Following another sensational weekend, Gainesway stallion Tapit continued to soar above all other North American sires as the runaway leader by stakes winners, black-type horses, graded stakes winners, and graded stakes horses.
Tacitus became Tapit’s sixth graded stakes winner of 2019 when he captured the G2 Tampa Bay Derby in stakes-record time on March 9. So far this year, the stallion is represented by a total of 10 stakes winners, 17 black-type horses, and 11 graded stakes horses.
Ridden by jockey Jose Ortiz, Tacitus covered the 1 1/16 mile Tampa Bay Derby in a swift 1:41.90, besting the 1:42.36 mark set by other Gainesway stallion Tapwrit in 2017.
“He’s been a big, growthy colt all along, and when we were breezing him in the middle of the summer, he was just a big, laid-back horse,” trainer Bill Mott told The Blood-Horse. “We didn’t know what we had until we got into the fall.”
It was the third career start for Tacitus, who broke his maiden in November 2018. The Juddmonte Farms homebred is now pointing to the G1 Kentucky Derby with career earnings of $253,000. He earned 50 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and now ranks fourth on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard.
“We’ve always liked this horse and thought he could be a horse that would be on the (Kentucky) Derby trail,” Mott said. “I liked him a lot better today at the three-eighths pole than I did at the five-eighths pole, because it looked like when he was trying to get between horses, I couldn’t tell if he was maybe fighting with the racetrack.
“He was climbing a little bit (in the Tampa Bay Derby), but once he got through between those horses, he really got some confidence and got some momentum,” Mott continued. “Jose said he actually finished with something left. He got to the lead and maybe started to dog it a little bit, but I thought it was a very good race and a very good education for him.”
Bred in Kentucky, Tacitus is out of five-time grade 1 winner Close Hatches, by First Defense.
Three-time leading stallion Tapit is the sire of 25 G1 stakes winners and 26 $1 million-plus yearlings. His other top runners of 2019 include Fair Grounds Handicap (G2) winner Synchrony; Marshua’s River (G3) winner Bellavais; Fasig-Tipton Hurricane Bertie S. (G3) winner Dream Pauline; Mineshaft Handicap (G3) winner Silver Dust; Betway Winter Derby S. (G3) winner Wissahickon; and impressive maiden winner Intrepid Heart, Tapit’s milestone 40th TDN Rising Star. Tapit stands for $225,000 at Gainesway.