also had a promising performance from his sophomore son State of Honor, who got the short end of a head-bob finish to Sonic Mule in the one-mile Mucho Macho Man Stakes at Gulfstream.
On the West Coast, Gainesway stallion Birdstone sired Blue Tone to score a wire-to-wire 1 1/4-length surprise in the 1 1/8-mile Grade 3 San Gabriel Stakes at Santa Anita. With his victory Blue Tone earned his seventh win in 25 starts and improved his earnings to $558,870 for his owners, Beverly Engelberg, Schroeder Farms, and Jan Steeper. He is trained by Robert Hess Jr. and was ridden by Kent Desormeaux.
Bred by Far View Stable in Kentucky, the 8-year-old gelding is out of the Cartwright mare Princess Cart.