Tapit's burgeoning list of top Triple Crown contenders continued to grow after Ring Weekend's sparkling display in Saturday's $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby (G2) at Tampa Bay Downs.
The chestnut sophomore, bred by Gainesway Thoroughbreds, turned in one of the best 3-year-old performances of 2014, taking the fight to the field right out of the gate, opening up some five lengths after six furlongs in 1:11.41, then had plenty left for the stretch run to win by three lengths while never being seriously threatened (VIDEO
The time for the 1 1/16-miles was 1:43.71 on a fast track, less than one second off the track record. Ring Weekend also earned 50 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby (G1).
"Coming out of the inside post I had to get him to start well, but when I got to the first turn it was like he got mad at me for not letting him run," winning jockey Daniel Centeno said. "He wasn't rank, he was just full of himself and I had to give him his head. I knew I was clear of the field and I didn't want to get run down and I was able to get him to relax and save something for the stretch. He was looking around getting into the stretch and I was getting concerned, but when he switched leads he just took off again."
Ring Weekend, owned by St. Elias Stable and West Point Thoroughbreds, earned $210,000 for the victory in his stakes debut effort. Overall, he has earned $255,660 with two wins, a second and two thirds.
Bred in Kentucky and out of the multiple stakes-placed mare Free the Magic, Ring Weekend was a $310,000 purchase by St. Elias and West Point from the 2012 Keeneland September yearling sale, where he was consigned by Gainesway.
Tapit's plethora of 3-year-olds with Triple Crown hopes include Coup de Grace, Constitution, Giancarlo, Hartford, Harpoon, Matterhorn, Tap it Rich. Tapiture, Tonalist.
Tapit is the nation's leading sire with over $2 million in progeny earnings to date, nearly $500,000 more than any other stallion.