Essential Quality, a Tapit blueblood, comes from the family of Smarty Jones (Keeneland/Coady Photography)
Top sire Tapit, and global operation Godolphin, are still seeking an elusive first Kentucky Derby (G1) winner. Both could achieve the goal simultaneously courtesy of Essential Quality, who comes from the same female line as Smarty Jones.
Tapit has furnished Godolphin’s best Kentucky Derby result so far, the fourth-place effort by Frosted (2015) behind American Pharoah. Only one of Tapit’s progeny has placed in the Derby, Tacitus (2019), and he was elevated to third upon the disqualification of Maximum Security.
Yet Tapit has been a force in the Belmont S. (G1). By siring three winners of the Triple Crown’s third jewel – Tonalist (2014), Creator (2016), and Tapwrit (2017) – Tapit ranks as one of the most successful sires in Belmont history. He’s just one off the record of four set by the 19th century patriarch Lexington, and in a tie for second with *Australian, Fair Play, and his immortal son, Man o’ War. Tapit’s influence is extending to the next generation, with his son Constitution responsible for 2020 Belmont hero Tiz the Law.
That Belmont affinity harkens back to Tapit’s paternal grandsire, Hall of Famer A.P. Indy, winner of the “Test of the Champion” in 1992. Himself by 1977 Triple Crown champion Seattle Slew, A.P. Indy might well have emulated his sire with a classic sweep, if not for a quarter-crack that forced his scratch as the Derby favorite.
A.P. Indy sired a leading Derby contender in his first crop, Pulpit, who incurred an injury when fourth to Silver Charm in 1997. Pulpit’s son Tapit was ninth in his 2004 Derby attempt. The A.P. Indy sire line broke through in the 2013 Derby, through grandson Orb (by the A.P. Indy stallion Malibu Moon), and in 2014, a grandson of Pulpit struck – California Chrome.
If Essential Quality adds Tapit to the Derby sire’s honor roll, it would be an irony considering the maternal side of his pedigree. Essential Quality’s dam, Grade 3-placed Delightful Quality, is related to the champion who beat Tapit in that 2004 Derby, Smarty Jones. Delightful Quality and Smarty Jones are both by Elusive Quality and from the same immediate family.
Elusive Quality, as a scion of the Mr. Prospector male line, is adding to the abundance of “Mr. P” in Essential Quality. Both of Essential Quality’s parents are inbred to Mr. Prospector, who accordingly appears four times in his ancestry. Mr. P factors as the broodmare sire of Pulpit, and on Tapit’s dam’s side, through 1990 Derby victor Unbridled. Delightful Quality descends from Unbridled’s sire, Fappiano, on her dam’s side.
Aside from Smarty Jones, Elusive Quality’s other major sons include Quality Road, the favorite for the 2009 Derby before being sidelined, and Raven’s Pass, the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner. Elusive Quality’s daughters have produced such top sprinters as Roy H, Shamrock Rose, and No Nay Never, but several have stayed further, like 2020 Saratoga Oaks Invitational winner Antoinette.
Delightful Quality was a sprinter herself who placed in seven stakes, notably the 2013 Bed o’ Roses H. (G3) and the 2014 Correction, her career finale where she missed by a head. Her younger half-sister by A.P. Indy, Divided Attention, was likewise Grade 3-placed, but bowed out on a high note by romping in the 2015 Ladies H.
Their most famous half-sister is Folklore (by Tiznow), the champion 2-year-old filly of 2005. Clinching her Eclipse Award in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), Folklore also captured the Adirondack (G2) and the Matron (G1) in a 14-length rout.
Folklore is now the granddam of two-time Japanese champion Contrail, the reigning winner of his nation’s Triple Crown. After going unbeaten through the 2020 classics, Contrail was runner-up to supermare Almond Eye in the Nov. 29 Japan Cup (G1).
Delightful Quality and Folklore were produced by Contrive, a daughter of Storm Cat and multiple Grade 3 victress Jeano. By the influential Fappiano, Jeano won or placed in a total of 16 stakes during her 49-race career. Jeano is also the ancestress of 2009 Demoiselle (G2) winner Tizahit, the dam of Grade 1-winning millionaire Come Dancing, who finished fifth in the Nov. 7 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) the day after Essential Quality starred in the Juvenile (G1).
Jeano is out of Basie, heroine of the 1985 Delaware H. (G1). Basie’s dam, Stolen Base, is also the great-granddam of Smarty Jones, who remained perfect through romps in the Derby and Preakness. Nearly ending the Triple Crown drought in the 2004 Belmont, he was denied in the final yards by Birdstone.
Stolen Base is a descendant of the celebrated mare *La Troienne, progenitor of her own family designated as 1-x. Smarty Jones is one of a quartet of Derby winners tracing to La Troienne, along with Sea Hero (1993), Go for Gin (1994), and Super Saver (2010). Super Saver, Smarty Jones, and Essential Quality hail from the same branch of the family, via La Troienne’s daughter Baby League (by 1926 Kentucky Derby winner Bubbling Over), and her daughter in turn, Broodmare of the Year Striking.
Striking is a full sister to Hall of Fame racemare Busher, both by 1937 Triple Crown winner War Admiral. One high-profile mare inbred closely to Busher and Striking – via stallions in her pedigree, not her female line – is My Charmer, the dam of Seattle Slew.
A final fun fact: A.P. Indy, Storm Cat, and Elusive Quality’s sire, Gone West, are all out of mares by the great Secretariat. Thus the 1973 Triple Crown legend appears three times in the pedigree of the well-named Essential Quality.