Tacitus has long been a fan favorite in the sport of horse racing. His grey coat was eye-catching, his performances in races like the Wood Memorial Stakes (G2) were promising, and his pedigree foreshadowed glory. If he is to win the $20 million Saudi Cup, Tacitus will undoubtedly rise to even higher esteem in the sport.
Early Life (2016 - 2017)
Many horses are born to dams who never raced or ran just a few times before becoming a broodmare, but not Tacitus. His dam Close Hatches was an incredible racehorse, known for winning five Grade 1 races in her career. Those Grade 1 victories included races like the Personal Ensign, Mother Goose, and Ogden Phipps Stakes. She even finished second in the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) and the 2014 Acorn Stakes (G1). Close Hatches was so good in 2014 that she was given the Eclipse Award for Champion Older Mare.
[Video: Watch Close Hatches (#1), dam of Tacitus, beat Princess of Sylmar and Beholder in the Ogden Phipps Stakes]
Once retired, she was bred to the iconic stallion Tapit. Tapit was no slouch on the racetrack, but really made a name for himself in the breeding shed as the sire of 25 G1 winners. The pairing of Close Hatches and Tapit produced Tacitus, who was born on February 21, 2016.
Like his dam Close Hatches, Tacitus was bred by the royal Juddmonte Farms. Juddmonte sent the young colt to the same trainer as his dam, Bill Mott.
Two Year Old Season & Kentucky Derby Preps (2018 - 2019)
The world had high hopes for Tacitus from the very beginning of his career. He debuted with Jose Ortiz in the irons on October 4, 2018 at Belmont Park. He finished fourth, but rebounded the following month to break his maiden at Aqueduct.
It was the last time Tacitus would race as a two-year old. The big colt was given four months to grow and improve before his next race, the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) in March of 2019. He certainly did not disappoint; the colt took command late in the stretch and didn’t give it up, awarding his supporters a nice $19.80 on a $2 win bet. He set a stakes record in the process, finishing the 1 1/16 mile race in 1:41.90.
"He's been a big, growthy colt all along, and when we were breezing him in the middle of the summer, he was just a big, laid-back horse,” trainer Bill Mott told BloodHorse. “We didn't know what we had until we got into the fall.”
[Video: Watch Tacitus (#10) win the Tampa Bay Derby, his first graded stakes race]
Tacitus followed up his first graded stakes victory with another win, this time in the Wood Memorial Stakes (G2). He took advantage of the fast pace set by Joevia and Not That Brady, easily overtaking the two frontrunners in the stretch and then gearing down to beat Tax in a battle to the wire.
The Triple Crown Races (2019)
Tacitus’ two strong performances in the Tampa Bay Derby and Wood Memorial drove bettors to make him the third-choice in the 2019 Kentucky Derby. The son of Tapit performed just as expected, settling near the back of the pack and then picking up horses in the stretch to cross the wire fourth. He was elevated to third place after the controversial disqualification of Maximum Security.
His connections chose not to run Tacitus in the Preakness Stakes, instead opting to give the horse a month to prepare for the Belmont Stakes. He entered the starting gates as the favorite, but wound up just a length short of triumph.
All in all, Tacitus hit the board in two of the year’s three Triple Crown races. Though he was defeated, it was certainly not in disgrace.
The Rest of Three-Year Old Season
Tacitus spent the rest of his three-year old season running in the biggest races for his age group. He first ran in the Jim Dandy Stakes (G2), where he was narrowly defeated by Tax. Jockey Jose Ortiz contributed Tacitus’ stumble at the start of the race to the loss. His connections took a new approach in the Travers Stakes (G1), adding blinkers that gave Tacitus early speed as opposed to his usual late running style. Still the Bill Mott trainee finished second, this time passed by Code of Honor in the stretch. Trainer Bill Mott was happy to see how Tacitus performed with the blinkers on, but noted that the race did not go exactly how he hoped it would. The speed horses in the race never really passed Tacitus, leaving Mucho Gusto and Tacitus to take turns on the lead.
Nevertheless, Tacitus had a good trip and was simply beaten by the better horse that day. "He got the rail trip and we had the rail on the second turn, but the winner came running," Mott explained to BloodHorse.. "I had one eye on the winner and one eye on mine. It looked like there was a good chance we were going to outduel Mucho Gusto, but the winner … he rolled by pretty fast.”
[Video: Watch Tacitus (#6) finish second in the Travers Stakes]
Tacitus’ final start of his three-year old season came in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1). It was the colt’s first time facing older horses, including Woodward Stakes (G1) winner Preservationist and eventual Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Vino Rosso. He would also be facing Code of Honor, the horse who defeated him in the Travers Stakes.
Mott kept the blinkers on Tacitus and this time he broke well. Jockey Jose Ortiz positioned his mount just off of pacesetter Vino Rosso. They were closely followed by Preservationist, and then by Code of Honor. Tacitus made his move on Vino Rosso as they headed into the far turn, but simply couldn’t pass him.
Code of Honor flew by Tacitus once more to battle with Vino Rosso, leaving the son of Close Hatches to finish third.
Next Up: The $20 Million Saudi Cup
Tacitus hasn’t raced since his third place finish in the Jockey Club Gold Cup in September, but the big colt recently landed in Saudi Arabia for his next important race: the Saudi Cup. Mott says the horse “couldn't be better”. He will be facing the likes of Maximum Security, Midnight Bisou, Mucho Gusto, and Mckinzie in this race that guarantees an exciting showdown.
Unfortunately, the colt’s regular jockey Jose Ortiz broke his wrist during a post parade at Gulfstream Park and won’t be able to ride Tacitus in the Saudi Cup. Mott has replaced Ortiz with Jose Lezcano, a jockey who has won in Saudi before.
Without his regular jockey and with some formidable foes in his way, Tacitus will certainly have to be on his A-game to win the Saudi Cup. Regardless, thousands of horse racing fans from around the world will be rooting for this colt. Will you?
Tune in to Fox Sports 1 on February 29th from 12 - 1 p.m. to watch the Saudi Cup!
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