An interesting traveler on the “Road To The Kentucky Derby” was discovered yesterday in New Mexico when post-time favorite Govenor Charlie set a new track record and easily won the 11th running of the $800,000 Sunland Derby (G3) at Sunland Park by a widening 5-lengths.
The win came as no surprise as I found him to be the most intriguing of nine horses that had been entered in the Derby. Here’s a look at my pre-race blog post about Govenor Charlie:
Of the two Baffert horses, Govenor Charlie is the most intriguing. He didn’t race as a 2-year-old, and with two career starts, he comes into today’s race off a maiden win last month at Santa Anita Park. Govenor Charlie showed good speed in that race and the time of 1:36.28 is what I like to see in a young colt on the Derby Trail.
It remains to be seen how far Govenor Charlie can carry his speed. However, his breeding indicates that he should be able to stretch out to 9-furlongs.
His sire, Midnight Lute, was an Eclipse champion male sprinter and two-time winner of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1). However, his grandsire, Real Quiet, won the 1998 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1) and lost by a nose to Victory Gallop in the Belmont Stakes (G1).
The dam of Govenor Charlie, Silverbulletway, was unraced. But his second dam, Silverbulletday, was an outstanding champion racehorse who compiled a 15-3-1 record in 23 starts with career earnings over $3 million.
Silverbulletday was competitive in sprints and route races and her most notable wins were in 9-furlong races such as the Kentucky Oaks (G1), Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2), Gazelle Handicap (G2), Davona Dale Stakes (G2), and the 10-furlong Alabama Stakes (G1).
At this point on the Derby trail, I won’t declare Govenor Charlie the winner of the Kentucky Derby until I see the other 9-furlong preps. But, Govenor Charlie has all the goods to be a superfecta horse:
1. He’s a descendant of the Mr. Prospector sire line which, since 1990, has produced 11 Kentucky Derby winners: I’ll Have Another (2012), Mine That Bird (2009), Street Sense (2007), Smarty Jones (2004), Funny Cide (2003), War Emblem (2002), Fusaichi Pegasus (2000), Real Quiet (1998), Grindstone (1996), Thunder Gulch (1995), Unbridled (1990). Most importantly, he’s a descendant of the Fappiano branch and that line produced four of those 11 Derby winners: Mine That Bird, Real Quiet, Grindstone and Unbridled.
2. He’s bred on the Mr. Prospector/Northern Dancer nick which, since 1990, has been the most successful nick in the American classic races with 12 winners and three of those were Kentucky Derby winners:
Drosselmeyer – 2010 Belmont
Sire line – Distorted Humor/Forty Niner/Mr. Prospector
Damsire line – Golden Ballet/Moscow Ballet/Nijinsky/Northern Dancer
Lookin at Lucky – 2010 Preakness
Sire Line – Smart Strike/Mr. Prospector
Damsire Line – Private Feeling/Belong To Me/Danzig/Northern Dancer
Summer Bird – 2009 Belmont
Sire line – Birdstone/Grindstone/Unbridled/Fappiano/Mr. Prospector
Damsire line – Hong Kong Squall/Summer Squall/Storm Bird/Northern Dancer
Curlin – 2007 Preakness
Sire line – Smart Strike/Mr. Prospector
Damsire line – Sherrifs Deputy/Deputy Minister/Vice Regent/Northern Dancer
Street Sense – 2007 Kentucky Derby
Sire line – Street Cry/Machiavellian/Mr. Prospector
Damsire line – Bedazzle/Dixieland Band/Northern Dancer
Jazil – 2006 Belmont
Sire line – Seeking The Gold/Mr. Prospector
Damsire line – Better Than Honour/Deputy Minister/Vice Regent/Northern Dancer
Birdstone – 2004 Belmont
Sire Line – Grindstone/Unbridled/Fappiano/Mr. Prospector
Damsire line – Dear Birdie/Storm Bird/Northern Dancer
Empire Maker – 2003 Belmont
Sire line – Unbridled/Fappiano/Mr. Prospector
Damsire line – Toussard/El Gran Senor/Northern Dancer
Fusaichi Pegasus – 2000 Kentucky Derby
Sire line – Mr. Prospector
Damsire line – Angel Fever/Danzig/Northern Dancer
Victory Gallop – 1998 Belmont
Sire line – Cryptoclearance/Fappiano/Mr. Prospector
Damsire line – Victorious Lil/Vice Regent/Northern Dancer
Thunder Gulch – 1995 Kentucky Derby & Belmont
Sire line – Gulch/Mr. Prospector
Damsire line – Line of Thunder/Storm Bird/Northern Dancer
Hansel – 1991 Preakness & Belmont
Sire line – Woodman/Mr. Prospector
Damsire line – Count On Bonnie/Dancing Count/Northern Dancer
3. His tail-female line traces back to the dam, Etoile Filante, and that is the same family that produced Kentucky Derby winner Grindstone, Preakness Stakes winner High Quest and Belmont Stakes winners Pass Catcher and Arts and Letters. He’s a tail-female line descendant of Mustard (Family 1-c), and since 1980, family number one has dominated the Kentucky Derby producing 10 classic winners: Animal Kingdom (1-h), Super Saver (1-x), Smarty Jones (1-x), Grindstone (1-c), Go For Gin (1-x), Sea Hero (1-x), Unbridled (1-r), Spend A Buck (1-s), Swale (1-n) and Genuine Risk (1-n).
4. He ran a mile in 1:34.96 and 9-furlongs in racehorse time of 1:47.54 and still had strong energy at the finish – outstanding!
5. He has close breeding to the ancestral herd.
6. He has the will to win.
7. Govenor Charlie is trained by Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert who also trained his sire Midnight Lute and his grandsire Real Quiet. Baffert has an intimate knowledge of colts from the Mr. Prospector sire line. He trained five Classic Champion Thoroughbreds and four of them are sire-line descendants of Mr. Prospector – Real Quiet, Point Given, War Emblem and Lookin At Lucky. Bodemeister, second-place finishers in the 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, is also a sire-line descendant Mr. Prospector and he’s bred on the Mr. Prospector/Northern Dancer nick.
Govenor Charlie is lightly-raced with only three career starts. I’d like to see him run in the Arkansas Derby to give him a little more foundation going into the Kentucky Derby.
It remains to be seen if Govenor Charlie has any classic potential. But, from this corner, it looks like he has all the goods.