© 2013, Calvin L. Carter
Anyone who’s followed my blog for any length of time knows that my study of Thoroughbred pedigrees and the late Federico Tesio, a world-renowned owner, breeder and trainer of Thoroughbred racehorses, has had a tremendous impact on how I determine if a young colt has star potential.
Since the creation of my blog in 2009, 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 and Tesio was the master at putting all the puzzle pieces together. In addition to pedigrees, past performances and the horse’s behavior, will to win, are also important factors I look at.
Tesio was keenly aware of the importance of behavior in determining champion Thoroughbreds. In Horse Profiling: The Secret to Motivating Equine Athletes, published by Trafalgar Square Books, Equine Behaviorist Kerry Thomas and I wrote that the horse’s Emotional Conformation, will to win, is the final piece of the breeding puzzle. Behavior was the key puzzle piece Tesio relied on to breed his numerous champion Thoroughbreds and, during his lifetime, he bred an incredible 21 Italiano Derby winners.
For some time now, I’ve been working on a way to classify and define my study of Tesio and pedigrees. The result of that research is what I call the Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile which is a numerical scoring system I use to determine if a colt may have the potential to be a classic champion. Here’s a look at the profiles of this year’s Derby field:
Horse, Odds Tesio Ancestral Classic Champion
Index Herd Thoroughbred
1. Revolutionary (10-1) 68.75 88.75 = 157.50
2. Lines of Battle (30-1) 48.75 104.38 = 153.13
3. Mylute (15-1) 49.38 100.00 = 149.38
4. Will Take Charge (20-1) 59.38 87.50 = 146.88
5. Frac Daddy (50-1) 56.88 86.25 = 143.13
6. Golden Soul (50-1) 61.78 81.25 = 143.03
7. Oxbow (30-1) 44.38 95.63 = 140.01
8. Black Onyx (50-1) 56.25 76.88 = 133.13
9. Orb (7-2) 44.38 83.75 = 128.13
10. Overanalyze (15-1) 55.00 73.13 = 128.13
11. Verrazano (4-1) 46.88 80.63 = 127.51
12. Palace Malice (20-1) 51.88 75.63 = 127.51
13. Giant Finish (50-1) 52.50 71.88 = 124.38
13. Vyjack (15-1) 54.38 67.50 = 121.88
14. Normandy Invasion (12-1) 63.75 56.86 = 120.61
15. Charming Kitten (20-1) 65.00 52.50 = 117.50
17. Falling Sky (50-1) 52.50 63.75 = 116.25
18. Itsmyluckyday (15-1) 45.00 70.00 = 115.00
19. Java’s War (15-1) 43.75 67.50 = 111.25
20. Goldencents (5-1) 45.00 51.25 = 96.25
For some perspective, the 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom has a Tesio Index of 46.88, his Ancestral Herd Index is 120.63 and his Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile is 167.51.
The Tesio Index and Ancestral Herd Index are proprietary key puzzle pieces that comprise the Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile. The Ancestral Herd Index is a new feature I recently added to calculate the profile and that was included because of my study of Tesio who bred closely to the Ancestral Herd.
The profile is tool I use to measure potential and it does not take into account other factors such as the horse’s will to win. Another thing to keep in mind is that horses, for many different reasons, sometimes fail to live up to their potential.
I was not surprised to see Revolutionary (10-1) at the top of this list. He is a colt I profiled last December in my 2013 Kentucky Derby Outlook, and his pedigree indicates that he may have classic potential.
Revolutionary is a descendant of the Cherokee Run Ancestral Herd and in my July 3 blog of 2009 I noted the importance of keeping track of colts from that line when they stretch out to route racing.
Over the years, the Cherokee Run line has produced a lot of good middle- distance runners such as War Pass, the sire of Revolutionary. Other good runners from that line include: Yonaguska, Kafwain, Sir Cherokee, During, Chelokee, Zanjero, Recapturetheglory, Musket Man and The Pamplemousse.
In addition, the distaff pedigree of Revolutionary is very strong and the tail-female line is reinforced with the stallions A.P. Indy, Hoist The Flag, Herbager and Court Martial.
Revolutionary’s dam, Runup The Colors, was a graded-stakes winner of the 10-furlong Alabama Stakes (G1). Up The Flagpole, the second dam of Revolutionary, won the 9-furlong Delaware Oaks (G2) and was a Reine-de-Course mare and second dam of 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft and Tomisue’s Delight.
Revolutionary’s third dam, The Garden Club, also was a Reine-de-Course mare. His tail-female line descends from the outstanding foundation mare La Troienne (Family 1-x) and her line has produced eight Classic Champion Thoroughbreds: Super Saver (2010), Smarty Jones (2004), Go For Gin (1994), Sea Hero (1993), Prairie Bayou (1993), Easy Goer (1989), Personality (1970) and Bimelech (1940).
Revolutionary comes into the Kentucky Derby (G1) undefeated in his last three starts including wins in the Withers Stakes (G3) and the Louisiana Derby (G2). In six career starts he’s never finished out of the money, however, he struggled as a 2-year-old and did not break his maiden until his fourth start going a mile over the inner track at Aqueduct.
Revolutionary is a versatile, tough colt who possesses the will to win – he’s demonstrated that in his come-from-behind victories in his last two races. In the stretch of the Louisiana Derby (G2), Mylute briefly took the lead from Revolutionary who dug in and fought back to win by a neck in the final strides.
His maiden win last December was also a key race as it highlighted the talent and versatility of Revolutionary. In that race, unlike his last two races, Revolutionary ran just off the pace, tracking the early leaders until the stretch, then he drew away to an easy 8½-length romp.
The ability of a young colt to win coming home from dead last or just off the pace is the kind of versatility and talent I like to see in a young horse I believe may have classic potential. With three-time Kentucky Derby-winner and Hall of Fame jockey Calvin Borel in the irons – he, too, possesses the will to win – I look for the pair to be tough competitors on the first Saturday in May.
In his gritty second-place finish to Revolutionary in the Louisiana Derby (G2), Mylute (15-1) also showed that he has the will to win. His sire, Midnight Lute, was an Eclipse champion male sprinter and two-time winner of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1).
Midnight Lute had breathing problems, so he was raced mostly in sprint races and it is unknown if he could have had any classic potential. However, his grandsire, Real Quiet, was an outstanding Classic Champion Thoroughbred who won the 1998 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1) and lost by a nose to Victory Gallop in the Belmont Stakes (G1).
Real Quiet is a perfect example of the Ancestral Herd influence of his grandsire Fappiano who was one of the most influential sons of Mr. Prospector at stud. In Horse Profiling, Kerry and I wrote that Real Quiet had conformation flaws but he possessed a high herd dynamic and Emotional Conformation Profile which was the key puzzle piece necessary for his success as a Classic Champion Thoroughbred.
Since 1990, the Mr. Prospector line has produced 11 Kentucky Derby winners and four of those winners are descendants of the Fappiano Ancestral Herd: Mine That Bird (2009), Real Quiet (1998), Grindstone (1996) and Unbridled (1990).
Other descendants of Mr. Prospector that won the Kentucky Derby include: I’ll Have Another (2012), Street Sense (2007), Smarty Jones (2004), Funny Cide (2003), War Emblem (2002), Fusaichi Pegasus (2000) and Thunder Gulch (1995).
Both Mylute and his grandsire Real Quiet are bred on the Mr. Prospector, Man o’ War nick and that is the same breeding nick that produced the Classic Champion Thoroughbred Smarty Jones.
In the distaff pedigree, the second dam of both Mylute and Real Quiet are descendants of the Ancestral Herd of Raise A Native and the tail-female line of Mylute descends from Reine-de-Course mare Golden Apple (Family 23-b) which is the same family that produced the Classic Champion Thoroughbred I’ll Have Another.
Altogether, Family 23-b has produced nine Classic Champion Thoroughbreds: I’ll Have Another (2012), Mine That Bird (2009), Lil E. Tee (1992), Winning Colors (1988), Affirmed (1978), Tim Tam (1958), Zev (1923), Byrn Mawr (1904) and Kingman (1891).
The form of Mylute, with a 2-3-2 record in nine starts, reminds me a lot of his grandsire Real Quiet who compiled a 2-2-5 record in 12 starts going into the 1998 Kentucky Derby. En route to the Derby, Real Quiet posted a 103 Brisnet Speed Figure – his best at that time – finishing second to Artax in the San Felipe Stakes (G2). In his next race, Real Quiet finished second in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) to stablemate Indian Charlie and recorded a 107 speed figure – four points higher than his previous best.
Fast forward to the 2013 Louisiana Derby (G2), both Mylute and Revolutionary posted a top speed figure of 105 and the pace figures of E1-97, E2-109 and LP-96 are above par for the pace figures for this year’s Kentucky Derby (E1-94, E2-103, LP-93). If Mylute follows the same pattern of his grandsire Real Quiet, his next race will be a career-best and could be in the range of 109 or 110 which makes him very competitive in the Derby.
The Fappiano Ancestral Herd is a powerful influence in the American classics and that makes Mylute very attractive in the Derby. With nine career starts, Mylute is one of the more seasoned colts in this Derby and he picks up the services of the outstanding jockey Rosie Napravnik who guided him to a 10¾-length win in the last race of his 2-year-old season.
Mylute has room to improve in his third start of the season. He’s been working out good at Churchill Downs and a recent bullet work on April 14 could have him ready to run a career-best race at a very good price.
Orb, the 7-2 morning-line favorite, has consistently shown the will to win in all of his races as a 3-year-old, and despite the fact that his profile is not in the top five, he is a descendant of the Ancestral Herd of both Bold Ruler and Fappiano and those Ancestral Herds have produced numerous Classic Champion Thoroughbreds.
In the decade of the 1970’s, the Ancestral Herd of Bold Ruler produced seven Kentucky Derby winners: Orb’s grandsire, Seattle Slew (1977), Bold Forbes (1976), Foolish Pleasure (1975), Cannonade (1974), Secretariat (1973), Dust Commander (1970) and Spectacular Bid (1979).
The 1984 Kentucky Derby winner, Swale, was the last Kentucky Derby winner from that line and that is the one knock against Orb going into the Derby. A.P. Indy, the sire of Orb, was scratched on Derby day in 1992 but he later went on to win the Belmont Stakes.
To date, the best competitors from the A.P. Indy Ancestral Herd to finish in the top four of the Kentucky Derby include: Nehro (2011), Ice Box (2010) and Aptitude (2000) who finished in second place, Steppenwolfer (2006) finished third, Don’t Get Mad (2005), Atswhatimtalknbout (2003) and Pulpit (1997) finished in fourth place. However, A.P. Indy did sire the 2007 Belmont Stakes winner Rags to Riches and the 2006 Preakness Stakes winner Bernardini.
Unbridled, the damsire of Orb, won the 1990 Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic and he’s a descendant of the Fappiano Ancestral Herd which is a powerful influence in the pedigree (see my write up of Mylute).
Classic Champion Thoroughbred descendants of the Unbridled Ancestral Herd include: Grindstone (1996 Kentucky Derby), Red Bullet (2000 Preakness), Empire Maker, (2003 Belmont), Birdstone (2004 Belmont), Mine That Bird (2009 Kentucky Derby) and Summer Bird (2009 Belmont).
As a 2-year-old, Orb finished third in his maiden debut and continued to struggle, finishing out of the money in his next two starts – defeated by a combined 28 lengths. Finally, last November Orb posted a 2-length maiden-win running a mile at Aqueduct in a slow time of 1:38.73.
As a 3-year-old, Orb is undefeated in three starts including a half-length win in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) and a 2¾-length win in the Florida Derby (G1). The finish times in all three of his races this year have been slow and Orb will have to pick up his game if he is going to win the Derby.
Despite the slow times, however, Orbs gritty will to win and his breeding make him competitive in Kentucky Derby 139.
Lines of Battle (30-1) is a descendant of the Danzig line of the Northern Dancer Ancestral Herd and he’s one of the best-bred British Isle invaders we’ve seen cross the pond in search of Derby Glory. His sire, War Front, was raced almost exclusively in sprints, compiling a 4-5-1 record in 13 starts. However, War Front did win the 8½-furlong Discovery Handicap (G3) by eight lengths and I believe that if given the chance, he could have been competitive in route races.
Worldwide, numerous Classic Champion Thoroughbreds have been produced by the Danzig Ancestral Herd and Big Brown, winner of the 2008 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, is a descendant of that line. Danzig sired the 1992 Preakness Stakes winner Pine Bluff, the 1991 Canadian Triple Crown winner Dance Smartly, and the 1986 Belmont Stakes winner Danzig Connection. Danzig also is the broodmare sire of Fusaichi Pegasus, winner of the 2000 Kentucky Derby, and the Canadian Classic Champion Thoroughbred, Dancethruthedawn.
Thirteen Danzig line horses have competed in the Kentucky Derby since 1990, and four of them – Big Brown (2008), Hard Spun (2007), Imperalism (2004), and Sea Hero (1993) – finished in the top four for a 31% on the board finish.
Lines of Battle’s damsire, Arch, was a tough competitor and multiple graded-stakes winner who never raced less than 7-furlongs, compiling a 5-1-0 record in seven career starts. In August of 1998, Arch won a 9-furlong allowance race by nine lengths and a month later he won the 10-furlong Super Derby (G1) at Louisiana Downs by three lengths.
As a sire, Arch sired the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Blame and the 2006 Canadian Horse of the Year, Arravale. He’s also the damsire of I’ll Have Another, winner of the 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, and the 2010 Eclipse Champion Two-Year-Old Colt Uncle Mo.
Black Speck, the dam of Lines of Battle, raced in France and was not a stakes winner. However, she compiled a 1-1-2 record in six starts. Andover Way, the second dam of Lines of Battle, was a multiple graded-stakes winner and she is the dam of Dynaformer.
In the tail-female line War Front and Black Speck, Lines of Battle has a double dose of Family 4-r (Cub Mare) and that is as powerful family influence to have in the pedigree. Family 4-r produced the Kentucky Derby winners Monarchos (2001), Black Gold (1924), Donau (1910), Manuel (1899) and Halma (1895).
The tail-female line of Black Speck traces back to the fourth dam Golden Trail, a Reine-de-Course mare and Matriarch of the Turf, and she is the ancestral dam of multiple graded-stakes winners Brian’s Time, Sunshine Forever and Memories of Silver. Golden Trail is also the fifth dam Monarchos and the third dam of Dynaformer. The tail-female line of War Front traces back to Sunny Vale in the seventh generation and she was the dam of Golden Trail.
With victories in the European and Asian continents, Lines of Battle enters the Kentucky Derby battle tested with a 3-1-0 record in six starts. Last May, he broke his maiden, winning by a head, in the Big Bad Bob Stakes at Curragh racetrack in Ireland. Here’s the chart call:
Tracked leaders, 3rd halfway, headway to dispute 2f out and led narrowly 1f out, pushed out and kept on best inside final furlong, snugly (op 11/2)
In July, Lines of Battle finished second, narrowly losing by a neck, in the Tyros Stakes (G3) at Leopardstown:
Raced in 3rd, upsides winner and every chance final furlong, kept on well but no extra close home
Last October, after a two-month break, Lines of Battle won the Star Appeal Stakes by 2½-lengths:
Raced in 3rd, pressed leader inside final 2f, led approaching final furlong and pushed clear, comfortably (op 13-8)
In his debut as a 3-year-old, Lines of Battle traveled to Dubai where he earned his best victory yet at Meydan racecourse, winning the UAE Derby by 1½-lengths:
Tracked leaders, led 2f out, ran on well, comfortably (op 8-1)
In all of his victories, the one common denominator of Lines of Battle is that he likes to run just off the pace, tracking the leaders. His draw of post 11 in the Derby is almost perfect. It should allow Lines of Battle to get away from the gate with a clean break and puts him in a good stalking position to track the early leaders.
The connections of Joseph Allen, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor & Derrick Smith are serious about the prospects of Lines of Battle in the Derby. Veteran jockey Ryan Moore will have the mount and with wins in the Epsom Oaks (2010), Epsom Derby (2010), Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (2010) and the 1,000 Guineas, he’s well acquainted with what it takes to be victorious in classic competition.
Lines of Battle has room to improve in just the second start of his 3-year-old racing season and another big move forward will make him very tough in Kentucky Derby 139.
When past performances indicate that a young colt on the Derby Trail is not at the top of his class, sometimes his pedigree can be an indicator that he may have the potential to step up and run a good race. That’s why I’ll be using Will Take Charge (20-1) in some of my wagers on Saturday.
Sure, he’s a crazy long shot who hasn’t raced since March and he’s never ran 9-furlongs. But, Will Take Charge has compiled a 3-1-0 record in seven starts including wins in the Smarty Jones Stakes and the Rebel Stakes (G2). And, most important, he’s a descendant of the Fappiano Ancestral Herd on the top and bottom of his pedigree.
His grandsire is the previously mentioned Classic Champion Thoroughbred, Unbridled, and his sire, Unbridled’s Song, finished fifth in the 1996 Kentucky Derby – just 3½-lengths shy of victory. Unbridled’s Song has had six runners in the Kentucky Derby and his best finisher to date was the ill-fated Eight Belles who broke down after finishing second to Big Brown in the 2008 Kentucky Derby. Will Take Charge is nowhere near as accomplished as Eight Belles was but the two have similar Ancestral Herd breeding.
Take Charge Lady, the dam of Will Take Charge, was a multiple graded-stakes racehorse who compiled an 11-7-0 record in 22 starts. Her most notable victories were in the 8½-furlong Walmac International Alcibiades Stakes (G2), Silverbulletday Stakes (G3), Fair Grounds Oaks Stakes (G2), Ashland Stakes (G1), Dogwood Stakes (G3), the 9-furlong Arlington Matron Handicap (G3) and she was the two-time winner of the 9-furlong Overbrook Spinster Stakes (G1).
D. Wayne Lukas, the trainer of Will Take Charge, knows what it takes to be competitive in the Kentucky Derby and he’s the master at flying under the radar. When he was big winner in the 1990’s, Lukas had several horses that had nice payoffs for a $2 bet: Thunder Gulch ($51.00), Grindstone ($13.80) and Charismatic ($64.60).
Honorable mention goes to Verrazano (4-1) who’s a talented, undefeated colt trained by Todd Pletcher. In some ways, Verrazano reminds me of other talented, high-profile colts that Pletcher has trained in the past that failed to reproduce that talent in the Kentucky Derby.
Verrazano comes into the Derby undefeated in four starts. In his first two races, he crushed his opponents by a combined 24 lengths, but in his last two races, he beat Java’s War by three lengths in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) and he barely defeated Normandy Invasion by three-quarters of a length in the Wood Memorial Stakes (G1).
With his front-running style, Verrazano will probably need to be forwardly placed early if he’s going to be competitive in the Derby. I think that Verrazano could be competitive, but I don’t like him for the win.
Last December, I profiled Revolutionary in my 2013 Kentucky Derby Outlook, as a young colt that could, perhaps, have classic potential. So far, Revolutionary has lived up to my expectations and he’s my top pick to win Kentucky Derby 139. However, Mylute, Orb and Lines of Battle have outstanding pedigrees and a win by one of them would not be a surprise. Don’t forget Will Take Charge if he looks good in the paddock and post parade.
Kentucky Derby 139 Presented by Yum Brands
Post Position, Horse, Odds, Jockey, Trainer
1. Black Onyx, 50-1, Joe Bravo, Kelly Breen
2. Oxbow, 30-1, Gary Stevens, D. Wayne Lukas
3. Revolutionary, 10-1, Calvin Borel, Todd Pletcher
4. Golden Soul, 50-1, Robby Albarado, Dallas Stewart
5. Normandy Invasion, 12-1, Javier Castellano, Chad Brown
6. Mylute, 15-1, Rosie Napravnik, Tom Amoss
7. Giant Finish, 50-1, Jose Espinoza, Tony Dutrow
8. Goldencents, 5-1, Kevin Krigger, Doug O’Neill
9. Overanalyze, 15-1, Rafael Bejarano, Todd Pletcher
10. Palace Malice, 20-1, Mike Smith, Todd Pletcher
11. Lines of Battle, 30-1, Ryan Moore, Aiden O’Brien
12. Itsmyluckyday, 15-1, Elvis Trujillo, Eddie Pleasa, Jr.
13. Falling Sky, 50-1, Luis Saez, John Terranova, Jr.
14. Verrazano, 4-1, John Velazquez, Todd Pletcher
15. Charming Kitten, 20-1, Edgar Prado, Todd Pletcher
16. Orb, 7-2, Joel Rosario, Claude McGaughey
17. Will Take Charge, 20-1, Jon Court, D. Wayne Lukas
18. Frac Daddy, 50-1 Victor LeBron, Ken McPeek
19. Java’s War, 15-1, Julien Leparoux, Ken McPeek
20. Vyjack, 15-1, Garrett Gomez, Rudy Rodriquez
Fear The Kitten, 50-1, Alan Garcia, Mike Maker