Pedigree Profiles – Kentucky Derby Edition!

Here’s my own little look at the pedigrees in this year’s Kentucky Derby. You may agree, you may disagree, you may have no clue, but I hope you learn something by reading this. The little number-letter combination in the cool squiggly brackets is the horse’s female family. If two horses share the same number, they share the same taproot mare back in the 17th or 18th century. If they share the same number and letter, they are even more closely related through an influential mare deemed worthy to have her own branch of the family.

This post is also the introduction of my stamina ratings, called “Lucky Seven.” No, I will not tell you the specifics, I’ll only say that they are in extreme beta-mode. If it says “estimated”, it means that one – or in Candy Boy’s case, two – variable needed kinks worked out, and I had to insert a generic number, for now. The one thing I will say is that a score of 750 or higher = good for stamina.

Happy reading!

Vicar’s in Trouble (Into Mischief – Vibrant, by Vicar) {9-f}

Into Mischiefs are not the kind of horses that go ten furlongs successfully. He’s sired some cracking runners, including Breeders’ Cup winner Goldencents, but few of them want more than 1 1/8 miles, I think. And from what I’m seeing in his dam’s side, he doesn’t have much stamina in that area, either. But he’s a quick colt – a very quick colt indeed, maybe one of the fastest in the field. He has a neat cross to the speedy Icecapade, a half-brother to champion Ruffian. His dam, Vibrant, is a half-sister to Fall Highweight Handicap winner True Direction.

Lucky Seven (estimated): 700

Harry’s Holiday (Harlan’s Holiday – Daisy Mason, by Orientate) {23-b}

At first glance, that dam side is a little suspect for distance: Orientate, Clever Trick, Stop the Music… The top side isn’t so bad, though. Harlan’s Holiday, while more a mid-distance sire, placed at ten furlongs, and we’ve got Triple Crown winners Affirmed and Secretariat, as well as Princequillo and Halo. Interestingly enough, this colt is bred on a similar cross to his dam’s half-brother, the previously-mentioned Into Mischief (also by Harlan’s Holiday). Into Mischief has blossomed into a nice sire with offspring like Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile champ Goldencents, but his progeny don’t exactly inspire at more than a mile or so.

Lucky Seven: 710

Uncle Sigh (Indian Charlie – Cradlesong, by Pine Bluff) {1-o}

Uncle Sigh’s sire, Indian Charlie, has a bit of Derby history behind him. A sparkling winner of the Santa Anita Derby over Real Quiet in 1998, he went to Churchill Downs only to have Real Quiet turn the tables on him. He finished third, also behind eventual Belmont winner Victory Gallop. Indian Charlie, despite finishing on the board in the Derby, is not known for siring 10 furlong horses. But there’s quite a bit of blacktype behind this contender’s dam, Cradlesong – she is a half-sister to Grade 3 winner High Cotton, and her dam is a half to champion two year-old filly Storm Song and Grade 3 winner Diamond Omi. Nice horse? Certainly. 10 furlong material? Maybe not.

Lucky Seven: 719

Danza (Street Boss – Champagne Royale, by French Deputy) {8-d}

Street Boss was a lightning-quick sprinter, and this colt seems to have inherited some of that speed and also the ability to carry it for longer. And let’s not forget Street Boss’s sire, Street Cry, who has already sired a Derby winner in Street Sense. (So many Streets!) Champagne Royal, who comes from a modest but productive female family, is by a son of Deputy Minister, a sire I quite like as a broodmare sire, especially as the distances get longer. He’s made a fine appearance at Churchill Downs thus far and, while there are some tiny questions in his pedigree regarding stamina, he showed no signs of stopping at the finish of the Arkansas Derby.

Lucky Seven (estimated): 743

California Chrome (Lucky Pulpit – Love the Chase, by Not for Love) {A4}

For such a heavy favorite, California Chrome has a pretty modest pedigree: he’s done all his talking on the track. Lucky Pulpit was a stakes winner on the track but seemed to favor shorter distances; Love the Chase only won once in six starts and, close up, this female family hasn’t done a whole lot. But for all the doubts about his stamina through bloodlines, California Chrome won his nine furlong test with ease. If he manages to stay out of trouble and go the distance, he will write the perfect rags-to-riches story. Pardon the rags-to-riches cliche.

Lucky Seven: 742

Samraat (Noble Causeway – Little Indian Girl, by Indian Charlie) {14-b}

Let me take you down my own personal memory lane for a bit: Noble Causeway ran in the very first Kentucky Derby I ever watched. I remember his stretch battle with High Fly in the Florida Derby like it was yesterday. Where did he finish in May? Nowhere near Giacomo. Samraat’s dam, Little Indian Girl, is a pretty nice mare with some stakes runners under her belt. She’s also a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Nonsuch Bay, who won the Mother Goose back in 2002. One of the grittiest, most competitive horses in the field, Samraat won’t go down without a fight, but he may come up empty in the final furlong as far as bloodlines go.

Lucky Seven: 713

We Miss Artie (Artie Schiller – Athena’s Gift, by Fusaichi Pegasus) {3-j}

This colt has one of the more interesting pedigrees in this field. His top half is strongly turf; sire Artie Schiller won the 2005 Breeders’ Cup Mile, and grandsire El Prado is America’s main source of Sadler’s Wells today, mostly through Kitten’s Joy. On the dam side, we find Fusaichi Pegasus, a Derby winner whose niche is mostly in middle-distance runners like Roman Ruler and Bandini. He’s bred pretty well for the ten furlongs, but I’m thinking he’ll take better steps on a different surface like polytrack or turf. Queen’s Plate, eh?

Lucky Seven: 779

General a Rod (Roman Ruler – Dynamite Eyes, by Dynaformer) {4-d}

General a Rod’s page is quite colorful, with crosses to Danzig, Raise a Native, and Nashua, as well Roman Ruler’s cross to Mr. Prospector. Roman Ruler is not your typical Derby sire, but he is by a Derby winner – Fusaichi Pegasus. In contrast to his top half, though, “General”‘s female line is quite sturdy, especially through damsire Dynaformer, mentioned above. Look back five generations on his dam’s side and you’ll find a mare named Gay Hostess, the dam of 1969 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Majestic Prince.

Lucky Seven: 751

Vinceremos  (Pioneerof the Nile – Kettles Sister, by More Than Ready) {4-m}

This is one of the Pioneerof the Nile progeny that – like Cairo Prince and impressive maiden winner Ari the Adventurer (where is she?) – have sort of a wacky dosage index, at 7.00. Throw that out. It’s a weird oddity that sometimes happens with numbers crunched and shouldn’t affect a horse’s chances for going longer. This colt is out of a mare by More Than Ready, who is one of my favorite sires on the market. Quite a versatile creature! 2nd dam Safe At the Plate is a half-sister to Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) champion Safely Kept. But he’s certainly not the classiest horse in the field, and I’m not feeling much of his chances here.

Lucky Seven: 717

Wildcat Red (D’wildcat – Racene, by Miners Mark) {9-f}

I’m not ashamed to say that I scoffed at this horse’s pedigree after his Fountain of Youth victory. I’m also not ashamed to admit that he proved me wrong with a gritty effort in the nine-furlong Florida Derby, either. He’s a fighter, that’s for sure. But how far can a D’wildcat go? This isn’t a branch of the Storm Cat sireline that is particularly notable for distance, though they are indeed fast. I don’t see this guy going the full ten furlongs, though he’ll give it his best go! But here’s something interesting for you about Wildcat Red’s relatively modest female family: he’s a half-brother to a Jamaican champion – you heard me right – named Racing Machine.

Lucky Seven (estimated): 700

Dance With Fate (Two Step Salsa – Flirting With Fate, by Saint Ballado) {22-c}

A person pointed out to me on Twitter that milers often make good sires of classic winners. They were absolutely correct, and in that case, it may well pay off for Dance With Fate. His sire, Two Step Salsa, was a particularly good miler; among his wins was the 2009 Godolphin Mile, in the very last dirt edition of the race. Damsire Saint Ballado has proven an effective routing sire with 10 furlong Grade 1 winners such as Saint Liam and Ashado. Many have doubts about this colt’s stamina, but he finished up his Blue Grass exceptionally well, and I think he should be viewed as no less than a big threat to win the Derby.

Lucky Seven (estimated): 717

Chitu (Henny Hughes – Sea Gift, by A.P. Indy) {2-f}

The speedy Henny Hughes would not be anyone’s first guess at the sire of a Derby winner. Then again, would Two Step Salsa or Lucky Pulpit be, either? What Chitu has going for him is his sturdy female line, particularly his damsire, A.P. Indy, who is already a classic sire. In addition, Chitu’s dam Sea Gift was a winner at 10 furlongs in England. You can find names like Secretariat and Nijinsky in the  bottom half of his pedigree, each of them Triple Crown winners from different parts of the globe. It remains to be seen how far this frontrunner can fly, but maybe, just maybe, he can find a way to stay the whole way.

Lucky Seven (estimated): 704

Medal Count (Dynaformer – Brisquette, by Unbridled’s Song) {2-o}

This colt’s sire, Dynaformer, has a special distinction in this field: being the sire of a previous Kentucky Derby winner. Yes, the late son of Roberto sired Barbaro, who crushed the field by open lengths in 2006. Who knows what he would have gone on to do? Debates on fragility have gone on for years about Unbridled’s Song offspring, but he does have the hardy Will Take Charge, who was last year’s three year-old champion. Medal Count has one of the more classic-oriented pedigrees in the field, and, unlike most of his peers, he has no inbreeding in the first five generations of his pedigree. He is a half to stakes winner Garden District (Dixie Union).

Lucky Seven: 791

Tapiture (Tapit – Free Spin, by Olympio) {20-a}

I’ll just come out and say this – Tapit is not your typical 10 furlong sire. The nick has been working for his dam, though; her other two foals to race, both stakes winners, are by Tapit. It’s not a female family that’s going to make you stop and look again, but there is some stamina in the dam’s side, through Damascus and his sire Sword Dancer, a Belmont Stakes winner. Tapiture already has a graded stakes win on Churchill Downs’ surface and is training well, which makes me stop and think that there may be more value to Tapiture than at first glance. He also scored surprisingly well on my stamina ratings – better than Ride On Curlin and Wicked Strong.

Lucky Seven: 767

Intense Holiday (Harlan’s Holiday – Intensify, by Unbridled’s Song) {5-j}

This is one of those horses that I think doesn’t quite have the bottom to take the entire prize but is classy enough to get a piece of the pie. Harlan’s Holiday isn’t what comes to mind when I think routing sire, and Unbridled’s Song, though represented by Will Take Charge and Political Force as Grade 1 winners at ten furlongs, usually does better siring 9 furlong runners. This colt comes from what I like to call the “Shawklit” family: a steady stream of stakes winners originating from a mare named Shawklit, most with Shawklit somewhere in their name. While his pedigree’s a little light on distance, he’s looking way too good at Churchill Downs to ignore.

Lucky Seven (estimated): 737

Commanding Curve (Master Command – Mother, by Lion Hearted) {4-m}

This colt is the product of one of my favorite nicks – A.P. Indy on top, Storm Cat on the bottom. Of course, it’s through Master Command and Lion Hearted, so a little watered down, but it’s still there. There’s nothing in Commanding Curve’s pedigree – or running style, for that matter – that suggests he won’t get the Derby distance. There’s a good deal of blacktype under his 4th dam, Proper Princess, as she’s the dam of four stakes winners, including Arkansas Derby (G1) winner Proper Reality. Up closer, though, it’s a tad bit lighter. A bad work at Churchill Downs shook a lot of confidence in his ability, but his pedigree and running style suggests he’ll do fine.

Lucky Seven (estimated): 743

Candy Boy (Candy Ride – She’s An Eleven, by In Excess) {3-l}

At first glance, this pedigree doesn’t scream Derby distance. Actually, after a few glances, it still doesn’t scream Derby distance. Yet this colt is among my top choices, and I’ll explain why in another post. Candy Ride was a sensation in his Pacific Classic win, but as a sire, he seems to specialize in 9 furlong runners. In Excess sired Indian Charlie and Notional, two horses who failed to make good on Derby day. Second dam She’s a Sensation, who is inbred to a Northern half-sister to Secretariat (Somethingfabulous), is a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Leave Me Alone, who excelled in sprints.

Lucky Seven (very estimated): 708

Ride On Curlin (Curlin – Magical Ride, by Storm Cat) {9-f}

Despite being an underdog in this year’s Derby, Ride On Curlin has one of the best pedigrees in the field and certainly is bred for the distance. His sire, Curlin, who failed to get the job done in the 2007 Derby, went on to win both the Breeders’ Cup Classic and the Dubai World Cup at 10 furlongs as well as finishing second to Rags to Riches in the 12 furlong Belmont Stakes. He is out of Magical Ride, a Storm Cat daughter of Grade 1 winner Victory Ride, who excelled at sprints. There’s plenty of classic success to be found in these bloodlines, including Seeking the Gold, Deputy Minister, Mr. Prospector, and Secretariat. It’s a solid pedigree for the Derby distance.

Lucky Seven: 762

Wicked Strong (Hard Spun – Moyne Abbey, by Charismatic) {9-e}

Wicked Strong has Derby written all over his pedigree: damsire Charismatic won in 1999, and sire Hard Spun finished second in 2007. Originally named “Moyne Spun” – we’re all in agreement that we like his new name better, correct? – this colt is from a pretty nice family as well. His second dam produced 8 winners from 11 to race, two of them graded stakes horses, and is a half-sister to the dam of Pacific Classic winner Student Council. This colt has one of the most classic pedigrees in the field, second only, in my opinion, to Ride On Curlin.

Lucky Seven: 760

Pablo Del Monte (Giant’s Causeway – One Hot Wish, by Bring the Heat) {4-r}

This is the late addition to the Kentucky Derby party after Hoppertunity’s scratch, brought to us by Coolmore and Wesley Ward. He’s by Giant’s Causeway, who certainly needs no introduction. I’d say he’s an okay ten furlong sire: he’s the sire of the 1 1/4 world record holder, Red Giant. This female family has been fairly productive as far as stakes winners go; it includes champion Tempted and Grade 1 winner Broom Dance, both winners over the Derby distance. Though he’s bred fairly well to go long, Pablo Del Monte will be hard-pressed to stick around as a speed horse gunning it from the far outside post.

Lucky Seven (estimated): 736

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