A son of Tapit has never won the Kentucky Derby. Winners of the Wood Memorial haven't won the Kentucky Derby in years. These are two “curses” that Tacitus must break to be decorated with roses on Saturday.
Tacitus’ pedigree suggests racing royalty. His dam, Close Hatches, was the winner of five Gr.1 races. She was also the winner of two Gr.2 races and was an earner of over $2 million. Tapit is, of course, known for his ability to produce top performing horses.
When Tacitus was born on Feb. 21st, 2016, Juddmonte was so impressed with him that they decided to keep him. They sent him to trainer Bill Mott when he was old enough to begin training for a career on the racetrack.
It became clear as Tacitus matured that he would live up to his superb bloodlines. He made his debut on Oct. 4th, 2018 at Belmont Park, finishing fourth. One month later he successfully broke his maiden at Aqueduct and was ready for a step up in class.
Trainer Bill Mott sent his horse to Gr.2 South Tampa Bay Derby in March of 2019. Tacitus would be granted 50 points for the Kentucky Derby leaderboard if he were able to win. However, he would be fighting against horses such as Sir Winston, Win Win Win, and Dream Maker.
Tacitus was not the favorite going into the Tampa Bay Derby. In fact, that title went to fellow Kentucky Derby contender Win Win Win. Tacitus proved himself deserving of that title instead when he flew up the rail to win the race by one length over Outshine. His finishing time of 1:41.90 broke the stakes record.
In an interview for BloodHorse, manager of Juddmonte’s breeding operation Garrett O’Rourke had a lot of good things to say about Tacitus. "He has a lovely big, long stride, and everything came easy to him,” he said. “Early speed? No, but he is not the physical type nor bred to be that type”. Tacitus was aimed for the Gr.2 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct after his victory at Tampa Bay Downs. He was unsurprisingly the favorite, but would be facing off against 14-length maiden victor Hidden Scroll, Gr.3 Gotham Stakes winner Haikal, and Gr.3 Withers Stakes winner Tax.
Shortly after the start in the Wood, Tacitus was bumped and clipped heels with Overdeliver. He then bumped into Overdeliver once more as they went around the first turn. After some correction from jockey Jose Ortiz, Tacitus was able to settle in fourth on the backstretch. While Not That Brady and Joevia set a fast pace, Tacitus leisurely galloped along. Around the far turn he began to close in on the leaders and hooked up with Tax in the stretch. Tacitus proved himself the best by pulling away to win by 1 ¼ lengths.
The win granted Tacitus 100 points, guaranteeing him a spot in the Kentucky Derby. Jose Ortiz is set to ride him in the Derby. On April 28th, Tacitus breezed five furlongs in one minute flat, ranking 4/25. There is almost a guarantee of a muddy track on Kentucky Derby day and Tacitus has been galloping over it with no problems.
Tacitus will be just the fifth horse to even run in the Kentucky Derby for Juddmonte Farms. They, as well as trainer Bill Mott, have never won the Derby. They hope that he will finally be their winner. However, he has some things to overcome. A son of Tapit has never won the Kentucky Derby although many have tried. On top of this, the Wood Memorial has had a poor record as of late for producing Kentucky Derby winners (although it has produced 11 winners in the past, including 4 triple crown winners).
Tacitus has a royal pedigree and good looks to go with it. He will be breaking from post 8 with current odds of 10-1. For those who support him, a win from Tacitus means good money and broken curses.
They said that a Triple Crown would never be won again until American Pharoah broke that curse after 37 years. Three years later Justify broke Apollo’s Curse. “Curses” can be broken and Tacitus hopes to prove that a life granted by Tapit and a win in the Wood Memorial does not mean a Kentucky Derby cannot be won.
We will find out on Saturday if he will be the next horse to join this curse breaking streak.
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Sources: Equibase Youtube BloodHorse link in story