Greatest Honour is a Tapit blueblood out of a half-sister to Belmont winners Jazil and Rags to Riches (Ryan Thompson/Coglianese Photos)
As a Tapit colt out of a half-sister to two Belmont S. (G1) winners, Greatest Honour has the third jewel of the Triple Crown written all over him. So it’s highly encouraging that he’s burst onto the Kentucky Derby (G1) trail with a stellar display as early as the Holy Bull (G3).
The Courtlandt Farms homebred became Tapit’s second major contender for the 2021 Derby, after Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) champion Essential Quality
. Tapit also has the promising Proxy, runner-up in the Lecomte (G3).
From the sire line of 1977 Triple Crown legend Seattle Slew, via his Hall of Fame son A.P. Indy and grandson Pulpit, Tapit has yet to sire a Kentucky Derby winner. And it took a disqualification – the demotion of Maximum Security in 2019 – for Tapit to get a Derby placing, when his son Tacitus was promoted to third.
Tapit himself was only ninth in Smarty Jones’s Derby (2004). Although Tapit is out of a mare by 1990 Derby champ Unbridled, he marked the third successive generation of frustration in the Run for the Roses for his male line. Sire Pulpit exited his fourth in 1997 with an injury. Grandsire A.P. Indy was scratched with a quarter-crack on the morning of the 1992 Derby, and his subsequent victory in the Belmont left a palpable what-might-have-been.
The Belmont has also been the happiest hunting ground for Tapit’s offspring. The nearly white patriarch has exerted an historic degree of influence, siring three winners of the “Test of the Champion” in Tonalist (2014), Creator (2016), and Tapwrit (2017). Four more Tapits have placed in the Belmont – Frosted (2015), Lani (2016), Hofburg (2018), and the aforementioned Tacitus.
Greatest Honour’s dam, Tiffany’s Honour, increases the Belmont quotient. Out of Broodmare of the Year Better Than Honour, Tiffany’s Honour is a half-sister to back-to-back Belmont winners, Jazil (2006) and the more memorable Rags to Riches (2007). By outdueling Curlin, Rags to Riches became the first filly to wear the carnations since Tanya (1905), who was preceded only by Ruthless (1867) in the inaugural Belmont.
The Rags to Riches angle is of particular interest here since she was by A.P. Indy. Thus Greatest Honour combines the top and bottom of her pedigree, as an A.P. Indy descendant from the same immediate family.
Tiffany’s Honour, like her half-brother Jazil, is by a Mr. Prospector-line stallion. While Jazil’s sire was Seeking the Gold, Tiffany’s Honour is by Street Cry, one of Godolphin’s best-ever Kentucky Derby hopes until ruled out by injury in 2001. Street Cry later developed into a premier older horse, running away with the 2002 Dubai World Cup (G1) and Stephen Foster H. (G1) at Churchill Downs.
At stud, Street Cry sired a Kentucky Derby-winning champion in Street Sense (sire of current hopeful Capo Kane
), but his legacy forever will be intertwined with his extraordinary daughters, Hall of Famer Zenyatta and Australian great Winx.
Street Cry is accordingly making a mark as a broodmare sire too, with 2019 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) champion Vino Rosso and last year’s Hollywood Derby hero Domestic Spending among top performers out of Street Cry mares. Perhaps that’s because Street Cry was out of a high-class mare himself – 1985 Irish Oaks (G1) winner Helen Street, by 1979 Epsom Derby conqueror Troy.
Better Than Honour nearly earned a Grade 1 laurel on the racetrack, missing by a head in the 1999 Acorn (G1). Her signature win came in the 1998 Demoiselle (G2), via the disqualification of Tutorial. But she doesn’t deserve an asterisk for that, since the interference Better Than Honour suffered likely cost her more than the nose margin of defeat. Finishing sixth in the Demoiselle was La Ville Rouge, who had beaten Better Than Honour in a sprint maiden at Belmont. If that name sounds familiar, La Ville Rouge became the dam of 2006 Derby legend Barbaro.
After producing her duo of Rags to Riches and Jazil, Better Than Honour had a shot at an incredible third straight Belmont winner. Her Japanese-based son, Casino Drive, dominated the 2008 Peter Pan (G2). Unfortunately, a bruised foot forced him to scratch from the Belmont. Considering that was the year Big Brown was pulled up and Da’ Tara sprang a 38-1 surprise, it’s tempting to wonder if Casino Drive could have won. As a son of the A.P. Indy stallion Mineshaft, he was a three-quarter brother to Rags to Riches. Another son of Better Than Honour, Man of Iron, captured the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Marathon for Aidan O’Brien.
Better Than Honour passed on the ability of her parents. By Canadian Hall of Famer and influential sire Deputy Minister, she is out of 1982 Kentucky Oaks (G1) victress Blush With Pride, herself a noted producer from an all-star family. Blush with Pride’s dam, Broodmare of the Year Best in Show, was a fount of quality with descendants spanning the globe – from such European stars as El Gran Senor and Spinning World, to American champions Aldebaran and Close Hatches (the dam of Tacitus), Australian celebrities like Redoute’s Choice, and two-time Japanese Horse of the Year Almond Eye.
Greatest Honour’s sixth dam, Late Date, was the champion handicap mare of 1935 when beating males in the Washington Park H. Late Date, who ran 112 times in her career, was by 1917 Belmont winner *Hourless and out of a mare by unbeaten Hall of Famer Colin, hero of the 1908 Belmont.
This is the family labeled 8-f, which has yet to deliver a Kentucky Derby winner. Given all of its rich history, that void ought to be filled sooner or later. If Greatest Honour can win the Derby trophy, he would wear the coveted roses not only for sire Tapit, but for his tail-female line as well.