A few words about Pulpit, the Claiborne Farm homebred runner and stallion who has always been well-regarded but may need another look. With the Travers Stakes tomorrow, and three generations of Pulpit running in the same race, it’s a good time to consider the impact he’s made on Thoroughbred racing.
Pulpit was a stallion who threw versatile runners, winning races like the Belmont Derby (12 furlongs on grass), Forego Stakes (7 furlongs on dirt) and Florida Derby (9 furlongs on dirt). Pulpit never lead the general sire list, his best showing a ninth place finish in 2007, his progeny earning over $6.6 million that year. Pulpit has sired over forty graded stakes winners, a number that is very impressive, but falls dramatically short of the 82 for Giant’s Causeway, the best stallion of Pulpit’s generation, and is more in line with a stallion like Lemon Drop Kid, an excellent if unspectacular sire who has compiled 42 graded winners to date.
Why the second look at Pulpit? He has continued to have steady success after his way-too-soon passing in 2012, getting recent graded winners like Fiftyshadesofhay, Mr. Speaker, Lord Nelson and 2016 Travers entrant American Freedom. In addition, his sons have proven to be precocious sires on their own, and this is where Pulpit may ultimately have his greatest influence.
At the top of the list of sons by Pulpit has to be a member of his third-crop at stud, Tapit. Tapit was the first ranked stallion on the general sire list in 2015, 2014, and is on top again in 2016. He has one of the best runners in the world in Frosted, a Travers runner (and Belmont Stakes winner) in Creator, and graded/ group winners Cupid, Lani and Mohaymen. He is the sire of the promising Trappe Shot who in turn is the sire of My Man Sam, another Midsummer Derby entry from the Pulpit line. Tapit is represented on the 2016 first-crop sire list by sons Tapizar and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Hansen.
Lucky Pulpit has sired California Chrome, the highest Thoroughbred money winner of all time. Sky Mesa has sired two runners with over a million dollars in earnings. Claiborne Farm homebred Stroll has been a useful sire, getting five graded stakes winners and a Canadian champion two-year old. Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Corinthian sires excellent two-year olds and is very popular with mid-Atlantic breeders. Add in Power Broker, Mr. Speaker, Lord Nelson, American Freedom, and the future’s bright for sons of Pulpit.
Pulpit didn’t win the Travers, and none of his progeny, or theirs, have either. Frosted was third in 2015, Tonalist third in 2014, Pyro third in 2008, and you get the idea. Still, Tapit is having another incredible year, California Chrome is the leader in the clubhouse for Horse of the Year, and Pulpit himself is having a nice late career push. You’ve got three generations to choose from in the Midsummer Derby, and it may just be the family’s year. Enjoy the race everybody!