There are Grade 1 winners and then there are classic winners and Tonalist’s gritty victory in the Belmont Stakes filled out the last remaining hole in Tapit’s spectacular resume.
Tonalist is the first classic winner and 14th Grade 1 winner from six crops for Tapit, who already holds a nearly $2.7 million lead on the 2014 North American general sires list. The Gainesway Farm stallion now has three Grade 1 winners to his credit this season, including another 3-year-old colt in Florida Derby hero Constitution. Tonalist is one of only five starters by Tapit out of daughters of Pleasant Colony and he’s the first Grade 1 winner produced by the larger A.P. Indy-Pleasant Colony cross.
Classic winners A.P. Indy and Pleasant Colony both stood at Lane’s End Farm, which is also home to North America’s current leading sire of stakes winners, City Zip. The son of Carson City has been on quite a roll with four stakes winners since Memorial Day.
That afternoon his 3-year-old daughter Red Velvet won her stakes debut in the $100,000 Jersey Girl Stakes at Belmont Park. She’s out of a mare by Honour and Glory who, like City Zip’s dam, is by Relaunch. That makes her the eighth black-type winner (from 197 starters or 2.2%) that show a double of Relaunch within four generations.
Another City Zip 3-year-old filly, City by the Bay, earned her second stakes victory in the June 1 Seattle Handicap at Emerald Downs to stay unbeaten in three starts. Out of a mare by Glitterman, City by the Bay is inbred to Relaunch’s sire In Reality at 4×4.
Just five days later Palace, who is out of a mare by End Sweep, graduated to the Grade 2 level with a score in the True North Stakes at Belmont. The following afternoon, Sweet Emma Rose, who is out of a daughter of Deputy Minister, earned her first stakes victory in the Crank It Up Stakes at Monmouth Park. Those victories give City Zip 12 stakes winners for the year, three more than Tapit and Medaglia d’Oro.
The nine 2014 stakes winners by Medaglia d’Oro include Coffee Clique, winner of the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Distaff Turf Mile and the Just A Game Stakes (G1) on the Belmont Stakes undercard. The four-year-old filly is the Darley America stallion’s second new Grade 1 winner of the season after Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap victory by the gelding Lochte. He now has a total of 11 Grade 1 winners on his ledger. Out of mare by the Nijinsky II stallion Royal Academy, it’s surprising to note that Coffee Clique is the only stakes winner by Medaglia d’Oro out of a Nijinsky II-line mare to date.
Of the Medaglia d’Oro Grade 1 winners only four are males, but one of them, Warrior’s Reward, is the early headliner among the 2014 first-crop sires. The Spendthrift Farm stallion was represented by a trio of sparkling debut winners May 30.
Most impressive of all was Unbridled Reward, who is out of Unbridled Appeal, by Unbridled. She rolled to a 7 3/4 length win going 4 1/2 furlongs on the main track at Churchill Downs. A $330,000 purchase by owner John Oxley at the OBS March sale of selected 2-year-olds in training, Unbridled Reward is the most expensive juvenile by Warrior’s Reward.
About an hour earlier Warrior’s Reward’s first winner bounded down the stretch as Liatris, who is out of Miss Brickyard, by A.P. Indy, scored a 3 3/4-length debut victory over males in a 5-furlong maiden special on the dirt.
Another filly, Strawberry Baby, who is out of Kendall Hill, by Theatrical, completed the hat trick for her sire later that evening at Lone Star Park. She won by 2 3/4 lengths in a 5-furlong dash on the main oval.
That makes three starters and three winners by a combined 14 1/4 lengths out of mares by Mr. Prospector, Northern Dancer and Bold Ruler/Seattle Slew-line mares. Not a bad start at all for the first major son of Medaglia d’Oro with runners on the track.
The Relaunch-A.P. Indy cross has been sneaky good in recent years and two more stakes winners bred on this cross have emerged in late May and early June.
Tiz’naz earned his initial stakes victory in the Grover ‘Buddy’ Delp Memorial May 28 at Delaware Park. The 3-year-old colt is by the Spendthrift Farm Tiznow stallion Tiz Wonderful out of a mare by Pulpit, a son of A. P. Indy, who is the dam sire of Tiz Wonderful’s 2014 Grade 2 winner and Grade 1-placed Scherzinger.
Tiznow’s son Norumbega got up in the final strides to add the Grade 2 Brooklyn Invitational Stakes trophy to owner Stuart Janney’s crowded trophy case. He’s the third stakes winner from 15 starters on the Tiznow-A.P. Indy cross and Grade 1 winner Morning Line is among the others. Two more Relaunch sons, Honour and Glory and Tiznow’s sire, Cee’s Tizzy, have also sired graded winners out of A.P. Indy-line mares.
Matt O’Neil is a freelance writer and pedigree consultant based in Chicago. A former editor of Owner-Breeder International, his work has also appeared in numerous publications that include The Blood-Horse MarketWatch, The Florida Horse and Keeneland Magazine. He is currently marketing and social media coordinator for Adena Springs Farm and a partner in the fantasy horse racing game MyFantasyStable.com.