Friday, March 11, 2011

Tampa Bay Derby Racing Roundup

Brethren is a young colt I’ve been following since last summer. I wrote about him in my 2011 Kentucky Derby Outlook and my blog about the Importance of Dam Lines.

With the most likely scratch Saturday of favored Uncle Mo who is also entered to run in the Timely Writer Stakes at Gulfstream Park, Brethren will enter the starting gate as the morning line even money favorite in the 31st running of the $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby (G2) at Tampa Bay Downs.

Undefeated in three starts, Brethren was impressive in his 3-year-old debut winning the Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) by four lengths and he looms as the horse to beat in the Tampa Bay Derby.

However, if Striding Ahead (10-1) lives up to his breeding, he could be very competitive.

Hall of Fame Trainer Bill Mott sends Striding Ahead to the starting gate off of an impressive 6 ¾ - length (see video) maiden win last month at Tampa Bay Downs. In just his second start, Striding Ahead appeared to be very professional and focused, covering the 8 ½ - furlongs on a wet, fast track in a time of 1:45.58 compared to Brethren’s time of 1:45.07 in the Davis stakes.

I really like the pedigree of Striding Ahead which qualifies as WOW and reads like a who’s who of Classic Champion Thoroughbreds, important sires and mares. Striding Ahead reminds me of Summer Bird, one of my original WOW horses, in that he, too, is lightly raced and is not nominated to the Triple Crown.

However, a win in the Tampa Bay Derby or a good performance might change that.

One never knows if these young colts will live up to their breeding and I’m anxious to see if Striding Ahead continues to move forward.

Striding Ahead’s sire is Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Empire Maker and Kentucky Derby winner (G1) Unbridled is his grandsire. Important sire, Nureyev, is Striding Ahead’s damsire and Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew is the sire of his second dam.

Helstra, the dam of Striding Ahead, is inbred to Matriarch Rough Shod through two full-sisters and Reines-de-Course mares Thong and Moccasin. Half (16) of the 32 bloodlines in Striding Ahead’s five-generation pedigree are descended from Matriarchs written about by Edward L. Bowen in his books Matriarchs, Great Mares of the 20th Century and Matriarchs Volume II: More Great Mares of Modern Times.

The huge number of Matriarchs in the pedigree of Striding Ahead is an important influence that is not often found in the pedigrees of most horses. If Striding Ahead is nominated to the Triple Crown, I’ll elaborate more, later, about his pedigree.

Since moving to the barn of trainer Chad Brown, Free Entry (7-2) appears to be a horse that is moving forward. In January, Free Entry broke his maiden in his 3-year-old debut and comes into the Derby with two back-to-back wins.

Free Entry earned a 96 Brisnet Speed Figures for both of those races and if he continues to move forward he should be competitive.

Too Experience (8-1) comes into the Derby with an impressive 5-1-0 record in seven starts. His worst effort was a seventh-place finish in the Foolish Pleasure Stakes last September at Calder Race Course. In his last race, Too Experience finished second to Brethren in the Sam Davis.

A bullet work out on February 26 and a sharp work since then should have Too Experience ready to run a good race.


  1. I'm enjoying your blog and agree with today's post. I've always liked Brethren, too, and of course Uncle Mo is notable as much for his pedigree and performance as for his colorful owner ;o)

    I've expanded my list of "horses to watch" on the Derby Trail to include several you've mentioned above. Keep up the good work!

  2. Hi Calvin -

    Thank you for "sharing" Striding Ahead with me! (Now I know who a certain commenter at SH's blog was, too.) I have a habit of checking past races and pedigree of "under the radar" horses I hadn't heard about, so did the usual when SA was mentioned. Impressive as the 2/05 Maiden was (to my eyes), the pedigree is even more extraordinary. I must be "getting it" if both you and L agree!
    thanks again!

  3. TBDancer,

    I'm glad you like the blog and thanks for the compliment.

    I'm looking for a good run from Brethren but if Striding Ahead wins I'll be happy with that too.


    That was the first time I've commented on Steve Haskin's blog.

    Now that you've been bitten by the pedigree bug I'll be looking for some of your analysis at the DRF Formblog.

  4. Calvin, I am rooting and betting against both of the Pletcher colts today, Even though they may be best. The tip-toe to the Derby approach is dangerous and not very sporting. Dialed In and To Honor And Serve both lost using this tactic and even though the connections are playing it down, it is a major setback. Lightly raced young horses loosing plays into the emotional conformation discussion. Particularly this close to the Derby. The pundit hype on Uncle Mo is over the top and a poor race would wad up their shorts, big time. Bob Bright

  5. Bob Bright,

    I agree. With the lightly-raced schedule of most of these young colts it is getting more difficult each year to measure the depth of their talent.

    I was very disappointed with the performance of To Honor And Serve in the Fountain of Youth and, yes, it was a major setback.

  6. Mr. Bob Bright and Calvin,

    I can certainly agree with your comments.
    That's the problem with the road to the Derby, is so many of the horses are treated with Kid Gloves.
    Unlike a horse like "Comma To The Top" you threw a clunker in last race but has the seasoning that you would like from a trainer on the Derby Trail.
    There are only 56 days left in the run up the Derby and no margin for error for any of them.

    Larry Knepper

  7. Larry, Interesting point you made. "Comma To The Top" needs to stop racing until the Derby no matter how he runs today. "Gourmet Dinner" is in the same situation.
    The sneak up on the Derby only works if the colts don't loose. Just look at history and our most recent triple crown winners.
    Last year Super Saver went in lightly raced but the Derby cooked him.
    "Gourmet Dinner" more so then "Comma at the Top" could do some damage in the triple crown if they hsven't already done too much.
    I suspect "Gourmet Dinner" will run in the Florida Derby which might be stretching it. Bob Bright