Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Ancestral Herd Influence, Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile™ Could Determine Outcome of Kentucky Derby 140; It's "All Or Nothing" For Derby Favorite California Chrome

©2014 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.

          For the past eight months, we’ve travelled down the “Road To The Kentucky Derby” which, now, finally brings us to Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky where this Saturday a field of 20 young Thoroughbreds will enter the starting gate in Kentucky Derby 140.

However, my road to the Derby has been a long one spanning nearly 20 years of research and study. Early on in my journey down the Derby Trail I quickly learned that, in addition to the influence of the sire and dam on offspring, the influence of sire lines or what I now refer to as the Ancestral Herd is of primary importance in determining classic potential in young Thoroughbreds.

Followers of my blog also know that my study of the late Federico Tesio, a world-renowned owner, breeder and trainer of Thoroughbred racehorses, and Franco Varola, a contemporary of Tesio and an equally-renowned writer, author and developer of the Dosage theory, has had a tremendous impact on how I determine if a young horse has star potential.

Varola, in his landmark book, Typology of the Racehorse (published in 1974 by J.A. Allen & Company Limited), noted the importance of sire lines in the shaping of offspring: “the prepotency of a few great continuators of the breed is not a matter of individuals alone but of entire sire lines. I am aware that it is not technically correct to speak of prepotency of bloodlines, but the phenomenon is worth noting.”

Indeed, Varola was genius and his observation, prophetic. Since publication of his book, descendants of the Northern Dancer, Mr. Prospector and Sunday Silence Ancestral Herds have dominated the world of Thoroughbred horseracing and continue to dominate the sport to this very day.

Study of Tesio and Varola confirmed my own research. In addition to those studies, research and study of Old Testament scripture from the Holy Bible was a big factor that shaped my awareness and concept of the Ancestral Herd.

Like an intricate puzzle, the pedigree contains many secrets of what champions are made of and everything one needs to know about the horse, from the physical conformational characteristics to the emotional and behavioral traits, can be found in the pedigree if one knows the families, Ancestral Herd that formed the foal.

For some time now, I’ve been working on a way to classify and define my studies. The result is what I call the Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile™ which is comprised of the Tesio Index™ and Ancestral Herd Index™.

The Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile™ is a tool I use to measure classic potential in young Thoroughbreds. The higher the profile score, the more potential of that horse to become a Classic Champion Thoroughbred.

The profile does not take into account other factors that could determine the outcome of a race 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 first introduced the Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile™ in its present format in last year’s Derby blog, and, overall, I was pleased with its debut. Since then, I’ve been working on refining it and the numbers for this year’s Derby are producing some interesting results.

As you can see, many of the profiles of the horses in Kentucky Derby 140 are very close. However, despite the close profiles, there are four distinct groups of horses in this race with a top four consisting of We Miss Artie, Ride On Curlin, Hoppertunity and Commanding Curve.

From Commanding Curve, ranked fourth, to fifth-ranked Wicked Strong, there is a 6.26 point spread.

From Medal Count, ranked sixth, to seventh-ranked Tapiture, there is 7.49 point spread.

From seventh-ranked Tapiture to Samraat, who is ranked eighteenth, there is only a 15.63 point spread between those 12 horses, indicating there is not much that separates them from each other – and that was clearly evident on the racetrack. Intense Holiday and Vicar’s In Trouble battled with each other all season long at the Fair Grounds and they have the same profile score of 302.51. There’s only a 3.75 point spread between General A Rod, ranked tenth, and sixteenth-ranked Wildcat Red who fought for graded stakes honors at Gulfstream Park. Also, there’s only a 3.75 point spread between seventeenth-ranked Uncle Sigh and Samraat who battled it out at Aqueduct.

By far, the top four horses of this group have the best breeding and I feel very good about their chances in the Derby. Let’s take a look at them and Derby favorite, California Chrome.

CALIFORNIA CHROME (5-2) – A Chestnut colt by Lucky Pulpit out of Love the Chase by Not For Love was foaled February 18, 2011. He comes into the Kentucky Derby (G1) for the connections of Steven Coburn and Martin Perry with a 6-1-0 record in 10 starts. In his last race, California Chrome looked impressive winning the Santa Anita Derby (G3) by 5¼-lengths and a repeat of that performance could make him tough in the Derby. Here’s the chart call and video:

CALIFORNIA CHROME a bit slow into stride and slightly crowded early, pulled between horses to duel for the lead, continued outside a rival on the second turn, took command nearing the quarter pole, kicked clear, widened while being ridden along in midstretch and proved best under a long hold late.

Of all the horses entered in the Derby, California Chrome is one of the most interesting. Obviously, he’s very talented. He’s won his last four races by a combined win margin of 24¼-lengths. He has good speed and finishes his races with a lot of energy. His finish time of 1:47.52 in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) is racehorse time and it makes him very competitive in the Derby.

Indeed, the way California Chrome won his last four races gives the impression that he has no peers on the racetrack and he’s most likely the winner of Kentucky Derby 140. However, when you look at the past performances of California Chrome it appears that he’s “All or Nothing” when he runs. When he wins, he wins big. When he loses, he completely misses the board.

To investigate the source of this curious racing form, I previewed all the videos of California Chrome’s races and it appears that the biggest obstacle to him winning the Derby could be his own mind. In the three he lost, it is evident that behavioral issues prevented him from winning those races. In all those defeats, California Chrome was in between horses or behind in traffic and he did not know what to do: Should I go right, left or up the middle?

Here’s a look at chart call and video of California Chrome’s 7¼-length loss in the Willard L. Proctor Memorial Stakes last June at Betfair Hollywood Park:

CALIFORNIA CHROME went up between horses to duel for the lead, battled three deep between foes on the turn and into the stretch and weakened in the final furlong.

The chart notes that California Chrome, running between horses, weakened at the end of the race but, more likely, he didn’t have the mental aptitude to press through to victory. After that loss, trainer Art Sherman put blinkers on California Chrome but that did not help him overcome the mental barrier he faced when stuck behind horses in the Del Mar Futurity (G1) last September. Here’s the video and chart call:

CALIFORNIA CHROME chased between horses on the backstretch and turn, rallied between foes in deep stretch and was in a bit tight off heels late.

California Chrome had a hole, granted a small hole, in the final strides of the Del Mar Futurity but he could not press through the wall of horses to win the race.

Last December, in the Golden State Juvenile Stakes at Santa Anita Park, California Chrome raced free, and clear, of other horses along the rail in the stretch drive but he did not have that “heart” of a champion to press on to victory. Here’s the chart call and video:

CALIFORNIA CHROME hopped at the start and was off slowly, chased inside a rival on the backstretch, came around a tiring foe entering the stretch and lacked the needed rally on the rally through the final furlong.

A good mind, the ability of a horse to focus during the heat of a race is so important. And it appears that California Chrome has focus issues when stuck in the middle of a herd of horses.

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 note that good horse behavior is vitally important and it’s the final piece of the breeding puzzle necessary to produce equine champions.

Federico Tesio also knew about the importance of a horse possessing a good mind. Behavior is what Tesio looked for in the horses he bred or inspected at auction, and, during his lifetime, Tesio bred an incredible 21 Italiano Derby winners.

Franco Varola’s Dosage system (not the one commonly used today) consisted of five “aptitudinal” groups, and Varola was most interested in the behavioral traits and characteristics that each sire transmitted to his offspring.

In Typology of the Racehorse (JA Allen, 1974), Varola noted: “The differences between the five aptitudinal groups are of essence or character. It matters very little whether a racehorse is 16 hands or 16.2, or whether it is chestnut or brown; but it does matter a lot the way he behaves in actual racing, whether he is consistent or erratic, brilliant or slow, bellicose or resigned, in other words which pattern or mode of being is he expressing...It is of great utility to be able to distinguish between these various aptitudes, this being something that plays an effective part in mating.”

Yes, indeed, Signors Varola, Tesio.

The talented California Chrome doesn’t need the lead to win. But he has to be free and clear outside of horses, up near the front or a length off of the leaders.

If jockey Victor Espinoza can put California Chrome in that spot then he could, perhaps, be a threat to win the Kentucky Derby. If California Chrome is stuck in the middle of the herd, he could run close to his profile ranking or even worse.

WE MISS ARTIE (50-1) – A bay colt by Artie Schiller out of Athena’s Gift by Fusaichi Pegasus was foaled on March 30, 2011. He comes into the Derby with a 3-2-0 record in eight starts for owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey. We Miss Artie earned his spot in the Derby starting gate with a narrow nose victory in the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes (G3) at Turfway Park on March 22. Here’s the chart call and race replay:

WE MISS ARTIE settled in hand, ranged into striking position through the second turn five wide, dug in under left handed urging and was up in the final strides.

We Miss Artie’s win in the Spiral may not have been as flashy as California Chrome’s Santa Anita Derby win or Daza’s win in the Arkansas Derby. But I like what I saw in his stretch drive and he finished with good energy. The stretch out to 10-furlong will not be a problem for this young colt who could be getting good at the right time of year.

A $90,000 purchase at the Keeneland September 2012 Yearling Sale, We Miss Artie has the best pedigree in the entire Derby field. He’s bred on a nick of the Northern Dancer Ancestral Herd over the Ancestral Herd of Mr. Prospector.

Artie Schiller, the sire of We Miss Artie, was a multiple graded-stakes winner who compiled 10-5-3 record in 22 career starts with $2,088,853 in earnings. His best stakes wins include the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), Marker’s Mark Mile Stakes (G2), Jamaica Handicap (G2), National Museum Racing Hall Of Fame Handicap (G2), Bernard Baruch Handicap (G2), Hill Prince Stakes (G3) and Woodlawn Stakes.

To date, Artie Schiller’s best runners include We Miss Artie, Mr. Commons, Laser Hawk, My Conquestadory, Anne’s Beauty, Blingo and Hammers Terror to name a few.

El Prado, the grandsire of We Miss Artie, was a multiple graded-stakes winner who compiled a 4-1-0 record in nine starts. His most notable wins include the John J. Long Memorial Railway Stakes (G3), Juddmonte Ebf Beresford Stakes (G2) and the National Staks (G1). El Prado’s best offspring include Artie Schiller, Medaglia d’Oro, Kitten’s Joy, Nite Dreamer, Borrego, Fort Prado and Paddy O’Prado, to name a few.

Sadler’s Wells, the great grandsire of We Miss Artie, was a Classic Champion Thoroughbred and noted source of stamina. His most notable offspring include the Classic Champion Thoroughbreds Montjeu, Galileo and High Chaparral, to name a few.

Fusaichi Pegasus, the damsire of We Miss Artie, was a multiple graded-stakes winner and Classic Champion Thoroughbred who compiled a 6-2-0 record in 9 starts. As a three year old, Fusaichi Pegasus won the San Felipe Stakes (G2) and Wood Memorial Stakes (G1) en route to a first-place finish in the 2000 Kentucky Derby (G1) and a second-place finish in the Preakness Stakes (G1).

RIDE ON CURLIN (15-1) – A bay colt by Curlin out of Magical Ride by Storm Cat was foaled on February 16, 2011. As a yearling at auction, Ride On Curlin fetched a mere $25,000 from bidders at the Keeneland September 2012 Yearling Sale.

With a 2-2-4 record, Ride On Curlin has only finished out of the money once in nine starts and he comes into this race off of a second-place finish in the Arkansas Derby (G1). Here’s the chart call and race replay.

RIDE ON CURLIN bumped at the start, settled in hand off the inside, was three wide into the far turn, fanned six wide into the lane, finished willingly to gain the place while not a serious threat to the winner.

I like the way Ride On Curlin closed in that race and he has the breeding to easily handle the stretch out to 10-furlongs. Ride On Curlin is a sire-line descendant of the Mr. Prospector Ancestral Herd and he’s bred on a nick with the Northern Dancer Ancestral Herd which, since 1990, has been the most successful nick on the Triple Crown Trail producing 12 Classic Champion Thoroughbreds.

Curlin, the sire of Ride On Curlin, did not make his career debut until February of his 3-year-old racing season and was undefeated in three starts, including wins in the Rebel Stakes (G3) and Arkansas Derby (G2), en route to a third-place finish in the 2007 Kentucky Derby (G1).

Curlin went on to win the Preakness Stakes (G1) by a head and he lost the Belmont Stakes (G1) by a head. During his career, Curlin won numerous Eclipse awards, compiled an 11-2-2 record in 16 career starts and earned over $10.5 million dollars. At stud, Curlin sired the 2013 Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice.

Smart Strike, the grandsire of Ride On Curlin, has proven to be an outstanding sire of champions and classic champions. He sired the Classic Champion Thoroughbreds Curlin and Lookin at Lucky and he’s the damsire of the 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird.

In addition, Smart Strike is the sire of numerous Canadian Sovereign Award winners: Soaring Free, Portcullis, Added Edge, Eye of the Sphynx, Gold Strike; and Smart Strike is the sire of the American Eclipse Award winner English Channel.

Storm Cat, the damsire of Ride on Curlin, sired Tabasco Cat, winner of the 1994 Preakness and Belmont Stakes. Storm Cat also sired the outstanding European champion Giant’s Causeway, who 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.

A Kentucky Derby victory by Ride on Curlin would be sweet for owner Daniel Dougherty who turned down a $1 million offer for his purchase after his maiden-breaking 7¾-length romp in a sprint race at Ellis Park last July. He covered the 5½-furlongs a track record-setting time of 1:03.00.

Hall of Fame jockey, Calvin Borel, picks up the mount on Ride On Curlin. Borel has won three Kentucky Derbies (2007, 2009, 2010) and he’s ridden Ride On Curlin in five of his previous nine starts.

I look for the pair to be very competitive.

HOPPERTUNITY (6-1) – A bay colt by Any Given Saturday out of Refugee by Unaccounted For was foaled on May 7, 2011. He comes into the Derby with a 2-1-0 record in five starts for owners Karl Watson, Michael Pegram and Paul Weitman. Hoppertunity earned his spot in the Derby starting gate with a second-place finish in the Santa Anita Derby (G1). Here’s a look at the chart call and race replay.

HOPPERTUNITY chased a bit off the rail, waited some leaving the second turn, came out three deep into the stretch and was clearly second best.

Despite his second-place finish in that race, I thought Hoppertunity ran well and if he hadn’t been carried three-wide at the top of the stretch by Dublin Up, he would have been much closer at the finish.

While Hoppertunity does not possess fast speed like California Chrome, he does have good speed and his breeding indicates that the stretch out to 10-furlongs will not be a problem.

Hoppertunity is a sire-line descendant of the Mr. Prospector Ancestral Herd and he’s bred on a nick with the Ancestral Herd of Damascus.

His sire, Any Given Saturday, was a competitive middle-distance horse who finished third in the Wood Memorial Stakes en route to an eighth-place finish in the 2007 Kentucky Derby (G1). Later in the season, Any Given Saturday went on to win the Haskell Invitational (G1) and Brooklyn Handicap (G2), both at 9-furlongs.

Distorted Humor, the grandsire of Hoppertunity, is also the grandsire of I’ll Have Another who won the 2012 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1). Distorted Humor sired Funny Cide, winner of the 2003 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1) and he also sired Drosselmeyer, winner of the 2010 Belmont Stakes (G1). In addition, Distorted Humor sired other top runners such as Any Given Saturday, Flower Alley, Sharp Humor, Hystericalady, and Commentator, to name a few.

 Unaccounted For, the damsire of Hoppertunity, was a multiple graded stakes winner who was competitive from 9 to 10 furlongs. His most notable stakes wins at 9 furlongs was in the Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) and Whitney Handicap (G1). In 10-furlongs competition, Unaccounted For finished second in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) and third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).

At stud, Unaccounted For sired the champion runners in Turkey: Dervis Aga, Mystical Storm, Azaraks, Gulengul and Midas Touch. As a damsire, Unaccounted For mares produced the top runners Big Blue Kitten, Overanalyze, and Executiveprivilege.

The tail-female line of Hoppertunity descends from the Bowes’ Byerley Turk Mare (Family 3). Hydroplane (Family 3-l), the seventh dam of Hoppertunity, was the dam of Triple Crown winner Citation. Davona Dale, the third dam of Hoppertunity, was a multiple graded-stakes winner, 1979 Eclipse Champion Three Year Old Filly and 1985 inductee in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.

Regular jockey Mike Smith retains the mount on Hoppertunity and I look for them to be competitive in this race.

COMMANDING CURVE (50-1) – A bay ridgling by Master Command out of Mother by Lion Hearted was foaled on March 23, 2011. He comes into the Derby with a 1-1-2 record in six starts for owner West Point Thoroughbreds. Master Command earned his spot in the Derby starting gate with a third-place finish in the Louisiana Derby (G2). Here’s the chart call and race replay.

COMMANDING CURVE was bumped at the start and forced in, saved ground on the first turn, settled at the back, went three to four wide on the far turn, advanced at the five-sixteenths, came under the whip in upper stretch and safely secured the show.

In his debut as a three year old, Commanding Curve made his first stakes start in February, finishing off the board in the Risen Star Stakes (G2) at the Fair Grounds. He followed that performance with an impressive third-place finish in the Louisiana Derby (G2). Running dead last, Commanding Curve made a powerful move to close on the leaders and if he had not encountered trouble at the top of the stretch he probably would have finished second or first.

Commanding Curve was my long shot pick in both of those races. His racing form has improved with each start this year and he’s getting good at just the right time of year. Commanding Curve has the pedigree to easily handle the 10-furong distance of the Kentucky Derby.

Commanding Curve is a descendant of the Bold Ruler Ancestral Herd and he’s bred on a nick with the Northern Dancer Ancestral Herd.

Master Command, the sire of Commanding Curve, was a multiple graded-stakes winner who compiled an 8-2-2 record in 17 starts with $1,137,188 in career earnings. He made only two sprint starts at 6-furlongs, finishing second in both races, while all of his other races were in routes where he excelled at 9-furlongs.

Of Master Command’s eight victories, five of them were in stakes competition. His most notable stakes wins were in the National Jockey Club Handicap (G3), New Orleans Handicap (G2), Meadowlands Breeders’ Cup Stakes (G2) and the William Donald Schaefer Handicap (G3), all at 9-furlongs, and the 8½-furlong Mineshaft Handicap (G3).

A.P. Indy, the grandsire of Commanding Curve, won the 1992 Belmont Stakes and great grandsire, Seattle Slew, won the 1977 Triple Crown.

Lion Hearted, the damsire of Commanding Curve, was placed in several graded-stakes races and compiled a 4-6-3 record in 18 starts with $191,630 in earnings. Lion Hearted never started in a route race and his most notable stakes placing was a second-place finish in the Riva Ridge Stakes (G2) and the Amsterdam Stakes (G3), both at 6-furlongs.

So, it is unknown if Lion Hearted could be a speed or stamina influence for Commanding Curve. However, with the right breeding, the Storm Cat line has been known to produce stamina-oriented horses like Tabasco Cat and Giant’s Causeway.

In addition, Commanding Curve’s tail-female line is reinforced by the influences of Topsider and Tom Rolfe and Nodouble.

Trained by Dallas Stewart, Commanding Curve could be another sleeper in this Derby much like stable mate Golden Soul was in last year’s Derby.

HONORABLE MENTION goes to Wicked Strong (8-1) and Medal Count (20-1). Of those two, I like Medal Count the best as he’s really blossomed as a three year. He comes into the Derby with a 2-1-0 record in four starts.

 Medal Count is a descendant of the Royal Charger Ancestral Herd and, since 1990, that sire line has had 36 runners in the Kentucky Derby. Of those 36 horses, 13 (36%) finished in the Derby top four.

Dynaformer, the sire of Medal Count, has a good record in the Kentucky Derby. He has only sent four runners to previous Derbies and three of them finished in the money: Barbaro (2006), who finished first, Perfect Drift (2002) and Blumin Affair (1994), who both finished third.


          Here’s a look at the Ancestral Herds that have had an impact on the Triple Crown.

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).

ROYAL CHARGER ANCESTRAL HERD – The Ancestral Herd of Royal Charger has produced five Kentucky Derby winners since 1967: Barbaro (2006), Sunday Silence (1989), Sunny’s Halo (1983), Riva Ridge (1972) and Proud Clarion (1967).

2014 DERBY QUALIFIERS – Of the top 20 Derby qualifiers, seven (35%) are sire-line descendants of the Mr. Prospector Ancestral Herd: Ride On Curlin, Hoppertunity, General A Rod, Danza, Dance With Fate, Vinceremos and Candy Boy. Since 1990, the Mr. Prospector Ancestral Herd has dominated the Triple Crown Trail.

There are eight (40%) sire-line descendants of the Northern Dancer Ancestral Herd: We Miss Artie, Wicked Strong, Chitu, Harry’s Holiday, Intense Holiday, Vicar’s In Trouble, Wildcat Red and Samraat.

There are three (15%) sire-line descendants of the Bold Ruler Ancestral Herd: Commanding Curve, Tapiture and California Chrome. And one from the Nasrullah Ancestral Herd: Uncle Sigh.

Rounding out the top 20, Medal Count is sire-line descendant of the Royal Charger Ancestral Herd.


In the fall of 2012, Churchill Downs switched to the point system to determine Kentucky Derby eligibility. Of the top 20 horses on the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard in December of that year, only three went on to qualify and 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.

This year, there are only three horses in the 2014 Derby starting gate who were on the Leaderboard in December of 2013: Miss Artie, ranked seventh, Dance With Fate, ranked twelfth and Ride On Curlin, ranked seventeenth. Here’s a look at final list of qualifiers for Kentucky Derby 140.


Individual Leaders ranking, total points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings

1. California Chrome, 150, Art Sherman, $782,250

2. Vicar’s In Trouble, 120, Mike Maker, $760,000

3. Dance With Fate, 108, Peter Eurton, $600,000

4. Wicked Strong, 102, Jimmy Jerkens, $630,000

5. Samraat, 100, Rick Violette, Jr., $640,000

6. Danza, 100, Todd Pletcher, $620,000

7. Hoppertunity, 95, Bob Baffert, $576,000

8. Intense Holiday, 93, Todd Pletcher, $527,500

9. Wildcat Red, 90, Jose Garrofalo, $665,000

10. We Miss Artie, 60, Todd Pletcher, $544,000

11. Ride On Curlin, 55, Billy Gowan, $354,387

12. Chitu, 54, Bob Baffert, $440,000

13. Tapiture, 52, Steve Asmussen, $470,738

14. General A Rod, 40, Mike Maker, $240,000

15. Medal Count, 40, Dale Romans, $226,500

16. Candy Boy, 30, John Sadler, $380,000

17. Uncle Sigh, 24, Gary Contessa, $180,000

18. Vinceremos, 20, Todd Pletcher, $191,666

19. Harry’s Holiday, 20, Mike Maker, $152,622
20. Commanding Curve, 20, Dallas Stewart, $104,000


  1. I always read your blogs with interest and many times we agree but this time we disagree. I have been studying pedigrees for 50 years and, like you, have developed a method to estimate a horses potential from the pedigree. However, I use a pattern method to judge pedigrees and then use performance to make my final decision. I usually find 5-7 horses in the race with pedigrees that tell me they can stay the distance and it's basically a matter of judgement after that.
    In this race I totally disagree with you in the case of We Miss Artie and here's my reason; I have found only one horse over the years with Raise A native mares in key positions in the pedigree that could get 10f or more and that is a young horse across the pond named Ruler Of The World. The first horse I threw out of this Derby was We Miss Artie and Samraat.
    The horses with pedigrees I like are, in order of strength but not performance are; Candy Boy, Medal Count, Hoppertunity, Wildcat Red, California Chrome,General A Rod, Dance With Fate, Wicked Strong, Tapiture and I' kind of undecided about Danza.

    1. Backstretch,

      Thank you for your contribution to my blog. I appreciate your input.

  2. We Miss Artie apparently had a disappointing work at CD this week. How much consideration do you give to something like that?

    1. Wubert,

      It's always good to hear from you. I like to see good works. But, the bulk of what I consider is not dependent upon works.


  3. What the heck CC I'll throw him in, why not...

    1. Medal Count
    2. Intense Holiday
    3. Wildcat Red
    4. We Miss Artie
    5. General A Rod

    Take it to the bank!

    1. Cdpotato4,

      Good to hear from you, too. Good luck!

  4. Nice list Calvin...I'm on board w/3 of your top 6 picks.
    Ride On Curlin
    Medal Count
    Commanding Curve
    I was amazed at your selection of We Miss Artie totally overlooked this colt but in the last few years of the Derby there have been at least 7 runners who have run preps on synthetics from The Spiral and Bluegrass Stakes who have been ITM @ Louisville!
    Closers rule the day on Saturday!....Good luck!

  5. GOOD LUCK with your picks tomorrow, Calvin!


  6. Calvin thanks for your input, I'll be out there today.