Thursday, December 23, 2010

2011 Kentucky Derby Outlook

Now that graded stakes racing for 2-year-old thoroughbreds is over, this is the time of year when I like to review their pedigrees and past performances to see if I can spot any that may have the potential to become a factor on the Triple Crown trail.

It’s a daunting task but I try to review as many as possible and narrow my list down to three or four I believe may have exceptional talent. Three horses I especially liked at this time last year were Eskendereya, Winslow Homer and Super Saver.

Eskendereya and Winslow Homer proved to be exceptional but, unfortunately, were taken off the trail due to injury. Super Saver was descent but did not fully live up to my expectations until turning things around by winning the Kentucky Derby (G1). Super Saver and Ice Box, along with Lookin At Lucky and Mission Impazible, were my Derby picks.

Uncle Mo, undefeated in three starts, most likely will top everyone’s top ten. He’s already proven to be exceptional with a combined 23 ¼ - length margin of victory in previous starts and two grade one wins in the Champagne Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He probably will be selected as the juvenile Eclipse winner and the early 2011 Derby favorite.

I have no doubt that Uncle Mo will probably be a fierce competitor up to 9-furlongs. However, it remains to be seen how competitive he will be racing beyond that distance.

Indian Charlie, Uncle Mo’s sire, was a fierce competitor and winner of the 1998 Santa Anita Derby but could only manage a third-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. Conveyance, a brilliant Indian Charlie colt on last year’s trail, was competitive up to 8 ½ to 9-furlongs.

To his advantage, Uncle Mo gets some stamina from In Excess, his grandsire, who was a good middle-distance runner that was able to stretch out and set a new track record in the 10-furlong Suburban Handicap. Arch, his damsire, won the 10-furlong Super Derby and sired Blame – recent winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic and leading candidate, along with Zenyatta, for Horse of The Year honors. (Coincidentally, Zenyatta’s damsire line is the same as Blame’s sire line.) Dixieland Band, the sire of Uncle Mo’s second dam Dixie Slippers, is the damsire of Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense.

So, I will be watching, with great interest, to see how well Uncle Mo performs at 9-furlongs.

Overall, I believe that this year’s group of juveniles is better than last year’s group. I’m still reviewing them, but so far there are five that I am especially interested in: To Honor And Serve (Bernardini-Pilfer by Deputy Minister), Brethren (Distorted Humor-Supercharger by A.P. Indy), Cal Nation (Distorted Humor-She’s A Winner by A.P. Indy), Premier Pegasus (Fusaichi Pegasus-Squall Linda by Summer Squall) and Animal Kingdom (Leroidesanimaux-Dalicia by Acatenango).

To Honor And Serve has been on my watch list for quite some time and I was not surprised to see him win the Nashua (G2) and Remsen Stakes (G2).

His sire, Bernardini, was an outstanding racehorse and winner of the 2006 Preakness Stakes (G1). At stud, I believe that Bernardini will have a good career. So far, he’s off to a good start and he’s been battling all year with Congrats and Bluegrass Cat for leading Freshman Sire honors. Currently, Bernardini is ranked second.

To Honor and Serve’s grandsire is the outstanding sire and 1992 Belmont Stakes (G1) winner A.P. Indy who also sired Rags To Riches – winner of the 2007 Belmont. To Honor And Serve’s great-grandsire is Triple Crown winner and outstanding sire Seattle Slew. In addition to A.P. Indy, Seattle Slew sired the 1984 Kentucky Derby and Belmont winner Swale.

To Honor and Serve’s damsire is the Canadian Hall of Fame thoroughbred Deputy Minister – Canadian and U.S. Champion 2-Year-Old Colt (1981) and Canadian Horse of the Year (1981).

Deputy Minister was the leading North American sire in 1997, 1998 and leading broodmare sire in 2007. He sired the Classic Champion Thoroughbreds Awesome Again (Queen’s Plate Stakes 1997) and Touch Gold (Belmont Stakes 1997). Deputy Minister is the damsire of Classic Champion Thoroughbreds Sarava (Belmont Stakes 2002), Jazil (Belmont Stakes 2006), Curlin (Preakness Stakes 2007) and Rags To Riches (Belmont Stakes 2007).

Deputy Minister is also the grandsire of the outstanding thoroughbreds Silverbulletday and Ghostzapper.

Miswaki, the sire of To Honor and Serve’s second dam Misty Hour, sired the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Urban Sea. English Triple Crown winner and outstanding sire Nijinsky is the sire of To Honor and Serve’s third dam Our Tina Marie.

So, as you can see, To Honor and Serve has some nice breeding.

Brethren is undefeated in two starts but has yet to run in a stakes race. If he lives up to his breeding, I believe he has the potential to be a factor on the Triple Crown trail.

Brethren’s sire is Distorted Humor, sire of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Funny Cide and Belmont Stakes winner Drosselmeyer.

Brethren’s dam line is descended from the legendary La Troienne. Roger Lyons at Pedigree Matters has been keeping records of the top 40 dam lines that have produced the most stakes winners and since 1995 the La Troienne line tops the list at number one.

Brethren’s dam, Supercharger, is the dam of Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver and his second dam, Get Lucky, is also the second dam of Bluegrass Cat.

Cal Nation is unraced and has some catching up to do. However, he has been working out regularly since November 13 and if he lives up to his breeding, I believe he can be a factor too. In addition to having the same sire as Brethren, Cal Nation’s dam, She’s A Winner, is the dam of Bluegrass Cat and a full-sister to Supercharger – the dam of Brethren and Super Saver.

Undefeated in three starts, Premier Pegasus is a descendant of Mr. Prospector and he recently won the 7-furlong Hollywood Prevue Stakes (G3). He has a nice pedigree and with Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus as his sire and Preakness winner Summer Squall as the damsire, Premier Pegasus should continue to improve in his 3-year-old season.

I’m very interested Animal Kingdom and tempted to put him at the top of my list. However, it is a bit too early. Animal Kingdom has yet to run in a stakes race but both of his previous two starts have been route races.

In his 8 ½ - furlong maiden debut, Animal Kingdom finished second to Willcox Inn who went on to finish third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. Animal Kingdom broke his maiden in his second start by an easy 3 ¼ - lengths. Animal Kingdom covered the 9-furlongs in 1:49.01 and should be able to trim one or, maybe, two seconds off that time as a 3-year-old and that would make him extremely competitive.

Animal Kingdom’s pedigree is as close to WOW as you can get. His sire, Leroidesanimaux, was bred in Brazil but was a multiple graded-stakes champion in North America at the age of four and five and the 2005 Champion Male Turf Horse. Candy Stripes, his grandsire, is the sire of Invasor - the Uruguayan Triple Crown Champion, North American Horse of the Year and Champion Older Male. Leroidesanimaux’ second dam, Kerali, is the dam of super broodmare Hasili - dam of champions Intercontental, Banks Hill, Dansili, Champs Elysees, Cacique and Heat Haze.

Animal Kingdom’s damsire is the legendary Classic Champion Thoroughbred and German Derby winner Acatenango – three-time Horse of The Year in Germany and champion sire in 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999 and 2001. All of the stallions on the damsire line going back six generations are Classic Champion Thoroughbreds and German Derby winners.

Dancing Brave, the sire of Animal Kingdom’s second dam Dynamis, is a Classic Champion Thoroughbred and the 1986 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner.

If Animal Kingdom continues to improve and move forward as a 3-year-old, he will be tough on the Triple Crown trail.

Only time will tell.

Other horses I’m watching to round out a top ten include:

Astrology (A.P. Indy-Quiet Eclipse by Quiet American) – winner of the Iroquois Stakes (G3), runner-up in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) and third-place finisher in the Garden State Stakes;

Shadow Warrior (A.P. Indy-Victory Ride by Seeking The Gold);

Sway Away (Afleet Alex-Seattle Shimmer by Seattle Slew) – runner-up in the Best Pal Stakes (G2);

Cozy Kitten (Kitten’s Joy-Caterette by Cozzene).



  1. Hi Calvin
    I like your early selections for the Derby. Thank you. Could you give me a quick thought on Dominus (Smart Strike out of Cuando) I believe he will like distances. He was 2nd in his maiden, and I am waiting to see him back on a work tab. May be a late bloomer for the Derby Trail...
    Have a Happy New Year !

    SR Vegas

  2. SR Vegas,

    Just got home today from the Christmas Holiday and getting caught up.

    I like that his sire is Smart Strike. His damsire line is descended from Penelope (Family 1-0). I like that. I'll take a closer look at his pedigree and get back with you if there is anything else that I like.

    Thanks for following the blog.

  3. Thanks Calvin
    Hope you had a Merry Christmas.Talk to you soon!
    SR Vegas

  4. Calvin, now that we are less than two weeks away, what do you think of Animal Kingdom's chances?


  5. Wubert,

    I like his chances a lot. I'll have more about that the week of the Derby. Thanks for following the blog.

  6. Animal Kingdom apparently just had a good work on dirt today. Yet another horse to consider in a week!

    I enjoy reading your blog! Thank you for keeping it fresh!


  7. Wubert,

    Thanks for the compliment. I'm glad you like the blog and thanks for contributing to the commentary.

    I appreciate hearing from my blog readers.