Kentucky Derby 149 Early Impressions: Gainesway’s Brian Graves on Tapit Trice

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — TDN Senior Racing Editor Steve Sherack catches up with the connections of leading GI Kentucky Derby contenders to get their ‘Early Impressions.’

Whisper Hill Farm and Gainesway Stable’s ‘TDN Rising Star’ Tapit Trice (Tapit) brings a four-race winning streak to the Kentucky Derby off the heels of eye-catching, come-from-behind victories for Todd Pletcher in the GIII Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby and GI Toyota Blue Grass S. Antony Beck’s operation stayed in on the Gainesway-bred, stunning gray after registering a $1.3-million final bid from Mandy Pope’s outfit as a Keeneland September yearling.

“He was a horse that we had high hopes for at a very young age,” Gainesway’s General Manager Brian Graves said.

“He was one of those real leggy horses with a long neck and a beautiful, sloping shoulder. This horse came out looking good. He just always had this real sweeping walk, and the more time you spent around him as he grew up, you just had a feeling that he was one of your best colts, if not the best colt. It was obvious towards later in his yearling year that he was our best colt. We thought he was the one that would make a big splash at the sale.”

Did he ever. But not before causing some very anxious moments.

“About four days before the auction, he came in three-legged lame from his paddock one morning and he had a massive foot abscess,” Graves said.

“It actually took four of five days to resolve. It was a little scary. We had to dig the abscess out and we had to have a special shoe on him to support his foot for showing. Everything came around and a lot of top judges in the business found him. It came down to Repole Stables and Mandy, and Mandy won. And when the smoke cleared, she asked us if we’d like to stay in. We thought very highly of him the whole time and the answer was gonna be yes.”

Graves continued, “To have this success with her and share it is really special. She’s put so much into the business. Frankly, aside from Ron Winchell and Gainesway, she has put so much into Tapit. She’s bred to him more than anybody besides those two. She’s been his biggest fan and it’s just really nice to see her get rewarded.”

Tapit Trice’s MSW & GSP dam Danzatrice (Dunkirk), a $105,000 OBS Spring 2-year-old purchase by Gainesway in 2014, produced fillies by Tapit in 2021 and 2022. Whisper Hill Farm went to $1.1 million to acquire Tapit Trice’s full-sister at last year’s Keeneland September sale. Danzatrice, a half-sister to champion 2-year-old filly Jaywalk (Cross Traffic), is currently in foal to the Gainesway kingpin for a 2024 foal. Tapit Trice is her second offspring.

“Just to be associated with a homebred that has a very good chance in the Kentucky Derby and is already a Grade I winner, it’s why you do it,” Graves concluded. “We’re all excited about his future and dreaming about how great of a horse he could be.”

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