The Kentucky Derby Outlook is a blog staple and annual tradition I look forward to writing each December. Next to the month of May and the Kentucky Derby, December is one of my favorite months on the Derby Trail as that is when I research the current crop of 2-year-old Thoroughbreds to see which ones may have the potential to become a Classic Champion Thoroughbred. However, despite the joy and pleasure I receive in trying to find a potential champion, analyzing pedigrees and reviewing the races of as many 2-year-olds as possible is always a daunting task.
Nevertheless, that intensive study has helped me pick the classic champions I’ll Have Another, Animal Kingdom, Pour Moi, Super Saver, Lookin At Lucky, and Summer Bird. And last year, all five horses I profiled in my Kentucky Derby blog finished in the top five.
Like an intricate puzzle, the pedigree contains many secrets of what champions are made of. After many years of research and study, I know that the influence of the Ancestral Herd and behavioral genetics are of primary importance in determining the outcome of races on the Triple Crown Trail. In the book I co-authored with Kerry Thomas, Horse Profiling: The Secret to Motivating Equine Athletes, published in 2012 by Trafalgar Square Books, we noted that the behavior or Emotional Conformation of the horse is the final piece of the breeding puzzle necessary to produce equine champions.
All of the Derby prep races for 2-year-old Thoroughbreds have been run, and we have an idea of who the competitors are on the trail. Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner New Year’s Day was retired last week with an injury. Let’s take a look at the top 20:
KENTUCKY DERBY 2014 LEADERBOARD
Individual Leaders ranking, total points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1. Havana, 14, Todd Pletcher, $660,000
2. Honor Code, 14, Shug McGaughey, $340,000
3. Tapiture, 12, Steve Asmussen, $120,738
4. Bond Holder, 11, Doug O’Neill, $273,000
5. New Year’s Day, 10, Bob Baffert, $1,100,000 – retired with sesamoid chip injury
6. Rise Up, 10, Tom Amoss, $782,633
7. We Miss Artie, 10, Todd Pletcher, $242,000
8. Ami’s Holiday, Josie Carrroll, $120,635
9. Cleburne, 10, Dale Romans, $102,044
10. Casigaupo, 5, Mario Morales, $271,050
11. Cairo Prince, 4, Kiaran McGlaughlin, $230,000
12. Dance With Fate, 4, Peter Eurton, $110,000
13. Smartie’s Echo, 4, Anne Smith, $80,000
14. Laddie’s Boy, 4, Chuck Perry, $39,719
15. Smart Cover, 4, Dale Romans, $32,918
16. Big Bazinga, 4, Sandra Dominguez, $29,139
17. Ride On Curlin, 3, William Gowin, $64,387
18. Strong Mandate, 2, D. Wayne Lukas, $382,500
19. Tamarando, 2, Jerry Hollendorfer, $270,000
20. Go Greeley, 2, John Ross, $220,601
21. Rankhaspriveleges, 2, Ken McPeek, $100,000
Last year was the first time that Churchill Downs implemented a point system to determine the eligibility of horses entering the Derby starting gate. I like the new system, but the points earned next year are higher and a lot of owners and trainers may wait until then to enter their lightly-raced horses in hope of earning enough points necessary to get into the Derby starting gate.
At this time last year, Trainer Todd Pletcher had three colts – Shanghai Bobby, Violence and Overanalyze – in the top five of 2013 Derby qualifiers and a fourth colt – Capo Bastone – was in the top 20. Currently, Pletcher tops the leaderboard for the 2014 Kentucky Derby with Havana in the number one spot and We Miss Artie is ranked seventh.
Last December, of the top 20 horses on the leaderboard only three qualified to enter the 2013 Derby starting gate: Goldencents, ranked second, Overanalyze, ranked fifth, and eighteenth-ranked Normandy Invasion. Of those three, Normandy Invasion was the only one to finish in the exotics with a fourth-place finish. Goldencents finished in seventeenth place and Overanalyze finished eleventh.
I can see a similar scenario, perhaps, playing out next year with just a few of the current top 20 horses qualifying to run in the 2014 Derby. Of the current top 20 qualifiers, there are only a few I’m interested in to see how they will fare on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
So, for this outlook, I’ve decided to trim the list of top 20 qualifiers to four horses that, perhaps, may have the best potential to enter the Derby starting gate. Also, in keeping with the spirit of Christmas, I’ve compiled a Derby “wish list” of six horses who have yet to earn any Derby points that I would like to see in the 2014 Derby starting gate. Here’s a look at my picks:
1. Strong Mandate
2. Honor Code
4. Rise Up
Derby Wish List
1. Global View
1. Mr. Speaker
4. Shared Belief
5. Top Billing
6. Pablo del Monte
So if these young horses stay healthy and my Derby wish list comes true, here’s a look at my top ten:
1. Global View
1. Mr. Speaker
4. Shared Belief
5. Top Billing
6. Strong Mandate
7. Honor Code
9. Rise Up
10. Pablo del Monte
Of the horses on my Derby wish list, three of them are sire-line descendants of the Mr. Prospector Ancestral Herd: Berezovsky, Shared Belief and Top Billing. Global View and Pablo del Monte are sire-line descendants of the Northern Dancer Ancestral Herd. And Mr. Speaker is a sire-line descendant of the Bold Ruler Ancestral Herd. (See notes about the Mr. Prospector, Northern Dancer and Bold Ruler Ancestral Herds at the end of this blog.)
It’s still early on the Derby trail and the recently retired New Year’s Day would have been my number one pick of the current Derby qualifiers. However, the three young horses I’m most interested in are Berezovsky, Mr. Speaker and Global View. All three of them have never raced on the dirt and neither of them have earned any Derby points. I especially like their breeding and think they may have the potential to become a Classic Champion Thoroughbred. However, one never knows how these young horses will fare on the Derby Trail. Let’s take a look at my picks:
BEREZOVSKY, a bay gelding by Street Cry (IRE) out of Balanchine by Storm Bird, was foaled on February 11, 2011. A homebred of Darley Stallions and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Berezovsky is trained by Eoin Harty and he has a 1-1-0 record in two starts.
Of my top three picks, Berezovsky still has much to prove as he has yet to run in route race or win a stakes race. However, Berezovsky was heavily bet in his maiden debut and he was the 9-5 favorite in his second start when he broke his maiden in impressive style to win by one length in a 7½-furlong race at Turf Paradise on December 8. The video replay of that race can be viewed at Equibase if you are a subscriber or you can watch the race at Twin Spires if you have a wagering account. Here’s the chart call:
BEREZOVSKY well placed while saving ground, eased off the inside in upper stretch and raced between rivals while challenging for the lead then proved best to the wire.
Despite his light seasoning, Berezovsky has a truly classic pedigree and if he lives up to his breeding, he has the potential to become a Classic Champion Thoroughbred.
Street Cry, the sire of Berezovsky, was an outstanding racehorse and homebred of Sheikh Mohammed and his most notable stakes victories were in the 8-furlong UAE 2,000 Guineas (G1), the 10-furlong Dubai World Cup (G1), the 9-furlong Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) and the 10-furlong Maktoum Challenge Round 3 (G2).
Storm Bird, the damsire of Berezovsky, was an outstanding two year old who raced in Europe. He was undefeated in five starts and his most notable victories include the Anglesey Stakes, National Stakes, Larkspur Stakes and Dewhurst Stakes. Storm Bird was injured in his first start as a three year old and retired to stud.
Berezovsky, is bred on a nick with the Ancestral Herd of Mr. Prospector over the Ancestral Herd of Northern Dancer and, since 1990, that nick has been the most successful nick on the Triple Crown Trail, producing a total of 12 Classic Champion Thoroughbreds: Drosselmeyer (2010 Belmont), Lookin at Lucky (2010 Preakness), Summer Bird (2009 Belmont), Curlin (2007 Preakness), Street Sense (2007 Kentucky Derby), Jazil (2006 Belmont), Birdstone (2004 Belmont), Empire Maker (2003 Belmont), Fusaichi Pegasus (2000 Kentucky Derby), Victory Gallop (1998 Belmont), Thunder Gulch (1995 Kentucky Derby & Belmont), Hansel (1991 Preakness & Belmont).
Of those 12 classic champions, three of them are bred on the same Ancestral Herd nick with Berezovsky’s damsire, Storm Bird: Summer Bird, Birdstone and Thunder Gulch. Other offspring of the Mr. Prospector Ancestral Herd when bred to Storm Bird mares include the multiple graded-stakes winners: Court Vision, Commentator, and Thorn Song.
In addition to sire lines, the Ancestral Herd influence of tail-female lines is also important. Berezovsky is a tail-female line descendant of Sweet Hawthorn (Family 4-k) which descends from the foundation mare Layton Barb Mare (Family 4), and Family 4 has produced the most Kentucky Derby winners with a total of 17 champions: 4-r = Monarchos (2001). 4-d = Real Quiet (1998). 4-m = Sunny’s Halo (1983). 4-n = Canonero (1971). 4-d = Majestic Prince (1969). 4-m = Venetian Way (1960). 4-m = Middleground (1950). 4-c = Assault-T (1946). 4-e = Gallahadion (1940). 4-m = Lawrin (1938). 4-n = Gallant Fox-T (1930). 4-r = Black Gold (1924). 4-r = Donau (1910). 4 = Wintergreen (1909). 4-r = Manuel (1899). 4-r = Halma (1895). 4-m = Day Star (1878). T-Triple Crown.
Balanchine, the dam of Berezovsky, was a Classic Champion Thoroughbred who in 1994 won the 12-furlong Irish Derby (Group 1) and the 12-furlong English Oaks Stakes (Group 1). Three of the dams on the tail-female line of Berezovsky – Morning Devotion, A Wind Is Rising and Queen Nasra – were Reines-de-Course mares.
It’s tempting to make Berezovsky my number one pick. But he hasn’t raced much yet and I haven’t heard or read any reports about how Berezovsky will be campaigned as a three year old. But, Berezovsky has classic breeding and if he shows any promise, I’d like to see him given a chance to prove himself on the Derby trail.
GLOBAL VIEW, a dark-bay colt by Galileo (IRE) out of Egyptian Queen by Storm Cat, was foaled February 1, 2011. Owned by Glen Hill Farm and trained by Thomas Proctor, Global View has compiled a 2-0-0 record in three starts. Global View finished fourth in his maiden debut. He followed that with a 1¾-length victory in the downhill turf course at Santa Anita, running 6½-furlongs in the blistering time of 1:13.56. Global View finished his racing season as a two year old with 1¼-length win in the one-mile Generous Stakes (G3) at Betfair Hollywood Park in a time of 1:36.25. Here’s the chart call and video replay:
GLOBAL VIEW angled in and stalked inside, moved up along the rail on the second turn, came out into the stretch, bid alongside the pacesetter in midstretch, gained the lead under urging past the eighth pole and inched away then held gamely.
Global View is a sire-line descendant of the Sadler’s Wells Ancestral Herd which is one of the most influential lines of the Northern Dancer Ancestral Herd. Galileo, the sire of Global View, grandsire Sadler’s Wells, and great grandsire Northern Dancer were all Classic Champion Thoroughbreds.
As a stallion, Galileo sired the Classic Champion Thoroughbreds: Frankel (2,000 Guineas), Ruler Of The World (Epsom Derby), Magician (Irish 2,000 Guineas), Roderic O’Connor (Irish 2,000 Guineas), Treasure Beach (Irish Derby), Soldier Of Fortune (Irish Derby), Cape Blanco (Irish Derby), Sixties Icon (St Leger) and New Approach (Epsom Derby).
Global View is bred on a nick of the Northern Dancer Ancestral Herd over the Northern Dancer Ancestral Herd and the best runner bred on that nick in the American Classics was Big Brown, winner of the 2008 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1). Other Classic Champion Thoroughbreds bred on the nick of the Northern Dancer Ancestral Herd over Northern Dancer include: Frankel, Magician, Roderic O’Connor, and Treve, winner of the 2013 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Storm Cat, the damsire of Global View, sired the 1994 Preakness Stakes (G1) and Belmont Stakes (G1) winner, Tabasco Cat. And Storm Cat is the grandsire of the 2011 Preakness Stakes winner, Shackleford.
As a damsire, Storm Cat’s best runner on the Derby Trail was Bodemeister who, sired by Empire Maker, finished second to I’ll Have Another in the 2012 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1).
Quiet American, the sire of Global View’s second dam, Warrior Queen, is also the sire of Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes winner, Real Quiet.
Global View is a tail-female line descendant of Family 4 which is the same tail-female family of Berezovsky. The immediate tail-female line of Global View descends from Lady Lumley (Family 4-j) while Ocean’s Answer, the fourth dam of Global View and his fifth dam, South Ocean, were Reines-de-Course mares. South Ocean also was the dam of Storm Bird, the second damsire of Global View.
Global View has yet to run on the dirt. However, he has a one of the classiest pedigrees on the trail and, if he lives up to his breeding, Global View has the potential to become a Classic Champion Thoroughbred.
MR. SPEAKER, a dark-bay colt by Pulpit out of Salute by Unbridled, was foaled on May 14, 2011. Owned and bred by Phipps Stable and trained by Shug McGaughey, Mr. Speaker is an attractive looking colt who’s compiled a 2-0-1 record in four starts on the turf.
In his maiden debut, Mr. Speaker finished sixth in an 8½-furlong race on the turf at Saratoga on August 24. He followed that with a third-place finish in a mile race on the turf at Belmont Park on September 21 and, since then, he’s won two back-to-back victories, including an impressive 2¾-length win in the Dania Beach Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park on December 21.
I especially liked Mr. Speaker’s win in the Dania Beach. He showed a lot of grit and determination when he charged through on the rail to victory. Here’s the chart call and video replay:
MR. SPEAKER settled toward the rear racing outside a foe two wide on the first turn, moved ahead of that one to begin the run down the backstretch and then angled in to the rail, continued to move up smartly inside foes to reach contention on the far turn, got through along the rail in upper stretch, drew clear.
After the race, McGaughey said that the Holy Bull would probably be the next start for Mr. Speaker. If he continues to improve, Mr. Speaker will be tough on the trail and he has the breeding to be a Classic Champion Thoroughbred.
Pulpit, the sire of Mr. Speaker, did not race as a two year old. But, he was competitive on the trail as a three year old, compiling a 4-1-0 record en route to the 1997 Kentucky Derby where he finished in fourth place, 6½-lengths and a head behind the victor, Silver Charm. Pulpit’s most notable stakes wins were in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) and the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G2).
A.P. Indy, grandsire of Mr. Speaker and Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, the great grandsire of Mr. Speaker, were Classic Champion Thoroughbreds. (See notes, below, about A.P Indy and Seattle Slew in analysis of Honor Code.) Unbridled, the damsire of Mr. Speaker, was a Classic Champion Thoroughbred and he’s the damsire of Orb, winner of the 2013 Kentucky Derby.
Mr. Speaker is bred on a nick of the Bold Ruler Ancestral Herd over the Mr. Prospector Ancestral Herd and that nick has been very successful producing the Classic Champion Thoroughbreds Orb and Bernardini, winner of the 2006 Preakness Stakes (G1). In addition, that nick also produced Orb’s sire, Malibu Moon, as well as Pulpit, Mineshaft and Tapit.
Mr. Speaker is a tail-female line descendant of the foundation mare Old Bald Peg (Family 6) and his immediate family descends from Cream Cheeks (Family 6-a). Three of the dams on his tail-female line – Personal Ensign, Grecian Banner and Dorine – were multiple graded-stakes winners and Reines-de-Course mares. Also, Personal Ensign and Grecian Banner were both selected as Kentucky Broodmare of the Year. Personal Ensign foaled the outstanding racehorses Miner’s Mark, My Flag and Traditionally. Grecian Banner foaled the graded-stakes winners Personal Flag and Personal Ensign.
In addition to his breeding, one thing I especially like about Mr. Speaker is that he’s never raced less than a mile and that was a key component for training 2-year-old Thoroughbreds that Burchard von Oettingen wrote about in his book: Horse Breeding In Theory And Practice, published by Sampson Low, Marston & Co., 1909. Von Oettingen was director of the German Royal Stud and he was a pioneer in making farm life as natural as possible for the horse.
I wrote about von Oettingen in chapter four of my book and one thing I’m most proud of is that the dominant theme throughout Horse Profiling is the importance of providing for the physical and, especially, the emotional wellbeing of the horse. You can see what I wrote about von Oettingen, and learn more about his theories, in my Thursday, July 18, 2013 blog.
SHARED BELIEF, a dark-bay gelding by Candy Ride out of Common Hope by Storm Cat, was foaled on February 15, 2011. Owned by the Jungle Racing group and trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Shared Belief is undefeated in three starts with a 20½-length combined margin of victory. Shared Belief was a brilliant 7-length winner in his maiden debut, running 6-furlongs in a time of 1:09.53. He followed that with a 7¾-length romp in the 7-furlong Hollywood Prevue Stakes (G3), posting a time of 1:22.17. Shared Belief finished his 2-year-old racing season with a 5¾-length victory in the 8½-furlong CashCall Futurity (G1) in a time 1:42.16. Here’s the chart call and video replay:
SHARED BELIEF stalked the pace inside then a bit off the rail into the second turn, bid three deep into the stretch to gain the lead, kicked clear and drew off under an energetic hand ride until the final stages.
Shared Belief, like Berezovsky, is a sire-line descendant of the Mr. Prospector Ancestral Herd and he, too, is bred on a nick of the Mr. Prospector Ancestral Herd over the Northern Dancer Ancestral Herd.
Candy Ride, the sire of Shared Belief, did not race as a two year old but, as a three year old, he was champion miler in Argentina. As a four year old, Candy Ride was shipped to America where ran in three races. In the 10-furlong Pacific Classic Stakes (G1), Candy Ride was able to carry his speed to a 3¼-length victory the in a record time of 1:59.11. During his racing career, Candy Ride was undefeated in six starts.
Three of Candy Ride’s top 10 runners are bred on a nick with the Northern Dancer Ancestral Herd: Sidney’s Candy, Capt. Candyman Can and Evita Argentina. Storm Cat, the damsire of Shared Belief, is also the damsire of Sidney’s Candy and he’s the second damsire of Capt. Candyman Can and Evita Argentina.
Sidney’s Candy won the Santa Anita Derby and finished seventeenth in the Kentucky Derby. Candy Ride’s other good runner on the trail was Chocolate Candy who’s bred on a nick with the Bold Ruler Ancestral Herd. Chocolate Candy finished second in the Santa Anita Derby and he was fifth in the Kentucky Derby. So, it will be interesting to see if Shared Belief can fare better than they did.
Shared Belief is a tail-female line descendant of Davill’s Old Woodcock Mare (Family 19) and that family has never produced a Kentucky Derby winner.
Shared Belief has brilliant, good speed and, as a three year old, he should be competitive up to 9-furlongs on the Derby Trail. However, the test of how far Shared Belief can carry his speed and whether he has any classic potential will be evident when he stretches out to 9-furlongs.
TOP BILLING, a chestnut colt by Curlin out of Parade Queen by A. P. Indy, was foaled on April 15, 2011. A homebred of William Farish and E. J. Hudson, Jr., and trained by Shug McGaughey, Top Billing won his first and only start by an impressive 5¼-lengths, running six furlongs over a muddy track at Laurel Park. Here’s the chart call and video replay:
TOP BILLING, steadied when shuffled back soon after the break, was well back early, circled the turn three deep, was put to a drive in upper stretch, remained in the three path, split horses inside the eighth pole then eagerly pulled away.
I love the way Top Billing split horses in the stretch to charge to the lead and I thought he showed a lot of professionalism for such a young colt. This impressive performance of Top Billing was brought to my attention in a tweet by fellow blogger J.J. Hysell who also writes about the young horses on the Derby Trail and you can follow her “In The Money” blog at this link. Here’s her tweet:
@trifectabox 11 Dec
: Honor Code is all the rage, but Shug's other colt, Top Billing, is likely a
better Kentucky Derby prospect.
J.J., I agree. However, Top Billing has a lot of catching up to do and it remains to be seen how he will fare on the Derby Trail. I look for Top Billing to be competitive and, if he continues to improve, he could move up on this list.
Curlin, the sire of Top Billing, is a sire-line descendant of the Mr. Prospector Ancestral Herd and he’s bred on a nick with Deputy Minister who’s an influential descendant of the Northern Dancer Ancestral Herd. (See note, below, about Deputy Minister in analysis of Strong Mandate.)
Curlin was a Classic Champion Thoroughbred who, for many years, was the all-time leading money earner but is now ranked second with $10,501,800 in earnings. Curlin won the 2007 Preakness Stakes (G1), finished second in the Belmont Stakes (G1) and he was third in the Kentucky Derby (G1). In addition, Curlin won the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1), Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1), twice, Dubai World Cup (G1), Stephen Foster Handicap (G1), Woodward Stakes (G1), and the UAE Jaguar Trophy Handicap.
In his first crop at stud, Curlin got Palace Malice who won the 2013 Belmont Stakes (G1). Like Curlin, Palace Malice is also bred on a nick with the Northern Dancer Ancestral Herd.
Parade Queen, the dam of Top Billing, was a multiple graded-stakes winner who compiled a 6-4-2 record in 16 starts with $419,357 in earnings. The tail-female line of Top Billing descends from the foundation mare Tregonwells Natural Barb Mare (Family 1). His immediate family descends from Chelandry (Family 1-n) and that is the same family that produced the 1984 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner, Swale. Popingoal, the sixth dam of Swale, is also the ninth dam of Top Billing. In addition, Top Billing’s tail-female line is reinforced by the Classic Champion Thoroughbreds A.P. Indy, Roberto and Nijinsky.
Top Billing has the breeding to be competitive on the Derby Trail and I’m looking forward to watching him run as a three year old.
STRONG MANDATE, a bay colt by Tiznow out of Clear Mandate by Deputy Minister, was foaled on February 8, 2011. Owned by Robert Baker and William Mack, and trained by D. Wayne Lukas, Strong Mandate has compiled a 2-0-1 record in five starts. Strong Mandate finished fifth in his maiden debut. He then won two back-to-back races at Saratoga where he broke his maiden by 4½-lengths on August 17 and followed that performance with a powerful stretch run over a sloppy track in the 7-furlong Hopeful Stakes (G1) to win by a commanding 9¾-lengths. Strong Mandate finished seventh in the Foxwoods Champagne Stakes (G1) and closed his racing season with a third-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1). Here’s the chart call and video replay:
STRONG MANDATE was used four wide to join the pace fray past the seven eighths marker, disputed the issue three deep past the five eighths marker, dropped in going clear around the far turn, met the bid of HAVANA past the five sixteenths marker, gave chase past furlong grounds and kept on willingly to the wire.
Strong Mandate is a sire-line descendant of the Man O’ War Ancestral Herd and the last descendant of that herd to win the Kentucky Derby was War Admiral who won the 1937 Triple Crown.
Tiznow, the sire of Strong Mandate, did not race as a two year old. And it took him three tries as a three year old before he finally broke his maiden in impressive style with an 8½-length romp running 8½-furlongs in a maiden special weight at Hollywood Park.
Unlike Strong Mandate, Tiznow was not successful in sprint racing but he was an outstanding router who won 10-furlong Super Derby (G1) by six lengths and the Santa Anita Handicap (G1) by five lengths.
The most notable 10-furlong wins of Tiznow came in the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) where he defeated the European champion Giant’s Causeway by a neck. In 2001, Tiznow defended his title of champion in Breeders’ Cup Classic when he defeated the European invader and formidable winner of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Sakhee, by a nose.
Deputy Minister, the damsire of Strong Mandate, is a descendant of the Northern Dancer Ancestral Herd and he’s a proven broodmare sire of the Belmont Stakes (G1) winners Sarava (2002), Jazil (2006) and Rags to Riches (2007). In addition, Deputy Minister also is the sire of the Classic Champion Thoroughbreds Awesome Again and Touch Gold. And he’s the grandsire of Preakness Stakes (G1) winner Oxbow.
Clear Mandate, the dam of Strong Mandate, was a multiple grade-stakes winner who compiled a 10-6-4 record in 31 starts with $1,085,588 in earnings. Her most notable stakes wins were in the Cotillion Handicap (G2), Shuvee Handicap (G1), John A. Morris Handicap (G1) and the Three Chimneys Spinster Stakes (G1).
The tail-female line of Strong Mandate descends from the foundation mare Vitner Mare (Family 9) and his immediate tail-female line descends from Toxophilte Mare (Family 9-f). Likely Exchange, the third dam of Strong Mandate, was the dam 1985 Belmont Stakes winner Crème Fraiche. Strong Mandate’s seventh dam, Escutcheon, was the fourth dam of Coastal, winner of the 1979 Belmont Stakes (G1).
Strong Mandate is a talented colt who’s had more success at this stage of his racing career than his sire, Tiznow. It remains to be seen if Strong Mandate has the potential to be a Classic Champion Thoroughbred, but he should be competitive on the trail. The strong influence of the Deputy Minister Ancestral Herd along with the influence of the tail-female line may be good indicators that Strong Mandate’s best shot at classic success could be later in the season, perhaps in the Belmont Stakes (G1).
HONOR CODE, a dark-bay ridgling by A. P. Indy out of Serena’s Cat by Storm Cat, was foaled on March 1, 2011. Trained by Shug McGaughey and owned by Lane’s End Racing and Dell Ridge Farm, LLC, Honor Code finished his 2-year-old racing season with a 2-1-0 record in three starts, including a second-place finish in the Foxwoods Champagne Stakes (G1) and a first-place finish in the Remsen Stakes (G2). Here’s the chart call and video replay:
HONOR CODE stumbled slightly at the start, recovered to be just off the pace early on through the first turn, pulled his way to attend the pace from just off the inside, came under light coaxing into the far turn and took closer order on the leader, raced between foes nearing the quarter pole, got set down at that station, was in the midst of seizing command when CAIRO PRINCE went to the front narrowly in upper stretch, dug in inside that foe through the final eighth steadily gaining inside fighting on gamely to the wire and just got up on the wire.
The fractional splits for that race were terribly slow and the final time of 1:52.92 was the slowest recorded for the race since The Silver Move won the 1996 Remsen in 1:53.54. Honor Code is a talented colt. But, of the young colts trained by McGaughey, I like Mr. Speaker and Top Billing the best.
Honor Code is a sire-line descendant of the Bold Ruler Ancestral Herd. He’s bred on a nick with the Northern Dancer Ancestral Herd and he also has the breeding to be competitive on the Derby Trail.
A.P. Indy, the sire of Honor Code, finished fourth in his maiden debut. He then won five races in a row en route to the 1992 Kentucky Derby including victories in the Hollywood Futurity (G1), San Rafael Stakes (G2) and the Santa Anita Derby (G1). On Derby day, A.P. Indy was scratched with a sore hoof, but he later went on to win Classic Champion honors in the Belmont Stakes. Honor Code’s grandsire, Seattle Slew, was an outstanding racehorse and winner of the 1977 Triple Crown.
To date, the best competitors from the A.P. Indy Ancestral Herd to finish in the top four of the Kentucky Derby include: Orb (2013) finished first, Nehro (2011), Ice Box (2010) and Aptitude (2000) finished second, Steppenwolfer (2006) finished third, Normandy Invasion (2013), Don’t Get Mad (2005), Atswhatimtalknbout (2003) and Pulpit (1997) finished in fourth place. In addition, A.P. Indy sired the 2007 Belmont Stakes winner Rags to Riches and the 2006 Preakness Stakes winner Bernardini.
Storm Cat, the damsire of Honor Code, has had an influence on the Derby Trail and he’s also the damsire of Global View and Shared Belief (see their analysis).
Serena’s Cat, the dam of Honor Code, was a stakes winner of the Klassy Breifcase Stakes who compiled a 4-2-0 record in 12 starts with $131,391 in earnings. Serena’s Tune, the second dam of Honor Code, was a multiple stakes winner who compiled a 7-0-0 record in 14 starts and $337,260 in earnings. Her most notable wins were in the La Habra Stakes, Phoenix Stakes and Victoria Lass Handicap. Honor Codes’ third dam, Serena’s Song, was an outstanding multiple graded-stakes winner and who compiled an 18-11-3 record in 38 starts with $3,283,388 in career earnings. Serena’s Song was the 1995 Eclipse Champion Three-Year-Old Filly and in 2002 she was inducted into National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.
Honor Code is a tail-female line descendant of the foundation mare Lord Darcy’s Blacklegs Royal Mare (Family 7) and that family has never produced a Kentucky Derby winner.
Honor Code is a talented colt. But, he will need to improve his game if he is going to be competitive on the trail as a three year old and that is why he is not higher on my list.
HAVANA, a grey, roan colt by Dunkirk out of Missy Turtle by Kyle’s Our Man, was foaled on April 22, 2011. Owned by Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith, and trained by Todd Pletcher, Havana has compiled a 2-1-0 record in 3 starts with a win by a neck in the Foxwoods Champagne Stakes (G1) and a second-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1). Here’s the chart call and video replay:
HAVANA, three to four wide nearing the first turn, rated kindly off a contested pace, responded when asked leaving the far turn, bid two to three wide to engage STRONG MANDATE heading into the quarter pole, kicked clear while drifting out a bit in upper stretch, was hand ridden from there and failed to contain the winner.
Havana is a sire-line descendant of the Mr. Prospector Ancestral Herd and he’s bred on a nick with the Man O’ War Ancestral Herd. Smarty Jones, winner of the 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, and Real Quiet, winner of the 1998 Kentucky Derby and Preakness, were also bred on the Ancestral Herd nick of Mr. Prospector over Man O’ War.
Dunkirk, the sire of Havana, was a multiple graded-stakes placed racehorse who finished second in the Florida Derby (G1) en route to an eleventh-place finish in the 2009 Kentucky Derby. Dunkirk finished his racing career with a second-place finish in the Belmont Stakes (G1).
Kyle’s Our Man, the damsire of Havana, was a multiple graded-stakes winner who compiled a 3-0-3 record in 13 starts with $280,377 in career earnings. His most notable wins were in the Nashua Stakes (G3) and Gotham Stakes (G2). Kyle’s Our Man finished third in the Remsen Stakes (G2) and Withers Stakes (G2).
Missy Turtle, the dam of Havana, never ran in a stakes race and she compiled a 4-5-5 record in 26 starts with $103,283 in earnings. Redding Ridge, the second dam of Havana, was a multiple stakes winner who compiled a 7-4-4 record in 37 starts and $164,403 in earnings. Her most notable wins were in the Dearly Precious Stakes, Alma North Handicap and the Dahlia Stakes. Third dam, Burma Belle, and fourth dam, Rama Lass, were unraced.
Havana is a tail-female line descendant of the foundation mare Sister to Stripling (Family 16) and his immediate family descends from Little Agnes (Family 16-c). Strike The Gold, winner of the 1991 Kentucky Derby, is also a tail-female descendant of Family 16-c and his sixth dam, Cottage Cheese, is the ninth dam of Havana.
RISE UP, a bay colt by Rockport Harbor out of Appenzil by Johannesburg, was foaled on April 22, 2011. Owned by Paul and Andrena Van Doren, and trained by Tom Amoss, Rise Up has compiled a 4-1-0 record in six starts, including wins in the 6-furlong Mountaineer Juvenile Stakes, the one mile Jean Lafitte Stakes and the 8½-furlong Delta Downs Jackpot (G3). Here’s the chart call and video replay of the Jackpot:
RISE UP set a well handled pace from the start, was in control heading into the far turn then drew off in upper stretch while leading throughout.
Rise up is a sire-line descendant of the Mr. Prospector Ancestral Herd and he’s bred on a nick with the Northern Dancer Ancestral Herd.
Rockport Harbor, the sire of Rise Up, was a competitive racehorse who compiled a 5-1-0 record in eight career starts. His most notable graded-stakes win as a two year old was in the one mile Nashua Stakes (G3) and the 9-furlong Remsen Stakes (G2). Despite his impressive record, Rockport Harbor’s race times were slow and he never competed in the Kentucky Derby.
Kentucky-bred Johannesburg, the damsire of Rise Up, was an undefeated racehorse in England, Ireland and France who was shipped to America in 2001 where he won Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1) and was eventually selected as the Eclipse Champion Two-Year-Old Colt and the Cartier Two-Year-Old Champion Colt. In his debut as a three year old, Johannesburg finished second at the Curragh in Ireland and was then shipped to America where he finished eighth in the Kentucky Derby. During his racing career, Johannesburg compiled a 7-1-0 record in 10 starts with $1,014,585 in earnings.
Rise Up is a tail-female line descendant of the foundation mare Sedbury Royal Mare (Family 13) and his immediate family descends from Stray Shot (Family 13-c). The most notable classic winner produced by the female family of Rise Up was Ferdinand, winner of the 1986 Kentucky Derby (G1).
Rise Up has shown good early speed in all of his races. But, his finish times are slower than what I like to see in a colt on the trail.
PABLO DEL MONTE, a chestnut colt by Giant’s Causeway out of One Hot Wish by Bring the Heat, was foaled on March 31, 2011. A homebred owned and trained by Wesley Ward, Pablo del Monte won his maiden debut in a 4½-furlong sprint race last April at Keeneland by an impressive five lengths. He then was given a six-month break and came back to Keeneland in October where he won a 6½-furlong allowance race, again in impressive style, by 7½-lengths. After that race, the connections of Mrs. John Magnier, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor purchased a percentage of Pablo del Monte who finished his 2-year-old racing season with a fifth-place finish in the Generous Stakes (G3). Here’s the chart call and video replay:
PABLO DEL MONTE had speed outside rivals then stalked off the rail, continued three deep on the second turn and into the stretch, drifted in a bit in deep stretch and lacked the needed late kick.
In the Generous Stakes, Pablo del Monte was beaten by Global View by only 2½-lengths and if he improves off of that race, he could be competitive on the Derby Trail.
Like Global View, Pablo del Monte is a sire-line descendant of the Northern Dancer Ancestral Herd and he’s bred on a nick with the Nasrullah Ancestral. His nick is very similar to that of Creative Cause who finished fifth in the 2012 Kentucky Derby. However, at the end of his 2-year-old racing season, Creative Cause was farther along in his development than Pablo del Monte.
Giant’s Causeway, the sire of Pablo del Monte, was undefeated in three starts as a 2-year-old (all at 7-furlongs) – winning the Group 3 Futurity Stakes and the Group 1 Prix de la Salamandre Stakes. As a 3-year-old, Giant’s Causeway was 6-4-0 in 10 starts, winning from 7- to 10-furlongs, and he was the 2000 Cartier Racing Awards European Horse of the Year.
Bring the Heat, the damsire of Pablo del Monte, was stakes-placed in the Real Good Deal Stakes and had a 3-1-1 record in seven starts with $121,260 in earnings. In Excess, the second damsire of Pablo del Monte, was a good router and multiple graded-stakes winner who compiled an 11-2-3 record in 25 starts with $1,736,733 in career earnings. In 1991, In Excess set a new track record of 1:58.33 in the 10-furlong Suburban Handicap (G1), earning a 120 Beyer Speed Figure for that performance.
One Hot Wish, the dam of Pablo del Monte, never placed in a stakes race. But in her maiden debut at Keeneland she set a new track record, running 4½-furlongs in 48.87. One Hot Wish compiled a 2-1-0 record in seven starts and earned $60,080.
Pablo del Monte is a tail-female line descendant of the previously mentioned Family 4 and his immediate family descends from Cub Mare (Family 4-r). Overall, the line of family 4 has produced five Kentucky Derby winners: 4-r = Monarchos (2001). 4-r = Black Gold (1924). 4-r = Donau (1910). 4-r = Manuel (1899). 4-r = Halma (1895).
Pablo del Monte is scheduled to run in the Gulstream Park Derby on New Year’s Day. If he runs good in that race and eventually qualifies for the Derby, Pablo del Monte could, perhaps, move up on this list.
HONORABLE MENTIONS, Bond Holder is a colt who’s been on my watch list for some time. But, so far, he’s not lived up to my expectations. Abundio also has been on my watch list for some time and he’s an unraced, full-brother to Eskendereya who was my 2010 Kentucky Derby favorite before he was taken off the trail with an injury. Abundio has been training at Calder and if he qualifies for the Derby he could, perhaps, get ranked on my top ten list. Other honorable mentions include: Midnight Hawk, Ichiban Warrior, Coup de Grace, Rankhasprivileges, Gold Hawk and Tapiture. And two fillies: Gambler’s Rose and Special Wish.
MR. PROSPECTOR ANCESTRAL HERD – On the Triple Crown Trail, The Mr. Prospector Ancestral Herd has been a powerful influence and during the past 24 years – since 1990 – descendants of that herd have sired 29 Classic Champion Thoroughbreds who have won 38 of the past 72 Triple Crown races for a 53% strike rate:
Palace Malice (2013 Belmont), I’ll Have Another (2012 Kentucky Derby, Preakness), Ruler On Ice (2011 Belmont), Drosselmeyer (2010 Belmont) Lookin At Lucky (2010 Preakness) Mine That Bird (2009 Kentucky Derby), Summer Bird (2009 Belmont), Curlin (2007 Preakness), Street Sense (2007 Kentucky Derby), Jazil (2006 Belmont), Afleet Alex (2005 Preakness, Belmont) Birdstone (2004 Belmont), Smarty Jones (2004 Kentucky Derby, Preakness), Empire Maker (2003 Belmont), Funny Cide (2003 Kentucky Derby, Preakness), War Emblem (2002 Kentucky Derby, Preakness), Point Given (2001 Preakness, Belmont), Commendable (2000 Belmont), Red Bullet (2000 Preakness), Fusaichi Pegasus (2000 Kentucky Derby), Lemon Drop Kid (1999 Belmont), Victory Gallop (1998 Belmont), Real Quiet (1998 Kentucky Derby, Preakness), Editor’s Note (1996 Belmont), Grindstone (1996 Kentucky Derby), Timber Country (1995 Preakness), Thunder Gulch (1995 Kentucky Derby, Belmont), Hansel (1991 Preakness, Belmont) Unbridled (1990 Kentucky Derby).
NORTHERN DANCER ANCESTRAL HERD – Since 1984, there have been 87 races on the Triple Crown Trail and 20 (23%) of those races have been won by a total of 17 sire-line descendants of the Northern Dancer Ancestral Herd: Oxbow (2013 Preakness), Union Rags (2012 Belmont), Shackleford (2011 Preakness), Rachel Alexandra (2009 Preakness), Big Brown (2008 Kentucky Derby, Preakness), Charismatic (1999 Kentucky Derby, Preakness), Touch Gold (1997 Belmont), Louis Quatorze (1996 Preakness), Tabasco Cat (1994 Preakness, Belmont), Sea Hero (1993 Kentucky Derby), Pine Bluff (1992 Preakness), Summer Squall (1990 Preakness), Go and Go (1990 Belmont), Bet Twice (1987 Belmont), Danzig Connection (1986 Belmont), Ferdinand (1986 Kentucky Derby), Gate Dancer (1984 Preakness).
BOLD RULER ANCESTRAL HERD – The Ancestral Herd of Bold Ruler dominated the Triple Crown Trail during the decade of the 1970’s and, overall, it has produced nine Kentucky Derby winners: Orb (2013), Swale (1984), Spectacular Bid (1979), Seattle Slew (1977), Bold Forbes (1976), Foolish Pleasure (1975), Cannonade (1974), Secretariat (1973) and Dust Commander (1970).
Since 1970, Bold Ruler Ancestral Herd produced six Preakness Stakes winners: Bernardini (2006), Risen Star (1988), Spectacular Bid (1979), Seattle Slew (1977), Master Derby (1975) and Secretariat (1973). Aloma’s Ruler, winner of the 1982 Preak-ness Stakes, is a descendant of the Never Bend branch of the Nasrullah Ancestral Herd.
Also, since 1970, the Bold Ruler Ancestral Herd has produced eight Belmont Stakes winners: Rags to Riches (2007), A.P. Indy (1992), Risen Star (1988), Swale (1984), Caveat (1983), Seattle Slew (1977), Bold Forbes (1976) and Secretariat (1973).
2014 DERBY QUALIFIERS – So far on the Derby Trail, eight of the top 20 Derby qualifiers (40%) are sire-line descendants of the Mr. Prospector Ancestral Herd: Rise Up, Havana, Cairo Prince, Dance With Fate, Smarty’s Echo, Smart Cover, Ride On Curlin and Go Greeley. Since 1990, the Mr. Prospector Ancestral Herd has dominated the Triple Crown Trail.
Four of the top 20 qualifiers (25%) are sire-line descendants of the Northern Dancer Ancestral Herd: We Miss Artie, Ami’s Holiday, Cleburne and Big Bazinga. In addition, four more qualifiers (25%) are sire-line descendants of the Bold Ruler Ancestral Herd: Honor Code, Tapiture, Bond Holder and Casigaupo.
Rounding out the top 20, Laddie Boy is a sire-line descendant of the Nasrullah Ancestral Herd. Strong Mandate and Tamarando are sire-line descendants of the Man O’ War Ancestral Herd. Rankhasprivileges is a sire-line descendant of the Buckpasser, Phalaris Ancestral Herd.
The news last week in a tweet from Paca Paca Farm that Summer Bird died from a bout of colic was truly sad. Summer Bird was my pick for the 2009 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Belmont Stakes (G1) and he was the first young colt of importance that I wrote about on my blog. When he was sold to Japan, that was a sad day, too, because that meant only a few of his offspring to would ever contend for the American Triple Crown.
On that note, I’m very anxious to see how a young colt, hip 2538, sold at the 2013 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, will fare as a two year old next year. The young colt, was purchased by agent and trainer Ken McPeek for $30,000 which was a real steal. The day after the purchase, I met Mr. McPeek in the hallway of the sales pavilion and told him that I thought his acquisition of hip 2538 was the shrewdest buy of the sale.
Now named Goo Bird, he’s the first yearling I’ve ever mentioned on my blog as a potential Classic Champion Thoroughbred prospect.
By Summer Bird out of Frost Flower by Sadler’s Wells, Goo Bird definitely has the breeding to be a Classic Champion Thoroughbred. He’s bred on a nick of the Mr. Prospector Ancestral Herd over the Northern Dancer Ancestral Herd and that nick has been the most successful on the Triple Crown Trail producing a total of 12 Classic Champion Thoroughbreds: Drosselmeyer (2010 Belmont), Lookin at Lucky (2010 Preakness), Summer Bird (2009 Belmont), Curlin (2007 Preakness), Street Sense (2007 Kentucky Derby), Jazil (2006 Belmont), Birdstone (2004 Belmont), Empire Maker (2003 Belmont), Fusaichi Pegasus (2000 Kentucky Derby), Victory Gallop (1998 Belmont), Thunder Gulch (1995 Kentucky Derby & Belmont), Hansel (1991 Preakness & Belmont).
If Goo Bird has any talent at all, Mr. McPeek will give him every opportunity to prove himself on the Triple Crown Trail and I’ll be cheering for this young colt of the fantastic Summer Bird.