Tapiture defeated the D. Wayne Lukas-trained Strong Mandate in the G3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn today, and that’s a good entry point for discussing the colt’s fairly weak and speed-oriented pedigree.
Lukas may not know that Tapiture’s 3rd dam is Debs Angel, but he purchased and trained Debs Angel for Lee and Debi Lewis many moons ago. A daughter of Raise a Cup from Good Groomer, by Bold Bidder, Debs Angel was bought by Lukas from her breeders Paul and Raymond Tackett for $100,000 at the 1987 Keeneland September sale. She won eight of 33 starts and $233,734 for Lukas and the Lewises, including two minor stakes races, and ended her career at Oaklawn on February 23, 1991, winning a six-furlong allowance race. She was then retired and put in foal to the Lukas-trained champion Capote and sold by the Lewises for $190,000 at the 1991 Keeneland November sale, concluding a profitable venture for the owners.
David J. Fiske, the longtime farm manager for the late Verne H. Winchell’s Oakwind Farm, signed the ticket for Debs Angel, and Winchell bred the first six foals from the mare before selling her at the 1998 Keeneland November sale for $55,000 to Trackside Farm, in foal to Honour and Glory. The mare had been a terrific failure as a producer for Winchell, and she didn’t do anything for her subsequent owners, either. Trackside sold her open to Le Jardin in 2003 for $1,200, and Le Jardin, the farm of my friend and noted pedigree writer Frank Mitchell, bred her last foal, the Storm Boot filly Raise the Boot. Debs Angel had been empty for two years, so Frank did well to get her in foal, but Raise the Boot, who Frank sold as a yearling for $12,000, ended her career as a $4,000 claimer. In total, Debs Angel produced nine foals and eight winners, but none were stakes winners and of much account beyond the claiming level.
Debs Angel’s second foal was the filly Spin n Win, the first of her foals planned by Winchell. Spin n Win’s sire was the high-class Claiborne sire Private Account, but she only won a $32,000 maiden claimer in her second start over five and a half furlongs at Santa Anita and then a one-mile allowance on the Santa Anita turf—her only two wins from five starts. She is Tapiture’s 2nd dam.
Winchell bred the first five foals from Spin n Win—none of them stakes winners. Her first foal, Free Spin, was her best for Winchell. By homebred Grade 1 winner and millionaire Olympio, Free Spin won three of six starts at ages 3, 4, and 6 and was obviously compromised by soundness issues. She won a Hollywood maiden special at six and a half-furlongs on her debut at age 3 in 2001 and ended her lightly raced career in a $75,000 claimer in 2004. In between, she won two allowance sprints. In November of 2002, Verne H. Winchell, a terrifically successful breeder and owner who raced mostly with Ron McAnally in California, passed away at the age of 87 and the Winchell stable was taken over by his widow Joan and son Ron, who race as Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC—the breeder of Tapiture.
Two months before Winchell died in 2002, farm manager Fiske signed the ticket on a $625,000 Keeneland September yearling by Pulpit from Tap Your Heels, by Unbridled, bred and sold by Oldenburg Farms, LLC. That colt became Tapit, a winner of three of six starts, including the Grade 1 Wood Memorial. He ushered in the new era for Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC.
Tapit, naturally, was patronized by the Winchells at stud, and they have benefitted from the stallion’s rise to the elite ranks at Gainesway Farm. Among others, Winchell thoroughbreds LLC bred and raced Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Tapizar, who, like Tapiture, was trained by Steve Asmussen.
Tapiture’s dam Free Spin, who was sold to Argentina in 2012, has now produced three stakes winners by Tapit from a total of six foals in North America. Four of those foals were sired by Tapit and the other two were sired by The Cliff’s Edge and Corinthian. This, once again (Tapit’s Hansen was the best example of this), shows how potent Tapit is as a stallion—that he can get high-quality racehorses from relatively white-type pedigrees. But the sire also is best with his horses at up to a mile and an eighth.
Tapiture was impressive at Oaklawn today but his pedigree is awfully speedy for a mile and a quarter of the Kentucky Derby. But he’s an improving colt and will likely find enough improvement to remain a classics contender for a while—and perhaps he will even win a G1 race down the road to assure himself a chance at stud.