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Pulpit: Farewell to Claiborne's Breed-Shaping Sire

December 6 brought the news that Pulpit, a leading commercial sire for almost a decade and a half, had died in his paddock. The 18-year-old stallion was bred by Claiborne Farm, raced in the Claiborne colors, and stood his entire stud career at the Paris, Ky., nursery.

A member of the first crop of A.P. Indy, Pulpit was in several ways a trend-setter for his sire. With his sire’s initial get being headlined by grade I-winning fillies, Pulpit—the only colt from that crop to win above grade III level—played an important role by underlining that A.P. Indy could also get a top-class male. Pulpit didn't actually win a stakes at the highest level, but after being unraced at 2, he established himself as one of the most exciting performers on the Triple Crown trail the following spring. The bay captured his first three starts, stamping his credentials as a Kentucky Derby (gr. I) candidate with a 1 1/2-length win in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II).

He was upset by Captain Bodgit, who he'd defeated in the Fountain of Youth, when odds-on for the Florida Derby (gr. I), but rebounded to take the Blue Grass Stakes (gr. II) by 3 1/2 lengths.

Third choice for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), Pulpit battled for the lead in the early stages, was in front at the three-quarters, but then faded gradually faded to take fourth behind Silver Charm, Captain Bodgit, and Free House. Subsequently, he was found to have suffered a career-ending injury.

Pulpit was also was also among the first horses to establish his sire as a premier cross for daughters of Mr. Prospector. Along with grade I-winning filly Tomisue's Delight and grade III-winning colt Accelerator, Pulpit was one of three first crop A.P. Indy stakes winners bred on the cross, and the direct A.P. Indy/Mr. Prospector cross (TrueNicks A), would eventually produce 21 stakes winners from only 101 starters, an astonishing strike-rate for a cross with that many opportunities, even given the quality of the stock in question.

Subsequently, Pulpit went on to lead the way in showing that the A.P. Indy/Mr. Prospector nick was also a sire-producing one, his example being followed by Malibu Moon (TrueNicks,SRO), Mineshaft (TrueNicks,SRO), Flatter (TrueNicks,SRO), Congrats (TrueNicks,SRO), and very successful South American sire Indy Dancer. Pulpit himself was tied (with Malibu Moon) as A.P. Indy's leading sire son by stakes winners, with 63, at the the time of his death. His best included grade I winners Pyro, Rutherienne, Corinthian (TrueNicks,SRO), Ice Box (TrueNicks,SRO), Purge (TrueNicks), Stroll (TrueNicks,SRO), Sky Mesa (TrueNicks,SRO), Tapit (TrueNicks,SRO), Mi Sueno, and Power Broker, who captured the the FrontRunner Stakes (gr. I) at 2 this year.

Pulpit has also led the way in extending his the A.P. Indy line. His young son Tapit is now one of the most in demand stallions in North America (his 2013 fee of $125,000 being second only to Bernardini (TrueNicks,SRO)), and is already represented by several sons who are in the early stages of, or about to commence, their stud careers, among them are Hansen (TrueNicks), Tapizar (TrueNicks,SRO), Concord Point (TrueNicks,SRO), and Trappe Shot (TrueNicks,SRO). Other Pulpit sons to sire grade I winners are Sky Mesa, Essence of Dubai, and Sightseeing, a promising young son who died in Chile just two days after his sire.

As a broodmare sire, Pulpit is responsible for the dams of 15 stakes winners, including grade I winner Karlovy Vary, and graded scorers Buenas Cosumbres, O'Prado Again, Newsdad, I'm Boundtoscore, and Clearly Foxy.

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Alan, Are you sure about the date of Pulpit's death?

eyeswatching 13 Dec 2012 4:04 PM

Thanks, eyeswatching. Should be December 6th. I fixed it in the story.

Ian Tapp 13 Dec 2012 4:50 PM

Pulpit done his sire AP.Indy proud and his son Tapit has went on to do the same with the promise of more good ones still to come from him and his offspring.

John T 13 Dec 2012 8:55 PM

When these stallions die like this (not during an active breeding "session" or directly afterwards that could,perhaps, bring on a coronary incident) are necropsy procedures performed?

CarolinaJude 14 Dec 2012 2:02 PM


Yes, they are, especially when required for insurance purposes.

Ian Tapp 14 Dec 2012 3:42 PM

I wonder if they will explain his cause of death. The great show jumper Hickstead collapsed and died after competing in a class but there were no signs of anything amiss before he died. From what I researched older stallions seems to be more prone to sudden cardiac death whether active or not and they can just collapse and die standing in the field, even a pleasure horse can go this way. A necropsy on Hickstead confirmed a ruptured aorta. It is so sudden and shocking, very sad.

Foxdale 14 Dec 2012 4:49 PM

will they try to buy a another stallion or two to replace him like a overseas stallion from japan

michael clifton 15 Dec 2012 7:08 PM

Why don't they just let horses retire at a certain age (15years) old and let them spend the rest of their lives in a pasture grazing and enjoying a much needed and deserved retirement.  That goes for the stallions and the mares. They should have a cut off age on breeding mares instead of breeding them to death. Give these poor creatures a break.

eyeswatching 15 Dec 2012 8:41 PM


You're implying that breeding involves mistreatment, which is inaccurate. Have you ever been to a farm like Claiborne and seen how stallions and mares live?

Ian Tapp 16 Dec 2012 12:11 PM

No Ian I'm not saying that during their breeding years that they're mistreated. I'm saying after so many years a mare shouldn't have to continue to foal in her late teens or twenties (in our years).  I've seen pictures of stallions that looked like they were about ready to die and they were still being made to breed.  I was saying it should be a cut off date to this.  I know that while these horses are in their prime of life they're treated great on these breeding farms.

eyeswatching 16 Dec 2012 4:11 PM

Ian,  most of the time when a mare (of age) or later teens (our years) dies it's a problem that has come from foaling.  My point is this,  why put her through that last foaling when a good veterinarian can see the stress it's put on her body inside from the previous foaling.  Why not stop ahead of time and let her retire from broodmare years and just be a horse.  Why is it required for her to produce that last foal if it's going to cost her her life.  JMO

eyeswatching 16 Dec 2012 4:17 PM

I agree with Ian.  I've been to Claiborne Farm numerous times.  Those horses are treated and live better than most people.  Claiborne Farm is the epitomy of "life of leasure" for any Thoroughbred.  Any true fan of the sport needs to make Claiborne Farm a must stop if they're ever in the area. I've taken numerous "non racing" fans (friends) there and everyone of them leave saying the same thing - "If only I could live that well."  

I don't understand why people comment on something they know absolutely nothing about.

Pulpit will be sadly missed - he was a class act all the way - just like the farm he stood at.

Terre 16 Dec 2012 6:00 PM

i talked with a stud manager this summer while I was at the Secretariat festival in Paris, KY. and I asked him about breeding these stallion's to a 100 to 150 mares a year and the effects it had on there health. He said it is very stressful on them and did put a lot of them in an early grave. They were  breeding stallions to 40 to 70 mares a year, is there no limit? Don't tell me this does not kill these hores early!! It is called Greed and they are after the numbers. Don't fool yourself!  Cailborne does not breed as many mares to a stallion's and they have been in the breeding business for a long time and they know what it does to a stallion!

Bo Mitchell 16 Dec 2012 10:18 PM

Some broodmares are retired (from the requirements of breeding/foaling) and thereafter allowed to live out their years. Many others are "forced" to remain as active broodmares (in old age) until their death. Many others are euthanized when they are no longer able to conceive or "carry" rather than being afforded retirement. Re-broodmare vs stallion, with age would seem somewhat greater risk to broodmare than stallion. Perhaps bigger question- what is the appropriate standard of care (evaluation-wise) for the aged stallion and broodmare?

sceptre 17 Dec 2012 12:18 PM

I personally think as pertains to broodmares that breeding them every year is a huge mistake for longevity.  Sure they do take a year off once in awhile themselves, but why not give them years off from time-to-time.  In my estimation this results in healthier foals and mares.  I have also raised champion cattle and do raise champion dogs and I do not feel the need to breed these creatures every time I could.

Marilyn from Canada 20 Dec 2012 12:35 PM

You have to understand that most of these mares are bred by commercial breeders who are in business to make a profit ( it's their livelihood ). If an older mare is healthy (and taken care of properly) it may be ok for her to have a foal. I had a 20 year old mare two years ago who was very healthy and one of her yearlings had sold at Keeneland for one million dollars and her other foals had averaged nearly $300'000.00 each so I bred her to a first year stallion and she stuck. She slipped the foal a few weeks later so I didn't breed her back because I reasoned that she was telling me that she had had enough  babies. I will also add that mares of all ages are lost during foaling - it's a part of life.

big john t 20 Dec 2012 5:30 PM

re-the aged broodmare:

What a moral dilemma !

If you make it a rule that none of her late age produce can be registered (thereby nearly eliminating the practice), it would surely result in mass euthanasia for those aged group mares. To avoid this would require industry wide efforts for enough retirement homes.

sceptre 23 Dec 2012 5:07 PM

As we all know it is a business. Claiborne serves as a sort of boarding facility for brood mares. They can make recommendations but the final decision of a mares future is up to the owners. Enough mares are lost during foaling for a large farm to keep breeding stock to serve as nurse mares. Like the son said in Casey's Shadow "Its all part of the business daddy". I love horse racing but in the end it is a brutal sport.

Boston Fan 16 Jan 2013 1:31 PM

A 4 year old dauhgter of Pulpit, Pastilla won her maiden at the first time of asking at Dundalk to-night at 2 miles and it will be interesting to see what happens next.

John T 05 Apr 2013 11:54 PM

I have a daughter (2007) of Pulpit that has foaled her first, a filly, that should carry on the mares line. Grandmother of our mare, Munnaya had her son , Alpha, running in the KD and Breeders Cup Classic. The filly was sired by the Mr. Prospector son, Cape Canaveral in Alberta. Now searching for the successes of Pulpit as a broodmare sire to help select the next mateing.

Ron St. Louis 16 Jun 2013 8:22 AM

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