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2014 Belmont Stakes Contenders Pedigree Profile: Tonalist

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A Clement that runs (and runs) on the dirt!?! Say it isn't so!

I have like 4 of these cups. The drink is fruity, but delicious.
I have like 4 of these cups. The drink is fruity, but delicious.
USA TODAY Sports

Um, so this guy is immaculately bred. By one of the hottest stallions in the world, and from a female family that is one of the cornerstones of racing, to include champions, stallions, and stakes winners. But maybe most interestingly is that Tonalist is actually a close relative of the great Havre De Grace. Both share the same 2nd Dam, Toll Fee

Tonalist, by Tapit, out of Settling Mist (Pleasant Colony)

Tapit, Tapit, Tapit. That seems to be all we hear about nowadays (at least between mentions of War Front.) I've gone into Tapit's dominance as a sire more than several times, however, he deserves every mention I can give him. From my profile of Untapable:

Tapit. Any questions? Frank Mitchell in the Paulick Report says it better than I ever could:

One of the strengths of Tapit as a stallion is that he can get top-class offspring from various bloodlines, as seen from the weekend’s top winners. Flashback is out of a Mr. Greeley mare (Mr. Prospector line through Gone West). Tapicat is out of a Storm Cat mare (Northern Dancer line), and Honorable Dillon is out of an Argentine mare by the Blushing Groom-line stallion Shy Tom.

The stallion can produce premium offspring from differing lines because of his versatile physical qualities and traits. Buyers were responsive to the quality and promise of the Tapit offspring from the first ones through the sales ring, and the better yearlings by the stallion nowadays bring elite prices.

In fact, Sid Fernando and I talked about the same thing on Twitter in that Tapit is remarkable due to the fact he can get top class runners out of nothing mares. Best example being Hansen, who is from a family that struggled to get winners let alone stakes horses. Truly Remarkable.

Remember this about Tapit: this crop of 3 year olds is the first crop of truly top class broodmares that he bred, outside of Winchell mares, of course. Tonalist is one of the first examples where you see a truly world-class pedigree in the dam's family. So the Tapits out there right now are truly just the crest of a wave of some pretty amazingly bred runners. So watch out.

But the most impressive part of Tonalist's pedigree is without question his female family. From the HdG Profile:

Granddam: Toll Fee. Topsider - Toll Booth (Buckpasser). Her record on the track was 39 Starts, 7 Wins, 6 Places, 10 Shows Career Earnings: $333,917. Her Ungraded stakes win came at 6f on the dirt. Buckpasser was a leading broodmare sire in 1983, 1984, and 1989 and is generally considered one of the best broodmare sires in recent memory. Toll Fee was an UnGr SW and was placed in a GII and GIII race. Her production record is once again ok. She has 10 foals, 4 of which were winners, though some of the records appear incomplete.

Great Granddam: Toll Booth (Reine-de-Course). Broodmare of the year in 1991. Buckpasser - Missy Baba (My Babu). Her record on the track was 22 Starts, 3 Wins, 3 Places, 5 Shows Career Earnings: $32,330. She has no stakes earnings in her career. The information on her races is not available at Equibase due to the fact that she is so old. Below are the results of her progeny:

Horse Sex Year Sire Record Earnings Stakes
BANKERS FAVORITE (USA) F 1979 LYPHARD 21-5-6-2 $70,470
CHICAGO BOUND (USA) H 1982 KEY TO THE MINT 28-6-2-2 $84,100
CHRISTIECAT (USA) M 1987 MAJESTIC LIGHT 35-11-7-6 $799,745 WIN - G3
COINS ONLY (USA) H 1981 LYPHARD 16-1-0-2 $11,090
IDLE GOSSIP (USA) F 1980 LYPHARD 21-5-6-3 $101,721 WIN - UNGR, PLACE G3
KEY TO THE BRIDGE (USA) M 1984 KEY TO THE MINT 21-7-3-2 $289,747 WIN - G3
PLUGGED NICKLE (USA) H 1977 KEY TO THE MINT 21-11-3-1 $647,206 WIN - G1x5
TOKEN FOUND (USA) F 1989 MR PROSPECTOR 1-0-0-0 $0
TOKENS ONLY (USA) F 1978 YOUTH 10-4-2-0 $50,455
TOLL FEE (USA) F 1985 TOPSIDER 39-7-6-10 $333,917 WIN - UNGR, PLACE G2
TOLL KEY (USA) H 1983 NODOUBLE 71-9-16-10 $290,210
TOLL PAID (USA) H 1990 ALYDAR 56-13-7-6 $197,587

Wow. Five stakes winners. 7 winners of 100k+. 12 foals and 11 winners. Amazing. That's alot of quality there. The great part is the durability of the foals (granted, it was a different era) and the fact that they were all successful on the track. Then the success is passed through most of her offspring: Key to the Bridge has 3 foals that won $200k; Idle Gossip has a 270k winner; Christiecat has a foal that won like a trillion Yen; Plugged Nickel became a respected stallion in South Africa. Very consistent pedigree in terms of producing winners. Very impressive.

Tonalist shares all of the quoted with the champion Havre de Grace. Their dams, who even have a similar race record, were not stakes runners themselves, but have shown themselves to be top class producers of big time runners. Time and time again, we see these remarkable female families produce runner after runner an while the actual black-type might skip a generation, it comes back, and comes back with vigor. It reinforces the points that if you can get your hands on a filly or mare from one of these cornerstone families, do it. Because even though that mare might not be a stakes horse herself, she's got the right genes in her to throw a huge runner. This family, the family of AP Indy (which is technically the same Uvira II family as Tonalist and HdG but is a slightly different branch), the Winchell family of mares I profiled with Untapable, the list goes on. But the incredible ability to get graded stakes runners eclipses any other influence I can think of (other than Galileo right now).

But the greatest question for the Belmont Stakes is always, "can he get the distance?" I don't know if Tapits really want anything longer than 9 furlongs, but I think he's got the backing of his pedigree to be able to make a run at it. I know it's early, but if anyone beats California Chrome, I think it might be Tonalist.

**Note, I reserve all rights to completely disavow making any prediction listed herein.