Going the Derby Distance 2012
Who Has the Pedigree to Win the 2012 Kentucky Derby?
Level: Intermediate
By Valerie Grash, Hello Race Fans Contributing Editor

So many factors come into play when handicapping the Kentucky Derby. Since none of the contestants has yet attempted the distance, prior form provides only some hint at each runner’s capabilities; it ultimately comes down to pedigree in terms of who can traverse the 1 1/4 miles (10-furlong) distance fastest to win. The validity of this approach is confirmed when looking back over our previous posts in 2010 and in 2011.

The fact that the 2012 Derby field appears (for the most part) incredibly well-qualified to go the distance makes the pedigree handicapper’s job that much more difficult, so let’s break down this year’s contenders into three categories, beginning with those that appear, from a stamina pedigree point of view, the best qualified to get the Derby distance:

Best Stamina Pedigrees

(Bernardini, out of Munnaya, by Nijinsky)
In his first crop, Bernardini sired 10-furlong Grade 1 Travers victor (and 12-furlong Belmont Stakes runner-up) Stay Thirsty as well as Grade 1 Cigar winner To Honor and Serve; one trait both of those colts share is that Northern Dancer is prominent in their damline. This year there’s similarly bred Alpha, whose dam Munnaya not only won the 11-furlong listed English Oaks Trial but has already produced five winners at or beyond 10 furlongs. In addition to his talented second damsire Alydar, Alpha has an impressive third damsire, Key to the Mint, who finished second in the 1972 Jockey Club Gold Cup when it was contested at two miles (16 furlongs), while his fourth damsire Quadrangle won the Belmont Stakes. This is also the family of champion and 9-furlong Woodbine Oaks victress Kamar (Key to the Mint), who produced multiple 9-furlong Grade 1 winner Gorgeous; Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks victress Seaside Attraction (dam of Grade 1 Florida Derby winner Cape Town and champion juvenile filly Golden Attraction); and 10-furlong Queen’s Plate victor Key to the Moon. On paper, Alpha probably has the best proven pedigree among all the contestants.

Bodemeister – PLACE (2nd)
(Empire Maker, out of Untouched Talent, by Storm Cat)
When his sire Empire Maker ruined Funny Cide’s Triple Crown over a sloppy Belmont track, he solidified his Grade 1-winning dam Toussand’s prowess as a broodmare, being her fourth Grade 1 winner. For Bodemeister, his damside is equally as talented. His lightly raced Grade 1-placed dam Untouched Talent finished second in the 1 1/16-miles Grade 2 Alcibiades in her only route attempt, but her dam Parade Queen twice won Grade 3 events at that distance, plus finished a game runner-up in the 9-furlong Grade 2 Rare Perfume Breeders’ Cup Handicap and won a 9-furlong allowance race on turf. A half brother to Untouched Talent, Obay broke his maiden by 11 lengths in a 12-furlong turf race and, in 2007, finished second to Premium Tap in the 12-furlong KSA-Grade 1 Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Cup on dirt. Another half sister, Kydd Gloves, won at 10 furlongs on turf, while other family members include 10-furlong turf winners Lemon Law and Keiai Raijin. Bodemeister’s second damsire is Belmont victor A.P. Indy, while his third damsire is the great 12-furlong Grade 1 Epsom Derby winner Roberto and his fourth damsire is English Triple Crown winner Nijinsky, so every indication is that Bodemeister should be able to successfully traverse the Derby distance. If he does, he’ll become the first Derby winner to have not raced as a 2-year-old since Apollo in 1882.

(Tiznow, out of Crystal Shard, by Mr. Prospector)
Two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic victor Tiznow counts among his progeny 10-furlong Grade 1 winners Colonel John and Well Armed, not to mention Belmont Stakes winner Da’ Tara. How proper would it be for undefeated Gemologist to become Tiznow’s first Derby winner? Gemologist’s unraced dam Crystal Shard is a full sister to Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks runner-up Withallprobability, dam of multiple 9-furlong Grade 3 stakes winner With Ability and the unraced Probable Colony, who is the dam of multiple 10-furlong graded stakes winner Summer Colony. One of Crystal Shard’s unraced three-quarter sisters produced 12-furlong Japanese Oaks winner Robe Decollete, while another unraced half sister birthed the Japanese Triple Tiara winner Still in Love. Both Gemologist’s second dam Sulemeif and his third dam, Kentucky Oaks runner-up Barely Even, finished third in the 12-furlong Orchid Handicap; as a broodmare, Barely Even produced 14 foals, 12 runners and 10 winners, including Grade 1 Oak Leaf victress One of a Klein.

Creative Cause
(Giant’s Causeway, out of Dream of Summer, by Siberian Summer)
Wood Memorial winner Eskendereya proved that Giant’s Causeway could produce Grade 1-winning dirt horses; Creative Cause’s third-place finish in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs proved that this colt could be a real Derby contender. His Grade 1-winning dam Dream of Summer captured the 1 1/16-miles Apple Blossom over the extremely talented Ashado and finished a late-closing second in the 9-furlong Grade 1 Santa Margarita Invitational in her career swansong. There aren’t many black-type runners in Creative Cause’s immediate family, but his damsire Siberian Summer upset Bertrando in winning the 10-furlong Grade 1 Strub; his second damsire Skywalker won the 10-furlong Breeders’ Cup Classic; and his third damsire Properantes captured the 14-furlong Grade 1 San Juan Capistrano Invitational Handicap. The Santa Anita Derby runner-up, Creative Cause looks to be one of the best California invaders in recent memory from a pedigree standpoint.

Take Charge Indy
(A.P. Indy, out of Take Charge Lady, by Dehere)
His sons have won three Jockey Club Gold Cups and one Preakness—and his daughter Rags to Riches replicated her sire’s feat in winning the Belmont Stakes—so it’s hard to believe that the now-pensioned A.P. Indy has yet to sire a Kentucky Derby winner. Well-bred Take Charge Indy could change that. His Kentucky Oaks runner-up dam Take Charge Lady regularly won at 1 1/8 miles, including twice capturing the Grade 1 Spinster Stakes; she also ran second in the 10-furlong Delaware Handicap. Among the other well-performing routers in his family are 9-furlong Mount Vernon Handicap victress Eventail; 9-furlong Grade 3-placed Commendation; Grade 2 Lane’s End runner-up Northern Giant; and 10-furlong Grade 2 Virginia Derby runner-up Straight Story. Calvin Borel aboard is just a nice bonus.

El Padrino
(Pulpit, out of Enchanted Rock, by Giant’s Causeway)
In 2010, Pulpit’s son Ice Box finished second behind Super Saver in the Kentucky Derby; bred on a similar cross, El Padrino would like to do him one better. His Grade 1 Ashland-winning second dam Chic Shirine produced 10-furlong Grade 2 Ladies Handicap winner Tara Roma, who in turn gave us 9-furlong Grade 1 Go For Wand victress Serra Lake. This is also the family of 9-furlong Grade 1 Haskell runner-up Coal Play; 9-furlong Grade 1 Hollywood Derby victor Brahms; Grade 2 Lake Placid winner Hungry Island; promising Grade 3-winning filly Somali Lemonade; multiple 12-furlong Grade 1-placed Al Khali; 12-furlong Grade 2-placed Miss Hellie; and 11-furlong Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club third-place finisher Baraan. Lots of strong distance runners close up in his damline.

Positive Indicators, but Some Questions

Union Rags
(Dixie Union, out of Tempo, by Gone West)
Although he won the 9-furlong Grade 1 Haskell, Dixie Union was more of a sprinter-miler and has thus far produced mostly similar progeny, so it’s difficult to imagine him producing a Kentucky Derby winner. However, Union Rags’ damline is intriguing; even though his dam Tempo only raced three times (all sprints), her dam Terpsichorist won the 10-furlong Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay Handicap andthe 12-furlong Grade 3 Long Island Handicap, and she even defeated males (including Grade 1-placed Darby Creek Road) in the ungraded 11-furlong Rutgers Handicap. As a broodmare, Terpsichorist also produced 10-furlong Grade 2 New York Handicap runner-up Dancing Devlette, dam of the 9-furlong Grade 1 Beldame third-place finisher Satans Quick Chick. The stamina his second dam may have passed on to him might just get Union Rags a Derby victory.

Dullahan – SHOW (3rd)
(Even the Score, out of Mining My Own, by Smart Strike)
In addition to his impressive late-closing fourth-place finish in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Dullahan has one major pedigree positive: his unraced dam Mining My Own has already produced a Kentucky Derby winner in Mine That Bird. Of course, Mine That Bird’s sire Birdstone not only won the 12-furlong Belmont Stakes but also produced in his first crop Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird, so Mine That Bird’s stamina pedigree was impeccable. How does Dullahan’s sireline pedigree stack up? Even the Score won multiple times at 1 1/8 miles on dirt, including the Grade 2 Californian; he also finished third, within two lengths of winner Total Impact, in the 10-furlong Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup in his career finale. Not a slam dunk, but good enough for serious consideration.

Went the Day Well
(Proud Citizen, out of Tiz Maie’s Day, by Tiznow)
A surprising 23-1 runner-up to longshot War Emblem in the 2002 Kentucky Derby, Proud Citizen has given us 10-furlong Grade 1 Alabama winner Proud Spell but no top-quality male routers. With his damside pedigree, Went the Day Well could end that drought. His unraced Tiznow dam is the daughter of precocious Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies runner-up Sweet Roberta. As a broodmare, Sweet Roberta also produced 9-furlong Woodbine Oaks runner-up Sweet Breanna (Sahm), as well as the nice filly Jah (Relaunch), who easily captured the 1 3/8 -miles Street Dancer Stakes over the Del Mar turf. Another daughter produced the 16-furlong English Group 2 Queen’s Vase winner Duke of Venice. In addition to Tiznow, Went The Day Well’s damline sires include 12-furlong Epsom Derby winner Roberto; 12-furlong Grade 1 Man o’ War winner (and 13-furlong Grade 1 Canadian International runner-up) Majestic Light; and 10-furlong Suburban Handicap victor Dr. Fager. So, if you can get past the questions about his sire, Went the Day Well looks promising.

(English Channel, out of Indy Pick, by A.P. Indy)
Like Giant’s Causeway, six-time Grade 1 turf winner English Channel has already produced some promising dirt runners in his first crop, most notably (in addition to Optimizer) Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby third-place finisher Blueskiesnrainbows. In terms of dirt stamina pedigree, Optimizer’s bloodline is impeccable, as he’s a direct damline descendent of 10-furlong Coaching Club American Oaks winner Lady Pitt through her multiple Grade 1-placed daughter Blitey. His dam Indy Pick ran exclusively on dirt in her brief six-race career, including a dominating 11-length victory in 9-furlong allowance race at Saratoga. Optimizer’s second dam Fantastic Find won the 9-furlong Grade 1 Hempstead Handicap; as a broodmare she produced a three-quarter sister to Indy Pick named Finder’s Fee, winner of the Grade 1 Acorn and third-place finisher in the 9-furlong Grade 1 Mother Goose; Fantastic Find also birthed 9-furlong Grade 2 Peter Pan runner-up Treasure Island. Among the many high-quality members in this family are: 9-furlong Grade 1 Blue Grass third-place finisher Gung Ho; 10-furlong Grade 1 Suburban winner Dancing Spree; 12-furlong Grade 2 Long Island Handicap victress Dancing All Night; multiple Chilean Group 1 winner We Can Seek; and 14-furlong Grade 2 San Juan Capistrano runner-up Warning Zone.

Daddy Nose Best
(Scat Daddy, out of Follow Your Bliss, by Thunder Gulch)
While Scat Daddy won the 9-furlong Grade 1 Florida Derby, he had no success in the Kentucky Derby; despite his damsire being Belmont Stakes winner Thunder Gulch, Daddy Nose Best faces major questions. His dam Follow Your Bliss never won in 12 starts, although she did hit the board once going 1 1/8 miles on turf (coincidentally under the same jockey who will ride her son in the Derby, Garrett Gomez), and his second dam Follow the Money twice won graded stakes at 1 1/16 miles on turf, while other family members include multiple 12-furlong turf stakes-placed Regal Dynasty. Otherwise, not a lot of proven dirt stamina among his damline family members.

(Bluegrass Cat, out of Miner’s Blessing, by Forty Niner)
Out of Belmont Stakes runner-up Bluegrass Cat’s second crop, Sabercat hasn’t shown much in two efforts against top company this year, but his lucrative Grade 3 Delta Jackpot win meant his connections didn’t have to have him fully cranked in his prep races. His damline sires are particularly impressive from a stamina standpoint, with his damsire being 10-furlong Travers winner Forty Niner and his second damsire Halo, winner of the 12-furlong Lawrence Realization. Sabercat’s unraced dam Miner’s Blessing is a three-quarter sister to 9-furlong Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan runner-up Conquistadoress, while another unraced half sister has produced 9-furlong Alydar Stakes winner Awesome Gambler. Sabercat’s Grade 3 Gallorette-winning third dam Wedding Party also produced Grade 1-placed Deputation, whose descendents include multiple Grade 3-winning Criminologist; 11-furlong Grade 3-placed Manoa; Grade 1 Spinster victress Carriage Trail; and 11-furlong Grade 2 runner-up Rescue Squad.

I’ll Have Another – WINNER
(Flower Alley, out of Arch’s Gal Edith, by Arch)
Travers victor Flower Alley finally got his first male Grade 1 winner when I’ll Have Another captured the Santa Anita Derby. Whether that will translate into success in Kentucky is questionable. I’ll Have Another’s dam, Arch’s Gal Edith, won her first (and only start) going six furlongs on dirt, but her dam Force Five Gal broke her maiden in a 9-furlong turf race before repeatedly finishing second in 10-furlong turf allowance events. Other family members who excelled on turf include 9-furlong Grade 3 Miss Grillo third-place finisher Last Cause; 12-furlong Grade 3 Bewitch runner-up Noble Cause; and French listed place-getter Bylaw, who won or placed at distances from 12- to 18-furlongs. Some prominent dirt performers in his family include 9-furlong Grade 1 Californian winner Roanoke; Grade 1 CashCall Futurity winner Into Mischief; and 9-furlong Grade 3 Tokyo City Handicap third-place finisher Melanyhasthepapers.

(Malibu Moon, out of Spirited Away, out of Awesome Again)
While Malibu Moon has produced some nice stamina-rich fillies (10-furlong Delaware Handicap victress Life at Ten immediately comes to mind), the same can’t be said of his male progeny (the exception being hard-knocking 14-furlong stakes winner Malibu Moonshine). Prospective’s dam Spirited Away broke her maiden going 1 1/16 miles on dirt and concluded her brief eight-race career with a victory in the Truly Bound Handicap over the same distance. Only two of her siblings won beyond one mile: Hottentot won a 1 1/16- miles claiming race once, and Delta Dancing once captured a 9-furlong claiming race at Charles Town. However, Spirited Away’s second dam is champion older mare North Sider, who counted among her 15 victories the 9-furlong G1 Santa Margarita; she also ran second in the 10-furlong Grade 1 Vanity Handicap. Other family members include: Grade 1-placed Zanjero and Fircroft, as well as Grade 2 Arkansas Derby runner-up Storm in May, Grade 2-placed Sheer Beauty, and 12-furlong Group 1 Italian Oaks runner-up Rose Violet.

Questionable Derby Stamina Pedigrees

(Teuflesberg, out of Bella Dorato, by Goldminers Gold)
Trinniberg faces a daunting task: not only has he never raced beyond seven furlongs or around two turns, but his bloodline offers significant stamina challenges. His dam Bella Dorato was strictly a sprinter whose sole attempt beyond seven furlongs saw her fade to finish nearly 18 lengths back of the winner, not surprising given that her sire Goldminers Gold was also strictly a sprinter. His second dam Witchkin (Salem) was also a sprinter who produced 5-furlong Grade 3 Kentucky Stakes runner-up Dream of Kaylee and 6-furlong Finger Lakes Juvenile Fillies runner-up Jovanna who won at 6 1/2 furlongs. Hands down, Trinniberg has the weakest stamina pedigree in the field.

(Tapit, out of Stormy Sunday, by Sir Cat)
Much like his sire Tapit, fan favorite Hansen may also find the Derby distance a challenge. His lightly raced dam Stormy Sunday never won beyond six furlongs (neither did both of her raced siblings), even though her Grade 2 winning sire Sir Cat was victorious several times at nine furlongs. The only other positive sign is that his third damsire is Belmont Stakes winner Temperence Hill, but the actual performers in Hansen’s damline are few and far between, perhaps proving he is indeed a freak.

Done Talking
(Broken Vow, out of Dixie Talking, by Dixieland Band)
The precocious dam of Done Talking won three of her four starts, including the 1 1/16-miles Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship and the 7-furlong G3 Cicada in her final start, but both of her other raced progeny have never won beyond six furlongs. Her dam Gin Talking won seven of 11 starts including the 9-furlong Grade 3 Anne Arundel, but none of her other offspring have demonstrated routing ability. Done Talking’s sire Broken Vow won as far as 1 1/8 miles, but he could only manage a third-place finish in the 10-furlong Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Handicap; as a damsire, Dixieland Band has already produced two Kentucky Derby winners, Monarchos and Street Sense. Thus far, Done Talking hasn’t proven in the same class as those two.

Rousing Sermon
(Lucky Pulpit, out of Rousing Again, by Awesome Again)
Despite stamina-proven sires in his damline (including a Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Awesome Again and two 10-furlong Travers winners, Alydar and Wajima), Rousing Sermon is from a family of sprinters, the best of which was his dam’s well-raced half brother Chindi, who won 18 of 81 starts, including two Grade 3 sprints, and his third dam Excitable Lady who twice won the 6-furlong Thoroughbred Club of America at Keeneland.

(Indian Charlie, out of Galloping Gal, by Victory Gallop)
His daughter Fleet Indian won both the Grade 1 Personal Ensign and Grade 2 Delaware Handicap at 1 1/4 miles, but when we think of Indian Charlie, it’s the speedy sprinters/milers that come to mind: Indian Blessing, Indyanne, My Pal Charlie and Uncle Mo. Perhaps that’s why (in addition to his three disappointing starts this year) that it’s hard to back Liaison’s chances despite the stamina quality of his damline pedigree, including three Belmont Stakes winners (damsire Victory Gallop, second dam sire A.P. Indy and fifth damsire Nashua); his third damsire Gleaming (a son of Herbager) twice won the 12-furlong Hialeah Turf Cup. There’s just too much inconsistency in terms of actual performers. For instance, his Grade 2-placed dam Galloping Gal finished a game second in the 9-furlong Virginia Oaks on turf, but her half sister Khalila was a Grade 3-placed sprinter. This is also the family of 9-furlong Grade 2 Jim Beam runner-up Bright Again and Grade 3-placed sprinter Pinkarella.

Daddy Long Legs
(Scat Daddy, out of Dreamy Maiden, by Meadowlake)
Another son of Scat Daddy, Daddy Long Legs has yet to run successfully on dirt, although his damline suggests that it should be possible. The question, however, is one of stamina. His 7-furlong Raven Run-winning dam Dreamy Maiden never won beyond a mile, and his siblings have been mostly sprinters, like minor stakes winner Tres Dream, not to mention two European-raced siblings bred on a similar Johannesburg cross, The Emperor Nero and Lake Ontario (although the latter did win a minor turf race at Cork going 1 1/4 miles). His second dam Sparrow Lake won the 10-furlong Wonder Where Stakes on turf, while other family members include 7-furlong Grade 2 Commonwealth Stakes third-place finisher Medzendeekron; multiple 6-furlong Canadian juvenile stakes winner Ever Steady (who twice defeated Sky Classic and later won the 9-furlong British Columbia Derby); 9-furlong Grade 3 Tokyo City Cup runner-up Texcess; and 10-furlong Queen’s Plate runner-up Bruce’s Mill. The fact that he previously ran so poorly over the Churchill Downs dirt oval weighs heavily in considering his Derby chances.

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One comment

  • Great write-up, thanks much for your hard work and insight. Wish I could get a good price on Take Charge Indy, but I fear not (Borel factor).

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