2013 Kentucky Derby Horse Pedigrees
by Trevor Whenham - 4/30/2013
Call me a geek if you want, but my very favorite part of Kentucky Derby handicapping — and there are few things I love more than Kentucky Derby handicapping — is studying the pedigrees for insights and warning signs. Kentucky Derby pedigree analysis is far more of an art than a science. Horses are being asked to run further and faster than they ever have before, and we really don’t know how they will handle it until it happens.
By looking at their pedigrees, though, we can’t find clues that can help us deduce which horses may be well suited to the distance and which ones could be in trouble. As I look over the pedigrees in this field, here are seven that stand out as interesting — in good or bad ways:
This horse is going to get a fair bit of attention because jockey Rosie Napravnik is a budding star who has been a media darling leading up to the race. As great as it would be to see her win, I am just not convinced her horse has the breeding. Mylute’s sire, Midnight Lute, is a two-time Breeders’ Cup winner. However, those wins came in the Sprint, so the Derby distance is a real concern for his offspring. His sire is Real Quiet, though — the winner of the Derby and Preakness in 1998 — so there is at least a chance that Mylute will have some distance influences from his sire side. Unfortunately, his damsire doesn’t add a lot of distance help, either — Valid Expectations is more of a producer of milers.
His accomplishments don’t stand out in this field, but his breeding sure does. This horse is built to run forever. His sire is the great Curlin, the horse of the year in 2007 and 2008. He won over long distances. And though we are still early in his days as a sire, he is clearly passing on his stamina to his offspring. Palace Malice gets stamina from his dam’s side as well. Damsire Royal Anthem produces real stamina, though it has shown up more on turf than on dirt. This horse isn’t going to run out of gas. It just remains to be seen if he is fast enough.
This horse only got into the field on Monday thanks to a slew of withdrawals. He’ll be completely overlooked by bettors. That’s probably deserved, but his breeding at least gives him a bit of hope. His pedigree is more directed towards turf than dirt, but the stamina influences are very present. Sire Perfect Soul produces distance horses and is the grandson of the great Secretariat. Golden Soul’s damsire was the legendary Mr. Prospector. He has produced so many Triple Crown race winners and sires of race winners that it is almost unbelievable. Just one incredible example — he is the sire of 1990 Derby winner Unbridled, who sired 1996 Derby winner Grindstone, 2000 Preakness winner Red Bullet, and 2003 Belmont Winner Empire Maker. Grindstone sired 2004 Belmont winner Birdstone. Birdstone sired 2009 Derby winner Mine That Bird and 2009 Belmont winner Summer Bird. Needless to say, having Mr. Prospector in your pedigree is a very good thing.
Let’s start with the bad news. Damsire Cee’s Tizzy does his best work producing milers, and that’s not much help here. Fortunately, though, Oxbow gets plenty of stamina from sire Awesome Again. The winner of both the Queen’s Plate and the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Awesome Again has been even more successful as a stud. His son, Ghostzapper, was Horse of the Year in 2004 and won at great distance. Game On Dude has won five Grade I races and nearly $4 million. Awesome Again is the only Breeders’ Cup winner to have sired four Breeders’ Cup winners. Oxbow has had very bad racing luck, but his breeding means he shouldn’t be ignored.
This horse might not wind up as post-time favorite, but he has been favored in futures action for months. His breeding doesn’t jump off the page, but it is more than adequate for the challenge. Sire More Than Ready has produced horses that seem to excel at a mile — especially in Australia where he shuttles to in the American breeding offseason — but he has produced horses with more stamina at times, so his presence isn’t a knock against Verrazano. Damsire Giant’s Causeway is a monster of a stud and has stamina to burn, though it has shown itself more on the turf than the dirt. Overall I look at Verrazano’s breeding as a neutral handicapping factor — it doesn’t help my opinion of the horse, but it doesn’t hurt it, either.
If Verrazano isn’t favored, Orb likely will be. I love the horse, and the breeding isn’t too shabby, either. The Derby distance is perhaps tough for sire Malibu Moon, but he has shown all sorts of ability to produce offspring that can handle only slightly shorter distances, and he is a son of the great A.P. Indy, so his presence is largely positive. Orb’s damsire is Unbridled, who we have already talked about — as the sire of three Triple Crown race winners, his credentials are unquestioned.
Thanks to the presence of jockey Calvin Borel, this horse will be bet hard. He has a pedigree that could suit Borel’s style. Sire War Pass tends to produce more milers, but they have a strong turn of foot, so this horse should have the speed to make the aggressive move Borel will certainly call for. Damsire A.P. Indy won the Belmont himself and has sired Preakness and Belmont winners along with several top sires, so stamina is in massive supply and could help compensate for some of the War Pass issues. Like Verrazano, it’s not a perfect pedigree, but it isn’t a major liability, either.
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