Going the Derby Distance 2014
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 furlongs) fastest to win. The validity of this approach is confirmed when looking back over our previous posts in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Despite all the grumbling about the alleged weakness of this year’s crop of contenders, the 2014 Derby field is actually an interesting oneâ€”and particularly deceptive at first glance in terms of perceiving stamina. It’s easy to look at only the sire and damsire as stamina indicators, but the wily bettor will look beyond that and consider additional factors. Given that in recent years brilliant runners have been quickly retired to stud without necessarily being given the opportunity to prove their stamina, the handicapper must consider which Derby entrants blend the right combination of speed (usually from the sire) and stamina (proven through the damline). 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:
Best Stamina Pedigrees
Hands down, based solely on pedigree, these four contenders appear best qualified to get the Derby distance (in alphabetical order):
(Henny Hughes, out of Sea Gift, by A.P. Indy)
A brilliant 2-year-old that duplicated his sire Hennessy‘s runner-up performance in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Henny Hughes skipped the Triple Crown trail entirely and stuck to sprint races where he excelled, winning the 7-furlong Grade 1 King’s Bishop and the 6-furlong Grade 1 Vosburgh. As a sire, his most impressive progeny thus far is two-time Breeders’ Cup and Eclipse Award winner Beholder, but overall Henny Hughes is more noted for passing on precocious speed rather than stamina. That’s exactly why he was matched up with a stamina-rich A.P. Indy mare like Sea Gift, whose first (and only) start was a victory going 10 furlongs on turf. Her dam Ocean Queen only made six starts, but four of those were winning ones, including a maiden victory going 9 furlongs on turf and a track record-setting, wire-to-wire effort winning the 9-furlong Grade 3 Bay Meadows Derby over males. A half sister toOcean Queen, multiple Grade 3 winner Dance Parade has produced 15-furlong Group 1 English St. Leger winner Leading Light, a Montjeu colt who also won last year’s 16-furlong (that would be 2 miles!) Group 3 Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot. It’s this direct stamina strength in his immediate female family members-exactly like recent Kentucky Derby winners Orb, I’ll Have Another, and Animal Kingdom-that makes Chitu an appealing Derby horse.
Danza – SHOW (3rd)
(Street Boss, out of Champagne Royale, by French Deputy)
At first glance, his pedigree doesn’t appear promising. A son of 10-furlong Group 1 Dubai World Cup winner Street Cry, late-blooming Street Boss didn’t even make his first start until early September in his 3-year-old campaign, never racing beyond 7 furlongs, but winning two Grade 1 sprints before a third-place finish (as the favorite) behind Midnight Lute and Fatal Bullet in the 6-furlong Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Danza‘s damsire French Deputy was also a sprinter/miler, capturing the 1-mile Grade 2 Jerome before an ill-advised start in the 10-furlong Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic-a race where he finished ninth of 11 starters, nearly 19 lengths behind the winner Cigar. Given the nature of their achievements on the track, it is natural to assume that both Street Boss and French Deputy haven’t the ability to produce stamina horses-and that would be wrong. It’s still early in Street Boss‘s stud career, as he has only two crops racing, but among his first crop was the Kentucky-bred, English-raced Wall Street Boss who broke his maiden going 11 furlongs over Kempton’s Polytrack. Among French Deputy‘s top-earning progeny are Better Than Ever, a 4-time Group 1 winner in New Zealand and Singapore who was a Group 2 winner at 10 furlongs; Kurofune, who set a new track record winning the 10 1/2-furlong Group 1 Japan Cup Dirt; 11-furlong Japanese Group 1 winner Eishin Deputy; and Japanese Group 1 runner-up Meisho Beluga, who was Group 2-placed at 15 furlongs. Digging deeper, we find that on his damside, Danza hails from the same family as Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile victor Tapizar; 9-furlong Grade 1 Hollywood Derby winner Olympio; 9 1/2-furlong Grade 1 Beverly D runner-up Bien Nicole; 10-furlong Grade 1 Travers place-getter Pyro; and 10-furlong Grade 1 Secretariat winner Paddy O’Prado. Bottom line: there’s a lot of class in his family. The real tipping point, though, is Danza‘s dam. Raced solely at Hastings in British Columbia, Champagne Royale twice won going 1 1/16 miles on dirt-and failed to place the only time she attempted 9 furlongs, finishing seventh of 11 starters in the sloppy Grade 3 Ballerina Breeders’ Cup at Hastings. In addition to Danza, she’s produced a Rockport Harbor colt, Majestic Harbor, who not only broke his maiden routing, but also-exactly two weeks before Danza won the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby-defeated seven other horses in winning the 12-furlong Grade 3 Tokyo City Cup. That’s the kind of close-up stamina evidence you want to see in a Kentucky Derby winner.
Hoppertunity – SCRATCHED
(Any Given Saturday, out of Refugee, by Unaccounted For)
A son of noted stamina sire Distorted Humor out of a mare by another noted stamina sire A.P. Indy, Any Given Saturday was rushed off to stud following a 3-year-old campaign that arguably peaked with his 4 1/2-length victory over Triple Crown-weary Hard Spun and Curlin in the 9-furlong Grade 1 Haskell.
. Hoppertunity ‘s damsire Unaccounted For skipped the Triple Crown trail, later beating out Preakness and Belmont winner Tabasco Cat in the 9-furlong Grade 2 Jim Dandy; he launched a relatively successful 4-year-old campaign, winning the 9-furlong Grade 1 Whitney and finishing just a length behind Cigar (and nearly 10 lengths in front of the rest of the field) in the 10-furlong Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup. Interestingly though, it’s not the male family members in Hoppertunity‘s family that provide the most impressive displays of stamina and class. His dam Refugee broke her maiden in wire-to-wire fashion going 9 furlongs on turf and topped her career with a close-up third-place effort in the 12-furlong Grade 2 Orchid Handicap, also on turf. In addition to Hoppertunity, she’s also produced two-time Grade 1 winner and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies runner-up Executiveprivilege. The other notable female in Hoppertunity‘s family is his third dam, the great Hall of Fame mare Davona Dale, winner of 11 of 18 starts, including five Grade 1 events. Winner of the Kentucky Oaks, she followed that up by capturing nearly every major 3-year-old filly race, including the 12-furlong Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks. In the breeding shed, she produced Le Voyageur, a French-raced invader who grabbed the early lead in the 1989 Belmont Stakes but eventually caved to finish a clear third behind Easy Goer and Sunday Silence.
(Hard Spun, out of Moyne Abbey, by Charismatic)
Hard Spun was one of the gutsiest racehorses of his generation, a Grade 1 King’s Bishop winner who had the ill-fortune to have been born the same year as champions Street Sense and Curlin. He was a game runner-up at 10 furlongs in both the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic-and those stamina genes were apparently passed on to his daughter Questing, who won the 10-furlong Grade 1 Alabama. On his damside, Wicked Strong possesses even more stamina influences, with his damsire Charismatic winning both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness before finishing third in the 12-furlong Belmont Stakes on a broken leg. The second damsire of Wicked Strong is With Approval, who not only captured the Canadian Triple Crown (the final leg of which is the 12-furlong Breeders’ Stakes), but also set a world record on turf going 11 furlongs and was a runner-up in the 12-furlong Breeders’ Cup Turf. Wicked Strong‘s dam Moyne Abbey broke her maiden routing, going 1 1/16 miles on turf, while her half siblings include 10-furlong Grade 3 Dominion Day runner-up Approval Rating; Grade 1-placed turf miler Gulch Approval; and 9-furlong Grade 2 Bonnie Miss third-place finisher Highest Class. This is also the immediate the family of 10-furlong Grade 1 Pacific Classic winnerStudent Council and 10-furlong Grade 1 Manhattan runner-up Roman Envoy, so every indicator suggests Wicked Strong can get the Derby distance.
Above Average Stamina Pedigrees
There is a lot to like about these contenders in terms of stamina-but also niggling question marks:
(Dynaformer, out of Brisquette, by Unbridled’s Song)
His sire has already produced a Kentucky Derby winner (Barbaro) and other quality Grade 1 dirt winners such as Perfect Drift, who was a 10-furlong winner or place-getter in six Grade 1 or 2 races, yet Dynaformer is still thought of primarily as a stamina-rich turf sire. That wouldn’t be wrong, as his progeny include 5-time Grade 1 turf winner Point of Entry and 16-furlong Group 1 Melbourne Cup winner Americain. Medal Count‘s damsire is Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Unbridled’s Song, who, after winning both the Grade 1 Florida Derby and Grade 1 Wood Memorial, failed as the favorite in the Kentucky Derby, fading to fifth after being on the lead. As a sire, he’s produced the likes of Kentucky Derby runner-up Eight Belles and 10-furlong Grade 1 Travers winner (and Breeders’ Cup Classic runner-up) Will Take Charge. Grade 3-placed Brisquette was solely a sprinter, and she produced a terrific half sister to Medal Count in 6-furlong Grade 3 Debutante winner Garden District, whose greatest claim to fame is defeating Rachel Alexandra. Medal Count‘s second dam Pirate’s Glow, twice a Grade 1 runner-up as a juvenile, was disqualified from a narrow runner-up finish in the 9-furlong Grade 2 Del Mar Oaks and placed fourth. In addition to Brisquette, she produced Grade 2 placed Quake, an allowance winner going 10 furlongs on turf, and Grade 3 runner-up Amorously, who was stakes-placed at 9 furlongs on dirt. He broke his maiden in an off-the-turf dirt race, butMedal Count ‘s best results have come on turf and over Keeneland’s Polytrack, where he finished a sharp late-closing second to Dance With Fate in the 9-furlong Grade 1 Blue Grass. Whether or not he can he find Grade 1 success on dirt is the question.
Ride On Curlin
(Curlin, out of Magical Ride, by Storm Cat)
Two-time Horse of the Year Curlin won four Grade 1 races at 10 furlongs-and who can forget that dramatic runner-up finish to the filly Rags to Riches in the 12-furlong Grade 1 Belmont Stakes? There’s no question of sire stamina here, and on the bottom, his damsire is the legendary sire of sires (not to mention top broodmare sire) Storm Cat. Ride On Curlin‘s second damsire is 10-furlong Grade 1 Super Derby victor Seeking the Gold, who finished just a half-length behind Alysheba in the sloppy 1988 Breeders’ Cup Classic.Ride On Curlin also has some solid graded stakes performers in his immediate family line, including his Grade 2-placed dam Magical Ride and his second dam Victory Ride, who defeated Hall of Fame finalist Xtra Heat in the 7-furlong Grade 1 Test. A half brother to Victory Ride, River Flyer captured the 9-furlong Grade 1 Hollywood Derby as well as the 10-furlong Grade 2 San Marcos, both on turf, but he was also a stakes winner on dirt. This is also the family of 14-furlong English Group 3 winner Admiral’s Cruise and 10-furlong Grade 1 Personal Ensign runner-up Transcendental, dam of 10-furlong Grade 3 Dominion Day victor Don Cavallo. While sprinters are plentiful in his family, Ride On Curlin may possess the right blend of speed and stamina to find Derby glory-especially with 3-time Derby winning jockey Calvin Borel aboard.
(Indian Charlie, out of Cradlesong, by Pine Bluff)
His sire Indian Charlie won the 9-furlong Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby but tired late to finish third-behind Real Quiet and Victory Gallop-in the 10-furlong Grade 1 Kentucky Derby. It would be his last race before heading off to stud, where he is noted for producing brilliant sprinters like champion Indian Blessing and equally brilliant early-speed horses like Uncle Mo and Conveyance-but not many progeny that have proven themselves beyond 9 furlongs. It is Uncle Sigh‘s damline that offers promising stamina. His Preakness-winning damsire Pine Bluff finished a close-up third in the 12-furlong Grade 1 Belmont, just behind Uncle Sigh‘s second damsire A.P. Indy. Uncle Sigh‘s half brother Percussion was not only a stakes winner at 9 furlongs on dirt but also hung on to finish second, just a length behind Breeders’ Cup Marathon winner Calidoscopio, in the 12-furlong Grade 2 Brooklyn Handicap. Another half brother, Slew By Slew, won as far as 9 1/2 furlongs, while his half sister Nasuno Sibelius was twice a 9-furlong turf winner in Japan, including in her maiden effort. Among his unraced dam Cradlesong‘s siblings are 9-furlong Grade 2 runner-up High Cotton; 12-furlong Grade 3 winner Symphony Sid; and the hard-luck Times Gone By, who twice ran fourth in Grade 1 races, including in 10-furlong Clement L. Hirsch Memorial Turf. Times Gone By also finished just a head out of the money in the 12-furlong Grade 3 Cougar II Handicap over Del Mar’s all-weather surface. Also among Uncle Sigh‘s immediate family are Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies champion Storm Song; 10-furlong Japanese Grade 2 winner Midsummer Fair; and 11-furlong Group 1 Singapore Gold Cup winner Better Life, a filly who was twice named champion stayer in Singapore. There’s certainly a whole lot of promise here.
(Candy Ride, out of She’s An Eleven, by In Excess)
His undefeated sire Candy Ride was a champion miler in his native Argentina before coming to the U.S., where he ended his brief 6-race career with an impressive victory over 3-time Grade 1 winner Medaglia d’Oro in the 10-furlong Grade 1 Pacific Classic. As a sire, Candy Ride has already produced tremendous stamina-rich winners, such as 10-furlong Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap victor Misremembered, as well as Santa Anita Handicap runner-up Clubhouse Ride and 10-furlong Grade 1 Pacific Classic runner-ups Twirling Candy and Kettle Corn. Can Candy Boy rise to the same lofty heights? His damsire In Excess counted among his 11 career victories a win in the 10-furlong Grade 1 Suburban Handicap. That stamina was apparently passed down to Candy Boy‘s dam She’s An Eleven-after breaking her maiden by 11 1/4 lengths going a mile, she came back to win the 1 1/16 miles Melair Stakes by 9 1/4 lengths over eight rivals. Except for a few classy sprinters (mainly Grade 1 Test winner Leave Me Alone), there’s not a lot of class in this family, but given what we’ve seen of Candy Boy thus far, his ability to get 10 furlongs is encouraging.
Positive Indicators, But Also Some Questions
The stamina may be there, but each of these contenders either lacks dirt experience or possesses other major question marks coming into the Derby:
(Tapit, out of Free Spin, by Olympio)
The current “hot” sire with four Breeders’ Cup winners to his name, Tapit has yet to produce a Grade 1 winner beyond 9 furlongs-brilliant speed horses, yes, but none that have demonstrated tremendous stamina. Tapiture‘s 9-furlong Grade 2 Arkansas Derby winning damsire Olympio ran equally well on turf, capturing the 10-furlong Grade 2 American Derby before just missing by a head in the 10-furlong Grade 1 Secretariat. Tapiture‘s second damsire Private Account twice captured 10-furlong Grade 1 events. Strictly a sprinter,Tapiture‘s dam Free Spin has produced two other stakes winners by Tapit: Grade 3 runner-up Retap who was a listed stakes winner at 6 1/2 furlongs and stakes winner Remit who broke her juvenile maiden going 1 1/16 miles. His second dam Spin n Win was a 1-mile turf allowance winner, while his third dam Deb’s Angel was a multiple sprint stakes winner. Overall, there’s just not a tremendous amount of class or proven stamina among his female family members-or in his sire.
We Miss Artie
(Artie Schiller, out of Athena’s Gift, by Fusaichi Pegasus)
Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Artie Schiller excelled on turf but never won a race beyond 9 furlongs, although he was once Grade 1-placed at 10 furlongs. As a sire, he’s produced some nice turf and all-weather graded stakes performers, including Grade 1 Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity victor We Miss Artie-a colt that has yet to win a race on dirt. His damsire is Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus, which bodes well for him in terms of stamina, but his second damsire, the undefeated Saratoga Six, retired after making only four starts as a juvenile, so there’s little to recommend his stamina influence. In her juvenile debut (a 6-furlong maiden special weight event on Woodbine’s Polytrack), We Miss Artie‘s dam Athena’s Gift finished a half length behind another first-time starter, Ginger Brew -a filly that would go on to win the Woodbine Oaks and come within a head’s length of winning the prestigious Queen’s Plate against males. As for Athena’s Gift, it would take her six more starts before she finally broke her maiden, and that was going a mile on turf. In her next outing, she won a 9-furlong turf allowance race. We Miss Artie‘s second dam Russian Bride broke her maiden first-out as a 2-year-old, going 5 1/2 furlongs over a sloppy Belmont track. Her best effort was a runner-up finish in the 1 1/16 miles Grade 2 Comely on dirt, but she also won a listed turf stakes race at that distance. In addition to Athena’s Gift, Russian Bride produced Rushin To Altar who was twice a Grade 2 sprint runner-up. More distantly, We Miss Artie is related to some impressive turfsters, including 10-furlong Grade 1 Beverly Hills runner-up Sixy Saint and 11-furlong Group 2 German Oaks (Preis der Diana) winner Risen Raven, a half sister to Russian Bride. There’s just so much turf ability in his family-that’s what makes it difficult to back his chances.
(Harlan’s Holiday, out of Intensify, by Unbridled’s Song)
His sire Harlan’s Holiday was three times Grade 1-placed going 10 furlongs, while his damsire Unbridled’s Song captured both the Florida Derby and Wood Memorial at 9 furlongs-the latter a race also won by his second damsire Air Forbes Won. If that’s not stamina enough, consider the fact that Intense Holiday‘s third damsire Groshawk was twice a Grade 1 runner-up at 12 furlongs. His second dam Her She Shawklit was Grade 1-placed at 9 furlongs, as was her full brother Shawklit Won (Wood Memorial). As a broodmare, Her She Shawklit produced (in addition to Intensify) multiple Grade 3 winnerCrafty Shaw, a colt who just missed winning the 9-furlong Grade 2 Clark Handicap when five-time Grade 1 winner Lido Palace stuck his head in front at the wire. Another of her progeny, multiple Grade 2 runner-up Her She Kisses, excelled at sprinting, but did run a close-up second in the 1 1/16 miles Grade 2 El Encino. A colt that appears in form after three solid outings this year-including a victory in the Grade 2 Risen Star and a runner-up finish in the 9-furlong Grade 2 Louisiana Derby-Intense Holiday could be one of those horses still grinding on late after those with lesser stamina peter out.
General a Rod
(Roman Ruler, out of Dynamite Eyes, by Dynaformer)
A son of Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus, Roman Ruler skipped the Triple Crown trail, only to emerge later that summer victorious in the 9-furlong Grade 1 Haskell. After running third in the 10-furlong Grade 1 Travers, Roman Ruler concluded his racing career with a gallant runner-up effort against the older Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap winner Rock Hard Ten in the 9-furlong Grade 1 Goodwood. As a sire, Roman Ruler has already produced 12-furlong Grade 1 Belmont Stakes winner Ruler On Ice, but, unlike General a Rod, that colt had a damline pedigree chalk-full of Grade 1 winners. For General a Rod, there’s no doubting the stamina found in his damsire Dynaformer (sire of Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro), nor his second damsire Meadowlake, who was particularly good at producing Grade 1-winning fillies such as 6-time Grade 1 winner Meadow Star, victress of the 9-furlong Mother Goose and 1990 champion 2-year-old filly; Breeders’ Cup Sprint runner-up Meafara and 6-furlong Grade 1 Prioress winner Wildcat Bettie B. General a Rod‘s second dam Buckeye Search did not rise quite to that level, although she did run second in the 9-furlong Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan. Her best foal was 1 1/16 miles Grade 3 Selene runner-up Angel On Watch. General a Rod‘s dam Dynamite Eyes only broke her maiden via disqualification and didn’t hit the board again. Most of the quality in his female family line is pretty far removed (for example, his fourth dam was a half sister to 1969 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Majestic Prince, while his third dam was a half sister to 12-furlong French Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club victor Caracolero). It just doesn’t quite seem to be enough to recommend his chances even with Dynaformer so close-up.
(D’Wildcat, out of Racene, by Miner’s Mark)
His sire D’Wildcat was a Grade 1 winning sprinter-ideally the last thing you want to see in a Kentucky Derby-winning pedigree. However, his damside is far more interesting. His damsire Miner’s Mark won the 10-furlong Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup, while his second damsireFlying Paster was twice a Grade 1 runner-up at 10 furlongs (behind the great Spectacular Bid). Wildcat Red‘s dam Racene not only won at 10 furlongs on turf, but she also was Grade 3-placed going 11 furlongs, again on turf. But that’s where the class and stamina evidence ends. More than his pedigree, what may sink Wildcat Red is his front-running style-in recent years, only early leaders Bodemeister (2012) and Hard Spun (2007) hung on to finish second in the Derby, and both had far stronger stamina pedigrees.
(Harlan’s Holiday, out of Daisy Mason, by Orientate)
His sire Harlan’s Holiday was multiple-Grade 1-placed at 10 furlongs, but what makes Harry’s Holiday so interesting is that his stakes-winning second dam Leslie’s Lady produced not only his unraced dam, but also 2-time Breeders’ Cup winner and 2-time Eclipse-winning filly Beholder, as well as Grade 1 CashCall Futurity winner Into Mischief (also a son of Harlan’s Holiday). Claimed for $30,000 in his maiden-breaking first start, Harry’s Holiday certainly hasn’t run like his better-known relatives, especially in his last start, in which he trailed off to finish a very distant 13th of 14 starters in the 9-furlong Grade 1 Blue Grass at Keeneland. Before that, he had finished a tiring third in the 1 1/16 miles John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway before a jockey change to Rosie Napravnik seemingly woke him up, leading him to a narrow runner-up finish behind We Miss Artie in the 9-furlong Grade 3 Spiral (the race that earned him enough points and money to barely make the Derby field). He’s already proven he can win over the Churchill Downs dirt track sprinting, but his current form makes him nearly impossible to back, especially at 10 furlongs.
Questionable Derby Stamina Pedigrees
In possession of questionable stamina, these entrants could find the Derby distance well beyond their capabilities.
Vicar’s In Trouble
(Into Mischief, out of Vibrant, by Vicar)
Due to injury, Into Mischief never raced beyond 1 1/16 miles, but, given that his sire Harlan’s Holiday was multiple Grade 1-placed at 10 furlongs, Into Mischief was certainly bred for stamina; his half sister Beholder-2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner, 2013 Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner and two-time Eclipse champion-may definitively prove that fact. However, on his damside,Vicar’s In Trouble also comes up short in the stamina department. The damsire of Vicar’s In Trouble, Vicar did capture the 9-furlong Grade 1 Florida Derby (by a nose), but he truly found his niche as a sprinter/miler after the Triple Crown races, finishing a narrow second to Doneraile Court in the 1-mile Grade 2 Jerome Handicap before unsuccessfully competing in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. The second damsire of Vicar’s In Trouble, 9-furlong Grade 1 Arkansas Derby winner Tank’s Prospect failed to place in the Kentucky Derby but came back to win the Preakness, just like his sire before him, Bold Ruler. It’s not the strongest stamina pedigree topside-and when you look more closely at the female runners in Vicar’s In Trouble’s damside and their progeny, the predilection for sprinting becomes apparent. His dam Vibrant was a sprinter, as was his half sister Dontgetmadalexis; Vibrant‘s half brother was 6-furlong Grade 3 Fall Highweight winner True Direction. Their dam Ms Paragon was a sprint allowance winner. The one positive indicator: another half sibling of Vibrant and True Direction, Williamthenchanted not only broke his juvenile maiden first-out going a mile, but he also regularly won at route distances, including two 12-furlong dirt starter handicap races and two 9-furlong claiming races. Also among this family’s members is 10-furlong Grade 1 Super Derby runner-up Encolure, half brother to Ms Paragon. While he won the 9-furlong Grade 2 Louisiana Derby in wire-to-wire fashion, away from the happy confines of the Fair Grounds Vicar’s In Trouble is highly unlikely to replicate that feat, especially when stretching out to 10 furlongs.
(Pioneerof The Nile, out of Kettle’s Sister, by More Than Ready)
This son of Kentucky Derby runner-up Pioneerof The Nile should appreciate returning to dirt after his terrible dead-last finish in the 9-furlong Grade 1 Blue Grass-if Keeneland’s Polytrack, and not the distance, was really the problem. Interestingly, his damsire More Than Ready has actually had tremendous success producing Group 1-winning turf horses, particularly in Australia, including 8-time Group 1 winning mare More Joyous and juvenile Triple Crown winner Sebring-both of them were at their best when sprinting.Vinceremos‘ second damsire Double Zeus was also a sprinter-and the sprinting gene doesn’t end there. Vinceremos‘ multiple stakes-placed second dam was a half sister to Hall of Fame mare Safely Kept, winner of the 6-furlong Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, as well as multiple Grade 2-placed sprinter (and sire of sprinters) Partner’s Hero. This is also the family of 1 1/16 miles Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club winner Santiva and a couple other graded stakes performers-but none that showed the ability to win beyond 9 furlongs.
Commanding Curve – PLACE (2nd)
(Master Command, out of Mother, by Lion Hearted)
A son of Belmont Stakes winner A.P. Indy, Master Command was a 4-time graded stakes winner going 9 furlongs, so it’s not surprising that in his first crop he produced 10-furlong Grade 1 Hollywood Derby victor Unbridled Command. However, you’d be hard-pressed to find any stamina in- Commanding Curve‘s damline. Both his damsire Lion Hearted and his second damsire Topsider were sprinters, as was his dam Mother and his stakes-placed half sister Hot Roots. He did break his maiden in impressive fashion late last year at Churchill Downs going 1 1/16 miles. Still, for a horse with such weak stamina credentials-not to mention one who only made it into the starting gate due to other’s defections-it’s hard to back his chances.
(Noble Causeway, out of Little Indian Girl, by Indian Charlie)
As a son of the great turf stamina sire Giant’s Causeway, Noble Causeway surprisingly found his greatest success on dirt, breaking his maiden going 9 furlongs before his runner-up finish in the 9-furlong Grade 1 Florida Derby. A foal from his third crop, Samraat is far and away the best runner Noble Causeway has produced to date. Samraat‘s damsire is the speedy 9-furlong Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby winner Indian Charlie, who also finished third-behind Real Quiet and Victory Gallop-in the 10-furlong Grade 1 Kentucky Derby. His second damsire is the obscure Light Idea, son of four-time Grade 1 winner Majestic Light who not only won the 12-furlong Grade 1 Man O’ War butwas also a game second to the greatExceller in the 13-furlong Grade 1 Canadian International. However, seemingly none of that racing ability was passed on toLight Idea or his daughter Brighter Than Gold, Samraat‘s second dam-she won only two races in 35 starts.Brighter Than Gold‘s second foal was 9-furlong Grade 1 Mother Goose victress Nonsuch Bay. Little Indian Girl broke her maiden going 1 1/16 miles, which points to some stamina, but certainly not the kind you expect to see in a Kentucky Derby winner.
Dance With Fate
(Two Step Salsa, out of Flirting With Fate, by Saint Ballado)
His sire Two Step Salsa excelled as a miler, finishing third in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile before being purchased by Godophin and sent to Dubai, where he won the Grade 2 Godolphin Mile. His damsire Saint Ballado won the 9-furlong Grade 2 Arlington Classic before finishing a distant fourth as the favorite in his career finale, the 9-furlong Grade 1 Haskell Invitational. As a sire, Saint Ballado has produced the likes of 10-furlong Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Saint Liam and 10-furlong Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks victressAshado, not to mention 12-furlong Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup winner Sunriver. Unfortunately,Dance With Fate‘s dam wasn’t a stayer-her sole victory in seven starts came at 6 1/2 furlongs-and neither are most of her progeny. Dance With Fate‘s half brother Asfatewouldhaveit made a nice little career of hitting the board in (although not usually winning) 6-furlong starter allowance races at Parx before shipping down to Florida late last year-in his most recent start, he finished a narrow second going 1 1/16 miles on turf at Gulfstream. A half sister, Vegas Wedding was strictly a sprinter, but one that won on all three surfaces: dirt, all-weather and turf. Given that his second damsire is the prodigious turf sire Belong To Me (sire of Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf winner Forever Together), it’s not surprising that Dance With Fate has found success on synthetic surfaces, finishing second in the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby over Golden Gate’s Tapeta track and winning the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes over Keeneland’s Polytrack. On all-weather surfaces and turf is probably where he rightly belongs.
California Chrome – WINNER
(Lucky Pulpit, out of Love the Chase, by Not For Love)
His sire Lucky Pulpit was mainly a turf sprinter/miler who, after racing on the lead early, weakened in the stretch to finish dead-last in the 9-furlong Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby. Prior to California Chrome, Lucky Pulpit‘s most successful progeny was Rousing Sermon, who as a juvenile was a Grade 1 runner-up behind Liaison in the CashCall Futurity and who ran third in the 9-furlong Grade 2 Louisiana Derby. As a racehorse, California Chrome‘s damsire Not For Love was mediocre, an allowance winner as a dirt sprinter but also going 9 furlongs on turf and 9 1/2 furlongs on a sloppy dirt track. As a sire, he has produced solid racehorses with good earnings, but none that have made him a household name beyond the Mid-Atlantic region where he stands. Like Not For Love, California Chrome‘s second damsire Polish Numbers was arguably better as a sire than racehorse, particularly in producing turf runners. California Chrome‘s dam Love the Chase hit the board in only one of her six career starts, a maiden claiming victory going a mile over Golden Gate’s all-weather surface. Her dam Chase It Down won only once as well-a 6 1/2-furlong sprint over Charles Town’s bullring track. To find some quality runners in his damline, you have to go back to California Chrome’s third dam Chase the Dream, a New York-bred stakes winner whose best effort was a third-place effort in the Grade 3 Tempted as a juvenile. Her daughter Amourette twice won 11-furlong turf stakes races before producing the 13-furlong Grade 3 Stars and Stripes turf runner-up Lemonade Kid. A final tantalizing stamina indicator: California Chrome‘s third damsire is Sir Ivor, a 12-furlong turf mainstay with victories in the English Derby and Washington D.C. International, as well as runner-up performances in the Irish Derby and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Does California Chrome have enough stamina in his bloodline to get the Derby distance? Honestly, it’s highly unlikely. If he wins, it will truly be because he is a freak of nature.