The day before the Derby, the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) was won by Untapable, who like California Chrome is by a son of Pulpit from a family that has written more than a few headlines.
Despite their similarities, there are some distinct differences between the two pedigrees, however. To start with, California Chrome is by Lucky Pulpit, a minor stakes winner who was advertised to stand at a fee of $2,500 this year. On the other hand, Untapable is a daughter of Tapit, who won the Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I) in an abbreviated racing career, and who, after beginning his career at a modest fee has established himself as the most sought after dirt sire in the U.S. Currently at the head of the U.S. Sires’ list, Tapit has been represented by 48 stakes winners from his first six crops, 28 of them graded, with Untapable – who follows the Florida Derby (gr. I) winner Constitution as Tapit’s second grade one scorer from his current three-year-old crop – taking his total of winners at the highest level to 13. Meanwhile, on the distaff side, California Chrome is from a family that until the generations immediately prior to California Chrome, had enjoyed an almost unbroken trail of top-class production back to foundation mare Wanda, a foal of 1882, while Untapable is half-sister to a Kentucky Derby (gr. I) placed grade one scorer, and from a family that has been hot in recent years, having only relatively recent emerged from a record of extreme mediocrity.
Untapable’s family really exploded with her fifth dam, Brighton View, who also appears as the fifth dam of both On Fire Baby, who took the La Troienne Stakes (gr. I) on Oaks Day, and of Danza, who finished third to Californa Chrome in the Kentucky Derby, having won the Arkansas Derby (gr. I) on his previous start. A foal of 1962, Brighton View did little to suggest her long term impact during her racing career, as she won just once in 18 starts for earnings of $1,661. What’s more, she owned a pedigree which was obscure even in that era. By Tuscany (by The Rhymer, a son of the imported English horse, St. Germans), she was out of a mare by Fritz Maisel (a Domino line horse who appears in the pedigrees of stakes winners through only one other mare), with a second dam by Dartle (a horse who doesn’t seem to appear in any animal of note, other than through Brighton View, and who was a grandson of Jim Gaffney, who did sire Preakness winner Vigil, but is probably most famous as the sire of the upset Travers Stakes winner Jim Dandy).
Determining what factors caused the upgrading in the family from Brighton Ridge onwards is something of a guessing game, but she is interesting in having a considerable accumulation of “Old American” strains, which even at the time of her birth had been mostly pushed aside by imports such as Nasrullah, Bull Dog and Sir Gallahad III. Particularly striking is that her dam was inbred 4 x 4 to High Time (Leading Sire once and Leading Sire of Two-Year-Olds, three times), a horse who himself had the tremendously influential stallion, Domino, 3 x 4 x 2 in his pedigree, and she also has another cross of Domino’s great son, Commando (the grandsire of High Time). Meanwhile,Brighton View’s sire had three crosses of the great Domino line stallion, Peter Pan (by Commando).
Anyway, whether or not this created a latent genetic potential in Brighton View’s genotype, the fact is, the change she wrought in a direct female line which hadn’t produced a stakes winner for at least four generations, and had only one stakes winner (and that twice indented) in the first four dams, was truly remarkable. Brighton View’s very first foal was the dual stakes winner, Weekend Fun (a daughter of Nashver), who subsequently would become the dam, granddam, and third and fourth dam of stakes winners. Until recently, the most notable of these was her grandson the California Derby (gr. II) winner, All Thee Power, but she now figures as fourth dam of the previously mentioned Danza (granddam, a half-sister to All Thee Power). Weekend Fun was to be Brighton View’s only stakes winner, but three more of Brighton View’s daughters would go on to become stakes producers. Of these, the most important was Light Verse, an unraced daughter of the Turn-to horse, Reverse (who coincidentally is from the same Betty Derr/Uncle’s Lassie family as California Chrome and Swaps). Like her dam, Light Verse would throw a stakes winner at her first attempt, this being Al Stanza (by Al Hattab), who was exported to Europe,where she won the Princess Margaret Stakes, and was subsequently group placed in England and Germany. Al Stanza, Light Verse’s only stakes winner, never produced a black-type winner herself, but the family continued through Light Verse’s daughters River Chant (the third dam of On Fire Baby) and Carols Christmas.
A daughter of Whitsburg (by Crimson Satan, who significantly, in view of Brighton View’s pedigree, was a Domino line horse, whose sire, Spy Song, was inbred to Peter Pan). Carols Christmas won four times at three and four, but never earned black-type. However, at stud, she produced three stakes winners, headed by Olympio (by Naskra), winner of the Hollywood Derby (gr. I) and five other graded events, and Call Now (by Wild Again), heroine of the Del Mar Debutante Stakes (gr. III), and runner-up in the Oak Leaf Stakes (gr. I), and subsequently granddam of Tapit’s Breeder’s Cup Mile (gr. I) victor Tapizar. As had become the tradition of the family, several other of Carols Christmas’s daughters besides Call Now went on to become good producers. Christmas Star (by Star de Naskra, and therefore a three-parts-sister to Olympio) is dam of Experimental Free Handicap co-highweight Cuvee, and of the True North Handicap (gr. II) victor Will He Shine; Carol’s Wonder, a graded stakes placed daughter of the Al Hattab horse, Pass the Tab (and therefore a close relative to Al Stanza), produced the speedy and versatile multiple graded stakes winner Wild Wonder, and appears as the granddam of Pyro (by Pulpit), winner of the Forego Stakes (gr. I) and Louisiana Derby (gr. II), and of Tapit graded stakes winner War Echo; and the unraced Dana Nicole (by Flying Paster), is dam of the multiple graded stakes winning millionaire Bien Nicole.
It’s still another Carols Christmas daughter, however, that is granddam of Untapable. This is Bistra, a three-time winner by Classic Go Go (by the Australian-raced sire, Pago Pago). She produced four stakes horses, including Early Flyer, successful in the San Vicente Stakes (gr. II) and Lazaro Barrera Memorial Stakes (gr. III), and also runner-up in the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (gr. I), and Untapable’s dam, the Prized mare, Fun House. Fun House scored a grade stakes win in the Buena Vista Handicap (gr. II), and was three times graded stakes placed, and at stud has produced not only Untapable, but also El Prado’s son, Paddy O’Prado, a five-time stakes winner on grass, including the Secretariat Stakes (gr. I), and also second in the Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I), Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (gr. I) and third in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
Untapable is rated A++ by TrueNicks, but perhaps more interesting here is the success enjoyed when Tapit has been mated to descendents of Light Verse, either through the direct female line or, through mares by Olympia (a grandson of Light Verse). The combination of Tapit and Light Verse is so far found in 22 starters, 19 winners, nine stakes performers (41% stakes performers to starters), six stakes winners (27% stakes winners to starters), and four graded stakes winners (18% graded winners to starters), two of them grade one!