Going the Derby Distance 2018
By Valerie Grash, Hello Race Fans Contributing Editor
In what may be the most evenly-matched field of contenders in recent memory (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017), this year’s 10-furlong (1 1/4 miles) Kentucky Derby poses a unique challenge to bettors and fans since so many entrants are loaded with stamina potential. Sires particularly well-represented include the now-deceased Scat Daddy with four runners (Combatant, Flameaway, Justify, and Mendelssohn), Curlin with three runners (Good Magic, Solomini, and Vino Rosso), and Medaglia d’Oro with two runners (Bolt d’Oro, and Enticed).
Obviously, the handicapper must consider which Derby entrants blend the right combination of speed and stamina. Furthermore, given that two recent Kentucky Derby winners, Animal Kingdom and I’ll Have Another, boasted terrific stamina damlines proven on turf, no longer can those “turf only” pedigrees be ignored.
With that in mind, let’s break down this year’s contenders into four categories and listed in alphabetical order:
Hands down, based solely on pedigree, these contenders appear best qualified to get the Derby distance
Winner of the 10-furlong Grade 1 Travers and runner-up in the 12-furlong Belmont, Medaglia d’Oro has particularly excelled in producing stamina-rich female dirt runners, including two 9-furlong Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks winners (Plum Pretty and Rachel Alexandra) and two 10-furlong Grade 1 Alabama winners (Songbird and Elate). Thus far, his best colts include 12-furlong Breeders’ Cup Turf victor Talismanic, two-time 9-furlong Grade 1 winner Mshawish, and turfster Al Khali, who was Grade 1-placed six times at distances of 11 and 12 furlongs. Having captured last year’s Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club gives Enticed a bit of an edge over his competitors in terms of experience over the Churchill surface; it is the quality of his damsire stamina that may put him over the top. His dam It’s Tricky was a Grade 1 winner or runner-up seven times, including a victory in the 9-furlong Coaching Club American Oaks and three runner-up finishes behind Eclipse champion Royal Delta, at 9 furlongs in the Beldame and Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic, as well as at 10 furlongs in the Alabama. His second dam Catboat won the 9-furlong Grade 3 Arlington Oaks, while her half-brother This Fleet is Due finished a close-up fourth behind Point Given in the 9-furlong Grade 1 Haskell.
Winner of the 12-furlong Grade 1 Belmont, Union Rags sired last year’s Belmont third-place finisher Patch in his first crop. His second crop is well represented by Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity victor Free Drop Billy, a colt whose immediate damline is resplendent with stamina. His dam Trensa finished a gaining second, losing by a mere neck, in the 11-furlong Grade 3 Robert G. Dick Memorial on turf. As a broodmare, she’s produced a half-brother to Free Drop Billy: Hawkbill, winner of this year’s 12-furlong Dubai Sheema Classic on turf. To date, Hawkbill has won 10 of his 20 starts, seven of which came at distances ranging from 10 to 13 furlongs. Another sibling, Trensita, only won once in 13 starts, but that maiden-breaking effort (in her 12th race) came at 11 furlongs on turf. His second dam, 7-furlong Grade 1 Ballerina winner Serape, produced a three-quarter sister to Trensa, two-time 9-furlong Grade 3 winner Batique (dam of 12-furlong Grade 3 Bewitch runner-up Tejida). His third dam Mochila not only finished second in the 9-furlong Grade 1 Ruffian, but she was twice Grade 1-placed at 10 furlongs. Other prominent members of this family include Breeders’ Cup Mile victor Cozzene, as well as 10-furlong Grade 2 Delaware runner-up Tiz Miz Sue.
With only three starts under his belt, Hofburg may be lightly raced, but his pedigree and performances thus far suggest his stamina potential is prodigious. He broke his maiden second-up going 1 1/16 miles before running an impressive (albeit a little green) second behind the more tested Audible in the 9-furlong Grade 1 Florida Derby. His sire Tapit has already produced three 12-furlong Belmont winners (Tonalist, Creator, and Tapwrit) and a runner-up (Frosted), so there is no lack of stamina in his sireline. It is the proven strength of his damside stamina that puts him among the top Derby contenders based on pedigree. Hofburg’s half-sister is four-time Grade 1 winner Emollient, who captured not only the 9-furlong Spinster, but also the American Oaks and Rodeo Drive, both at 10 furlongs. A 7-furlong French Group 3 runner-up as a juvenile, Hofburg’s second dam Glia came to the US in the fall of her sophomore year, winning the 9-furlong listed Pebbles (off-turf) at Belmont Park. As a broodmare, she has produced a half-sister to Hofburg’s dam, At a Great Rate, whose sole victory in 10 starts came at 10 furlongs on turf; another half-sister Astrologia won on all-weather in France going 9.5 furlongs. Hofburg’s third dam Coup de Genie captured two French Group 1 events before attempting dirt in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (where she finished a respectable fourth); for her efforts, she was named champion two-year-old filly in France. As a broodmare, Coup de Genie produced French two-year-old champion filly Denebola and a full-brother to Glia, Snake Mountain, who was a three-time Grade 3 winner at distances between 9 furlongs and 9.5 furlongs. Other immediate family members include last year’s 10.5-furlong French Group 1 Prix de Diane victress Senga, and two-time French Group 1 winner Machiavellian who, as a sire, produced 10-furlong Grade 1 Dubai World Cup winner Street Cry—sire of champions Street Sense, Winx, and Zenyatta. You don’t get much more blue-blooded than Hofburg.
Winner of the 9-furlong Grade 1 Florida Derby, Scat Daddy failed to impress in what turned out to be his career finale, the Kentucky Derby, finishing 18th out of 20 starters. Yet at stud, he has been wildly successful in producing both sprinters and stayers on turf, the latter category represented by Grade/Group 1 winners Celestine, Dacita, Daddy’s Lil Darling (who was also a Kentucky Oaks runner-up on dirt), Harmonize, and Lady of Shamrock. He has also produced quality dirt runners, like 9-furlong Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby victor Handsome Mike, two-time 9-furlong Grade 3 winner Daddy Nose Best, and 9-furlong Grade 1 Arkansas Derby runner-up Frac Daddy. Unfortunately, Scat Daddy died way too soon, at age 11 in 2015. As the last of his progeny hit the racetrack, it is interesting how many more are now excelling on dirt, including his four progeny entered in this year’s Derby: undefeated 9-furlong Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby winner Justify, 9-furlong Grade 1 Blue Grass runner-up Flameaway, 9-furlong Grade 1 Arkansas fourth-place finisher Combatant, and Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Mendelssohn. Trained by Aiden O’Brien, Mendelssohn could have been just another in a line of overmatched Coolmore grass horses the Irish master trainer has aimed for this race–that is, until he set a new track record in winning (by over 18 lengths) the 9.5-furlong Grade 2 UAE Derby on dirt. The stamina present in his damline suggests the 10-furlong Kentucky Derby distance should be a cinch. His half-sister is multiple champion and 11-time Grade 1 winner Beholder, who, in addition to twice capturing the 9-furlong Breeders’ Cup Distaff, won the 10-furlong Grade 1 Pacific Classic against males. His half-brother is Grade 1 winner and top sire Into Mischief, who is represented in this year’s Derby by Grade 1 Florida Derby victor Audible. Another prominent member of Mendelssohn’s damline family: Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I’ll Have Another (they share fourth dams).
There is a lot to like about these contenders in terms of stamina-but also niggling question marks:
Next to Mendelssohn, Flameaway may be Scat Daddy’s best-bred hope in this year’s Derby. Most recently second behind Good Magic in the 9-furlong Grade 2 Blue Grass, Flameaway possesses a deep stamina-rich pedigree on his damside, beginning with his Kentucky Derby-winning damsire Fusaichi Pegasus. His second damsire Generous won both the Group 1 English and Irish Derbies at 12 furlongs, while his third damsire Artaius not only captured the 10-furlong English Group 1 Eclipse Stakes, but also ran second in the 12-furlong French Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club. The female members of his family are just as accomplished. His half-sister Ellan Vannin won 1 1/16-miles Ontario Lassie as juvenile. Their second dam Rose of Tara’s only win came at 11.5 furlongs on turf in Ireland; she also twice finished second, once going 12 furlongs and once at 14 furlongs. In addition to Flameaway’s dam, Rose of Tara has also produced 9-furlong Grade 2 Canadian winner Essential Edge, as well as Flaming Rose, dam of 10-furlong Queen’s Plate runner-up Tiz a Slam. Flameaway’s third dam Flame of Tara captured the 10-furlong Irish Group 2 Pretty Polly Stakes and placed second in the 10-furlong English Group 1 Champion Stakes at Royal Ascot. As a broodmare, Flame of Tara was prodigious, producing three-time 12-furlong Group 1 winner Salsabil (Epsom Oaks, Irish Derby, Prix Vermeille)—dam of 9-furlong Grade 2 Knickerbocker winner Sahm and 12-furlong Group 2-placed Alabaq. Flame of Tara’s other offspring include English Group 1 winner (and top sire) Marju; 10-furlong French Group 3 victress Danse Royale; and 11-furlong Irish Group 2 runner-up Spirit of Tara. This is also the family of 14-furlong Irish Group 3 Curragh Cup winner Blushing Flame; 14-furlong Irish G3-placed Akarem; 10-furlong French Group 3 victor Echo of Light; and 12-furlong Irish listed Finale Stakes winner Tocco D’Amore.
Last year’s juvenile champion, Good Magic enters off a strong performance capturing the 9-furlong Grade 2 Blue Grass. He is one of three formidable Derby entrants sired by Curlin, an unimpeachable stamina producer. A narrow runner-up to the filly Rags to Riches in the 12-furlong Belmont Stakes, Curlin went on to capture four 10-furlong Grade 1 races, including the Jockey Club Gold Cup (twice), the Dubai World Cup and the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He has already produced a Kentucky Derby runner-up (Exaggerator, winner of the Preakness) and a 10-furlong Grade 1 Travers victor (Keen Ice), not to mention a Belmont Stakes winner (Palace Malice) and runner-up (Irish War Cry). Interestingly, Good Magic’s dam, Grade 2-placed Glinda the Good, has a Grade 2-placed half-sister by Curlin named Flash Forward who won the 9-furlong My Flag at Saratoga by 8 1/4 lengths, while another half-sister sister Take the Ribbon was a Grade 1 turf runner-up at 9 furlongs. Good Magic’s second dam Magical Flash is a half-sister to two-time Grade 1 winner Magical Maiden, who finished second in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks and third in the 9-furlong Breeders’ Cup Distaff; as a broodmare, Magical Maiden produced Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante winner Miss Houdini, dam of 9-furlong Grade 2 Arkansas Derby winner Papa Clem.
A first-out juvenile maiden winner, Solomini has been Grade 1-placed four times thus far, including being disqualified from a win in the Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity. He has been soundly defeated by Bolt d’Oro, Good Magic, and Magnum Moon, so the primary issue surrounding him is one of form. In terms of stamina breeding, what’s not to like? By established stamina sire Curlin, he’s got a damside that is likewise solid in terms of proven stamina. His unraced dam is a half-sister to Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Midshipman, as well as Grade 2 Cotillion victress Fast Cookie, dam of 12-furlong Grade 1 Belmont runner-up Frosted. Solomini’s second dam, Grade 1-placed Fleet Lady, won the 9-furlong Grade 2 La Canada Stakes; his twice-raced third dam Dear Mimi finished third in a turf maiden in England going 12 furlongs. Other prominent stayers in this family include 9-furlong Grade 2 Bernard Baruch runner-up War Monger, 11-furlong Group 1 Italian Oaks winner Carnauba, and 12-furlong Grade 2 San Luis Obispo runner-up Carnival Baby.
Grade 2 Wood Memorial winner Vino Rosso is the third Curlin colt entered in this year’s Derby. Just like the other two—Good Magic and Solomini—his damside pedigree is superb in terms of stamina. It begins modestly, with his dam’s only victory in 13 starts being a dirt mile maiden win (which she did capture by nearly 11 lengths). However, Vino Rosso’s second dam Flaming Heart (a daughter of 12-furlong Belmont winner Touch Gold) finished a game runner-up to Eclipse champion Fleet Indian in the 9-furlong Grade 3 Next Move. As a broodmare, she has produced two half-brothers to Mythical Bride: 6-furlong Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint runner-up Laugh Track and 12-furlong Belmont runner-up Commissioner. This is also the family of 6-furlong Grade 1 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash winner I’m the Tiger, so a nice balance of speed and stamina appears to be present.
The stamina may be there, but each of these contenders either lacks dirt experience or possesses other major question marks coming into the Derby:
A Grade 1 juvenile winner, Into Mischief was essentially a sprint-miler, and his best progeny, such as two-time Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Goldencents, have excelled at those distances. In rather atypical fashion, some Into Mischief offspring have stretched out a bit more, such as Goldencents, who captured the 9-furlong Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby, and Vicar’s In Trouble, who won the 9-furlong Grade 2 Louisiana Derby, but there’s nothing pedigree-wise to suggest that Into Mischief can pass on the stamina necessary to win at the classic distances, starting at 10 furlongs. Last year, his son Practical Joke finished fifth in the Kentucky Derby; after that, he won the one-mile Grade 3 Dwyer before finishing third in the 9-furlong Grade 1 Haskell and then winning the 7-furlong Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens (formerly the King’s Bishop). Audible, winner of the 9-furlong Grade 1 Florida Derby, may likewise face a challenge negotiating 10 furlongs. His dam began her career on the Belmont and Saratoga circuit under the tutelage of trainer Christophe Clement, breaking her juvenile maiden at second asking going 5 furlongs. By the end of her four-year-old campaign, Blue Devil Bel was toiling in the claiming ranks at Finger Lakes and Mountaineer, always sprinting. Her half-sister, Grade 3-placed Akilina, excelled as a turf miler, but once finished a close-up third in 9-furlong John Hettinger Stakes at Belmont. As a broodmare, Akilina has produced three-time 9-furlong Grade 2 runner-up Governor Malibu, who also finished a nice fourth in the 12-furlong Grade 1 Belmont. Audible’s fourth dam Classy Cathy won three Grade 1 events, including the 1 1/16-miles Ashland, the 9-furlong Gazelle, and the 10-furlong Alabama. Other noteworthy stamina achievers in this immediate family include 10-furlong English Group 1 Prince of Wales winner Placerville and 9-furlong Grade 1 Florida Derby runner-up Noble Causeway, as well as 12-furlong Round Table runner-up and 9.5-furlong Grade 2 Colonial Turf Cup third-place finisher Lime Rickey.
A two-time Grade 1 juvenile winner, Bolt d’Oro was beaten by fellow Kentucky Derby competitor Justify last out in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby. Can this son of Medaglia d’Oro turn the tables and win in Kentucky? A cursory look at this pedigree suggests it is possible, but a deeper look casts some doubt. His damline sires are all positive signs for stamina: his damsire is 12-furlong Grade 1 Belmont winner A.P. Indy; his second damsire is 10-furlong Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap victor Lord at War (broodmare sire of both 10-furlong Grade 1 Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem and Derby runner-up Pioneerof the Nile, sire of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah); and his third damsire is 10-furlong Grade 1 Travers winner Forty Niner. However, when it comes to actual runners, his damline leans more towards sprinting than staying. All three of his dam’s wins were on all-weather surfaces going one mile; as a broodmare, Globe Trot produced a half-brother to Bolt d’Oro, a multiple graded stakes-placed sprinter Sonic Mule. His second dam Trip won 11 times in her career, including twice winning the 1 1/16-miles Grade 3 Turfway Breeders’ Cup; among her siblings is the multiple stakes winner Joke, dam of three-time Grade 1 sprinter Zensational, and the unraced Pun, dam of 9-furlong Grade 2 Peter Pan third-place finisher Irish You Well. Two other half-sisters to Trip have also produced top runners (both by War Front): graded stakes-placed The Great War (fourth in the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile) and Grade 1-placed Departing, who twice won Grade 2 events (Super Derby, West Virginia Derby) at 9 furlongs.
Winner of the 10-furlong Queen’s Plate and 10-furlong Breeders’ Cup Classic, Awesome Again has produced tons of quality stayers, including 10-furlong Breeders’ Cup Classic victor Ghostzapper, three-time 10-furlong Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap winner Game On Dude, 10-furlong Grade 1 Person Ensign victress Ginger Punch, and two 12-furlong Grade 1 Belmont runner-ups Paynter and Oxbow—but no Kentucky Derby winner. Bravazo is bred on the same cross (Awesome Again with a Cee’s Tizzy mare) as both Paynter and Oxbow; however, both of those colts were produced by full sisters of two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Tiznow. Bravazo’s pedigree isn’t nearly as impressive, as none of the mares in his damline were good runners (or producers). Toiling in the claiming ranks, his dam Tiz o’ Gold won seven times in 30 starts, mostly at the one-mile distance. His second dam Pep o’ Gold was a claimer whose only victory in 10 starts came at 1 1/16 miles. His third dam Ginged Up once won a 6-furlong allowance race, while his fourth dam Pepped Up only broke her maiden in her third (and final) race at age 3. Ginged Up’s half-brother Broadway Pointe won the 6-furlong San Miguel as a juvenile, while her half-sister Mz Ann won two minor sprinting stakes at Laurel. Distantly, Bravazo is related to 9-furlong Grade 1 La Canada victress Hollywood Glitter, but overall there is not a whole lot to recommend Bravazo via his damside.
The least accomplished thus far of Scat Daddy’s four Derby entrants, Combatant also lacks clear evidence for the kind of stamina found in the others’ damlines. On the positive side, his unraced dam has produced 9-furlong UAE Grade 3-placed Long Lashes, while Border Dispute’s half-brother Just a Coincidence finished third in the 9-furlong Grade 1 Wood Memorial. When looking deeper in his bloodline, we find his fourth dam is legendary champion and blue hen broodmare Fanfreluche, winner of the 10-furlong Alabama. Among her 14 winners: 10-furlong Queen’s Plate winner and 11-furlong Prince of Wales victor L’Enjoleur, 9-furlong Canadian Oaks winner La Voyageuse, and Combatant’s third dam, Slew And Easy, who won once in 10 starts.
Winner of the 10-furlong Grade 1 Super Derby, Arch counts 10-furlong Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Blame and 10-furlong Grade 1 E.P. Taylor victress (and Canadian Horse of the Year) Arravale among his progeny. Instilled Regard could be his first Derby winner, if this dark bay colt can overcome his recent mediocre form. Winner of the Grade 3 Lecomte in January, he subsequently finished out of the money in both the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby and the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby. His dam Enhancing won only once in seven starts, breaking her maiden at Beulah going one mile. However, his second dam is this year’s sole Hall of Fame initiate, Heavenly Prize, who won five Grade 1 races between 9 and 10 furlongs. She has produced several outstanding runners, including two three-quarter brothers to Enhancing: two-time 10-furlong Grade 1 winner Good Reward and 9-furlong Grade 2 winner Pure Prize. This is also the immediate family of a multitude of top dirt and turf performers, such as two-time Grade 1-placed Faithfully; three-time Grade 1-placed (including the 9-furlong Del Mar Oaks) Stays in Vegas; 9-furlong Grade 3 Top Flight Invitational winner Carrumba; 9-furlong Grade 1 Mother Goose runner-up Oh What a Windful; 10-furlong Grade 1 Personal Ensign winner Persistently, and 10-furlong Grade 1 Manhattan winner Dancing Forever.
Undefeated in just three starts—most recently in the 9-furlong Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby—Justify must also overcome the “Apollo Curse”. No horse since Apollo in 1882 has won the Kentucky Derby without racing as a juvenile; Justify made his racing debut on February 18 this year. His Grade 3-placed Ghostzapper dam won between one mile and 1 1/16 miles, but the real stamina evidence is found in his second dam Magical Illusion, who finished third behind the great Ashado in the 10-furlong Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks. Justify’s third dam, 6-furlong Grade 3 winner Voodoo Lily, ran second in the 1 1/16-miles Grade 2 Alcibiades as a juvenile, as did her daughter Lily O’Gold. This is also the immediate family of 8-furlong Grade 3 Withers runner-up Shah Jehan; 1 1/16-miles Grade 2 La Canada victress Spellbound; and 10-furlong Grade 3 Excelsior winner Kid Cruz.
Juvenile Grade 1 Hopeful winner Majestic Warrior may have flopped as a 3-year-old, but as a sire, this son of Belmont winner A.P. Indy has produced four-time Grade 1 winner Princess of Sylmar, who won at the highest level three times going 9 furlongs (Kentucky Oaks, Beldame, and Coaching Club American Oaks) and once at 10 furlongs (Alabama). Can his late-closing son Lone Sailor get up to claim Derby glory? His second dam is 9-furlong Grade 1 Go for Wand winner Aldiza; as a broodmare, she has produced two half-sisters to Lone Sailor’s winless dam Ambitious: 9-furlong Grade 3 Turnback the Alarm winner Altesse and 9-furlong Grade 3 Anne Arundel third-place finisher Alchemist (dam of 10-furlong Grade 1 Delaware Handicap third-place finisher And Why Not). Another half-sister to Ambitious produced 9-furlong Grade 3 Peter Pan winner Timeline, while Ambitious’ half-brother is 9-furlong Grade 3 Sunland Derby runner-up Where’s The Moon. Lone Sailor’s third dam, Grade 2 winner Aishah, is a full sister to Eclipse champion Althea, who twice defeated colts as a juvenile before capturing the 9-furlong Grade 1 Arkansas Derby. This is also the family of 9-furlong Grade 1 Spinster victress Acoma, 10-furlong Grade 1 Super Derby winner (and top sire) Arch, 10-furlong Grade 1 Personal Ensign runner-up Balletto, and 11-furlong Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay winner Destiny Dance. With plenty of promised early speed in the race, Lone Sailor’s deep-closing style may be a winner.
With a Derby winner (Orb) already under his belt, Malibu Moon looks to add another with undefeated 9-furlong Grade 1 Arkansas Derby victor Magnum Moon. While nothing about his performances thus far has raised any concerns, several questions remain to be answered about this colt including, most notably, if he can break the so-called “Apollo Curse” (see Justify above). Another concern is the strength of his damline stamina pedigree. While his damsire Unbridled’s Song and his second damsire Giant’s Causeway provide plenty potential for stamina, the actual performers in his damside tend more towards sprinting. His unraced dam has produced a half-sister to Magnum Moon, Wake Island, who won only once in seven starts, in wire-to-wire fashion going 1 1/16 miles on turf; his half-brother Speightful Song is a dirt sprinter toiling in the claiming ranks. Magnum Moon’s second dam is twice Grade 2-placed sprinter Win McCool, winner of the 6-furlong Grade 3 Floral Park. His third dam Win Crafty Lady won the 6-furlong Grade 3 Interborough; tested at 9 furlongs in the Grade 3 Busher, she made the early lead but came up short, tiring to finish a still-respectable third. As a broodmare, she produced not only 7-furlong Grade 1 Ballerina winner Harmony Lodge, but also Grade 1-placed Graeme Hall, who was three times a graded stakes winner at 9 furlongs.
Despite being by proven stamina sire Giant’s Causeway, Creative Cause never won beyond 1 1/16 miles. He did finish second in the 9-furlong Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby, fifth in the 10-furlong Grade 1 Kentucky Derby, and third in his career finale, the 9.5-furlong Grade 1 Preakness. So, maybe he just didn’t get the opportunity to demonstrate his stamina potential. Out of his first crop, Twisted Tom captured the 9-furlong Federico Tesio before finishing a distant sixth in the 12-furlong Grade 1 Belmont. That his connections would attempt such a jump in class is understandable given that Twisted Tom’s first three damsires (Thunder Gulch, Seattle Slew, and Stage Door Johnny) were all 12-furlong Belmont winners. My Boy Jack’s first three damsires aren’t quite as impressive, but there is plenty to like. His first damsire Mineshaft won both the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup and Grade 1 Suburban at 10 furlongs. His second damsire is 10-furlong Grade 3 Dominion Day victor Gold Alert, while his third damsire Quadratic was twice Grade 2-placed at 9 furlongs. My Boy Jack’s unraced dam is a half-sister to 9-furlong turf Grade 3 Matchmaker runner-up Cat Alert; his second dam is 10-furlong Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks runner-up Gold n Delicious, who also won the 9-furlong Grade 3 Fleur de Lis. My Boy Jack’s third dam is 9-furlong Grade 1 Top Flight runner-up Beth’s Song; as a broodmare, she produced 10-furlong Grade 1 Super Derby third-place finisher Quadrophonic Sound.
Based on his pedigree, Grade 1 Florida Derby winner Take Charge Indy looked to be a credible threat to provide A.P. Indy with his first Kentucky Derby winner in 2012. That didn’t happen, as the colt faded to finish next to last. Out of Take Charge Indy’s first crop, 9-furlong Grade 2 Louisiana Derby winner Noble Indy looks to redeem his sire’s failing, but an examination of his damside pedigree (especially close-up) reveals serious misgivings about his ability to traverse 10 furlongs. Noble Indy’s multi-stakes winning dam Noble Maz won sprinting on turf and dirt, but both his second and third dams were unraced and produced little in terms of runners. To find real quality, you have to go all the way back to his fourth dam, 10-furlong Grade 2 Arlington Matron winner Impetuous Gal. As a broodmare, she produced 9-furlong Grade 3 victor Idabel, as well as three-time Grade 1 winner Banker’s Lady, who captured both the 9-furlong Top Flight and the 10-furlong Ladies Handicap. Other family members include 9-furlong Grade 2 Peter Pan winner Banker’s Gold (also twice a Grade 1 runner-up); 7-furlong Grade 1 King’s Bishop runner-up Bank Merger; 10-furlong Grade 1 Super Derby victor Ecton Park; 9-furlong Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks winner Personal Diary; and Grade 1 turf victress Daisy Devine who captured the 9-furlong Grade 3 Cardinal Handicap.
In possession of questionable stamina, these entrants could find the Derby distance well beyond their capabilities.
Grade 1 juvenile winner Firenze Fire was beaten in his last race, the 9-furlong Grade 2 Wood Memorial, by 11 lengths. Given the fact that his Grade 1-winning sire Poseidon’s Warrior was strictly a sprinter, is it even possible that Firenze Fire can win at 10 furlongs? Winless in two starts, his dam didn’t demonstrate much on the track. However, his second dam Mille Lacs is a full sister to 2011 Broodmare of the Year Oatsee, dam of Preakness winner Shackleford; 10-furlong Grade 1 Alabama winner Lady Joanne; multiple Grade 3 winner Baghdaria; and 9-furlong Grade 2 Falls City Handicap winner Afleeting Lady. So, is it possible? Maybe. Is it likely? No.
With an early running style similar to his sire, Promises Fulfilled faces significant challenges in the Derby, not the least of which is overcoming his incredibly disappointing last-place finish in the 9-furlong Grade 1 Florida Derby last out. Shackleford hung on gamely to win the Preakness after his fourth-place Kentucky Derby finish, but he really excelled as a sprint/miler. How much is Promised Fulfilled like his gutsy sire, and, more importantly, does he possess enough damside stamina to be competitive at 10 furlongs? On the positive side, his dam Marquee Delivery finished third in the 9-furlong Grade 3 Arlington Oaks. However, as a broodmare, she produced a half-sister to Promises Fulfilled, Grade 3-placed Marquee Miss, who won the 7-furlong listed Arlington-Washington Lassie in her first start and was Grade 3-placed at one mile. Another half-sister Marquee Cal Gal was twice stakes-placed at 6 furlongs. The pattern continues the deeper you go into his damline: plenty of stakes winners, but most either sprinting or around one mile. It just doesn’t quite seem to be enough to recommend him.