North America’s all-time top sire by progeny earnings, Tapit has sired such champions as Horse of the Year Flightline and two-time Eclipse Award winner Essential Quality. But the venerable stallion is still looking for his first Kentucky Derby (G1) winner. 

It would be especially fitting for Tapit Trice to fill this lacuna on his sire’s resume. He is a homebred for Antony Beck’s Gainesway, where Tapit has stood throughout his record-breaking career at stud. And Tapit Trice’s mother (dam), Danzatrice, herself raced in the Gainesway Stable colors. 
A gray like his sire, Tapit Trice was a hot commodity as a yearling, selling to Mandy Pope’s Whisper Hill Farm for $1.3 million at Keeneland September. Yet he didn’t leave the Gainesway orbit altogether. Pope, a longtime Tapit supporter herself, partnered with Gainesway so that the farm still retained an interest in the colt. That partnership is now reaping the rewards, as Tapit Trice is giving his co-owners a major chance at their first Kentucky Derby trophy as well.
“I love Tapit, as everyone knows,” Pope told Keeneland publicity right after her purchase.
“This one was raised at Gainesway. I have a lot of faith in how they raise their horses and their horsemanship on the farm. I felt like the horse had a good beginning, a good foundation built into him.” 
The very name of Gainesway has iconic status in the Thoroughbred industry. It derives from the late John R. Gaines, who established a world-famous stud farm on property that he’d purchased from another legend of the sport, C.V. Whitney. Gaines is particularly remembered for his idea to create a single championship event showcasing all the divisions of racing – the Breeders’ Cup.
The Beck family, originally from South Africa, has built upon Gaines’s legacy at Gainesway. Antony’s father, the late Graham Beck, bought Gainesway in 1989. He would triple its size, to 1,500 acres, by acquiring the nearby farms that were likewise steeped in Whitney family history, Greentree Stud as well as the property owned by Marylou Whitney. 
Antony’s mother, the late Rhona Beck, adorned the landscape with so many trees that Gainesway is officially listed as an arboretum. Antony himself, who has served as Gainesway’s president since 1997, has further embellished the farm with gardens. You can get just a sense of its beauty from this 2016 video:
The elder Beck, an entrepreneur who made his fortune in coal mining, later developed an eponymous wine-making enterprise. His Graham Beck Brut NV was famously served at Nelson Mandela’s 1994 presidential inauguration. Beck likewise achieved success on the South African racing and breeding scene. It’s a measure of his stature that the Graham Beck S. (G3) is run in his honor every year at Turffontein in Johannesburg. 
Under both Graham and Antony, Gainesway Thoroughbreds has gone close twice in the Kentucky Derby. More recently, their co-owned Hot Rod Charlie was promoted to second in the 2021 edition. Back in 1995, Graham Beck was partners with Overbrook Farm and Bob and Beverly Lewis in champion Timber Country, who was third as the favorite to stablemate Thunder Gulch.
Interestingly, Tapit Trice’s pedigree connects the Beck and Gaines eras at Gainesway. His dam, Danzatrice, is out of Lady Pewitt, whose own parents reflect the Lewis/Gainesway affiliation. Lady Pewitt’s sire, champion sprinter Orientate, was bred by Gainesway and sold to the Lewises. Lady Pewitt’s dam, Spinning Room, was another purchase by the Lewises from a Gainesway consignment. 
Orientate came full circle to begin his stud career at his birthplace. A third-generation Gainesway stallion, Orientate is by Mt. Livermore, in turn a son of French star Blushing Groom, who represented Gaines’s policy of curating top European performers to stand in Kentucky. 
Danzatrice joined the Gainesway fold as a two-year-old in training. John Fort, acting on the farm’s behalf, scouted her out at the 2014 OBS April Sale and picked her up for $105,000. 
Initially trained by Cathal Lynch, Danzatrice won three of her first four starts, including a romp in the 2015 Parx Oaks. She next rallied for fourth in the Acorn (G1), but she was sidelined after a sixth in the Delaware Oaks (G3). Danzatrice made a triumphant return off a 15-month layoff for new trainer Steve Asmussen, and she would add two more stakes laurels – the 2016 Tiffany Lass S. at Fair Grounds and 2017 Iowa Distaff at Prairie Meadows. Her graded placing came in her finale, a closing third in the Groupie Doll (G3) at Ellis Park.
Retired with earnings of $312,145 from her 15-7-1-2 line, Danzatrice received a major pedigree boost when her half-sister Jaywalk became champion two-year-old filly of 2018. The next breeding season, 2019, Danzatrice was worthy of visiting the great patriarch Tapit.
Her foal arrived on Feb. 17, 2020, looking chestnut at first. Then the colt donned his gray coat with the passage of time.
From the start, Tapit Trice was a standout, as Gainesway’s general manager, Brian Graves, recalled.
“He was always one of the colts that we held in the highest regard from a very young age,” Graves said.
“He was an extremely leggy individual with a really long neck and a beautiful sloping shoulder.”

That elegant conformation was matched by an athletic stride. His combination of pedigree power and the right physical stamped him as just the type to command a lofty price in the sales ring. 
“He had a walk that was in the top 5% of what you would see in any year,” Graves noted. “We thought he was our best colt and had high expectations for him at the sale.”
Those hopes were put to the test, though, with a temporary – but spectacularly ill-timed – hiccup. The colt developed a foot abscess in the final days leading up to his Keeneland September appearance. After all the work and effort to come this far, would he be fit to show to prospective buyers, and sell?
“We had a worrisome few days,” Graves said.
But Tapit Trice came through and got sorted in time, with the help of a special support shoe. He showed like a true professional as high-profile players in the industry came to inspect him. Considering the ensuing bidding war, he’d more than passed muster.
Pope’s racing manager, Todd Quast, was among those who gave the Tapit-Danzatrice colt the highest marks. But Quast would have bowed out once bidding surpassed the $1 million threshold and kept climbing. Pope was the one determined to prevail, going over budget to secure him for $1.3 million.
“At the sale he found the eyes of top judges in the business,” Graves said. “When the smoke cleared Mandy Pope won at 1.3 million. When she approached us about staying in on the colt, we were excited to say YES.”
Well known for spending to acquire broodmares, Pope memorably went to $10 million for Horse of the Year Havre de Grace and $9.5 million for two-time champion Songbird. One of the prized members of her band, $2.2 million yearling purchase I’ll Take Charge, would go on to produce Pope’s 2022 Derby participant, Charge It (by Tapit, of course).
Tapit Trice was sent to Whisper Hill, north of Ocala, Florida, where he learned to accept saddle and rider in the educational process known as breaking. Once ready for the next grade level at school, he moved from the farm to the Whisper Hill Training Center to start galloping.
“When he came in, he was very workmanlike,” Quast said. “His breezes at an eighth (of a mile) and a quarter were normal.
“But when he got in competition, at three-eighths and a half, that’s when he showed his kick. He always had this long stride and covered a lot of ground.”

So highly regarded was Tapit Trice as an unraced two-year-old that the Whisper Hill team also bought his yearling full sister at the 2022 Keeneland September Sale. Pope got her for $1.1 million, exactly a year to the day after reaching for Tapit Trice.

“On the heels of what we were seeing with him,” Quast said of going back to buy the filly. “He was that impressive early on.”
Tapit Trice was earmarked for trainer Todd Pletcher. Although the Hall of Famer also trained a couple of the colt’s notable relatives – Danzatrice’s sire, Dunkirk, and maternal relation Mission Impazible – it was Tapit Trice’s own quality that suggested the assignment.
The colt is “a laid-back, cool customer,” Quast said. “He will train and train and do his job.”
That appetite for work made him the right candidate for Pletcher’s methodology.
“Todd likes to train them,” said Quast, who, like Pletcher, had worked for Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas. “He believes they run how the practice, so they practice. Certain horses can handle that, and he thrives on that. We felt like this horse fits his program.”
After posting his initial works at Whisper Hill, Tapit Trice joined Pletcher’s string at Belmont Park in the late summer of 2022. Connections anticipated that he’d excel over a route of ground, so they adopted a patient approach to wait for the longer maiden races.
An encouraging third in his Nov. 6 unveiling at Aqueduct, Tapit Trice came right back to win around the same one-turn mile Dec. 17. He raised his profile as a Derby hopeful in a Feb. 4 allowance at Gulfstream Park. His eight-length romp sparked discussion about whether he would have won the Holy Bull (G3) later on the card. 
Tapit Trice made his stakes and two-turn debut in the Tampa Bay Derby (G3), where he appeared to be going nowhere, but ultimately prevailed as the 1-2 favorite. He was more convincing in his final stepping stone, the Blue Grass (G1) at Keeneland, and boosted his Derby credentials.

“With a win in the Blue Grass behind him,” Graves said, “we are looking forward to his future, and dreaming about our chances in the Kentucky Derby.”
Quast revealed that Tapit Trice has flourished physically as the trail progressed. The colt has actually gained weight from prep to prep, a pattern continuing in the wake of the Blue Grass. If he remains on that path for the next few weeks, he could be sitting on an even bigger effort.
“He takes a little bit to get going,” Quast said of Tapit Trice’s running style, “but once he gets going, it’s scary how good he can be.”
@kentuckyderby Derby Horse, Tapit Trice, likes to feel the wind in his nostrils. #slowmo #kentuckyderby ♬ Run Boy Run Styles Trap - Vozdo Lab

Photo credits: pit Trice as a foal courtesy of Gainesway

Tapit Trice at Whisper Hill by Lee Guerrero

Tapit Trice in the Blue Grass by Coady Photography