I have a pretty good record
picking Kentucky Derby winners the last few years, so I'm going to stick my neck
out in print this year. While the final preps have yet to be run, the field is
starting to shape up based on what I would expect from their pedigrees. Those
with more stamina in their pedigrees are moving to the top.
Even before points
are awarded, I start sorting out the contenders based on their juvenile form,
and continue throughout the winter/spring as they run through the prep races.
Any horse by a proven classic winner (Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Belmont Stakes)
or by a proven sire of a classic winner automatically gets an early 9 furlong
designation. If the sire is more of a speed influence, like More Than Ready, Into
Mischief, Speightstown or City Zip, that shortens up the classic potential accordingly
and I might be thinking more in line of a good 7 or 8 furlong runner. Keep in
mind that there are stamina influences who are not ideal American classic influences
either due to maturity or surface issues. Giant's Causeway has earned his reputation
for passing on stamina in large part to his turf runners. Ghostzapper, as classy
as he is, tends to get runners who might not be as mature as we'd like in the
spring of their sophomore year.
Then I look at the broodmare's side, especially
her sire. If she's by a proven classic winner or classic sire, she adds to the
horse's distance potential. Likewise, if the broodmare sire is a speed influence,
it shortens up the potential.
Don't even mention "dosage" or I will
do my best to reach through this screen and smack you upside your head.
an added bit of data, I'm including the average winning distance (AWD) of progeny
by the sire and out of the dam, and the average of the parents to get an expected
average winning distance. AWDs can be deceiving, since there is a bias to speed,
so you have to take them with a grain of salt. Most horses break their maidens
at shorter distances, and most racing in the U.S. is at 6 furlongs. A horse that
consistently sires runners that want to go long will wind up with a progeny AWD
of at least 7 furlongs, and a few will have an average over 8 furlongs. Those
are the true stamina influences, even though the average of 8 furlongs on the
surface seems to suggest a miler type.
Last year's champion 2-year-old, Good
Magic, was by Preakness winner Curlin, who is proving himself a stamina influence,
and is the sire of Belmont winner Palace Malice, Preakness winner Exaggerator,
and Travers winner Keen Ice. Good Magic's dam was a miler and she's by the brilliant
Hard Spun, a free-running speed horse whose tons of game carried him out to 9
furlongs. That shortened my evaluation of Good Magic's best distance to 9 furlongs
instead of a solid 10. He was third in his 3-year-old debut in the Fountain of
Youth Stakes-G2, which was disappointing but he should improve off that. He may
prove my estimate wrong but I'm willing to bet he won't get the Derby distance
on the first Saturday in May.
His chief rival, Bolt d'Oro, however, has a different
profile. His sire Medaglia d'Oro loved 10 furlongs and although he's sired a wide
range of performers, his runners include Preakness winner Rachel Alexandra. Bolt
d'Oro's dam is by A.P. Indy, a classic winner himself and sire of Preakness winner
Bernardini and Belmont winner Rags to Riches. Bolt d'Oro's dam Globe Trot won
3 races, all at a mile. She's has one foal before Bolt d'Oro, the consumate sprinter
Sonic Mule (by Distorted Humor), but that's not holding Bolt d'Oro back, since
he's already won out to 8 1/2 furlongs in the San Felipe-G2 with no signs of hitting
the wall yet.
If I like Bolt d'Oro, I similarly like Enticed, who is also by
Medaglia d'Oro out of a mare by a son of A.P. Indy. Enticed's dam is by Mineshaft,
a 10 furlong lover and sire of stamina. Enticed's dam, It's Tricky, won the C.C.A.
Oaks-G1, which used to be a filly equivalent of the Belmont Stakes and run at
1 1/2 miles but that was before NYRA messed with tradition. It is now run at 1
1/8 miles so doesn't represent stamina like it used to, but still stamps It's
Tricky as a decent router. I actually prefer Enticed over Bolt d'Oro in this match
up and right now, he's my overall choice for the big one in May.
a close relative to Preakness winner Oxbow, who was also by Awesome Again and
out of a mare by Cee's Tizzy, second dam by a son of Seattle Slew. Bravazo's dam,
Tiz o'Gold was a sprinter/miler and her sire Cee's Tizzy won out to a mile but
placed at 10 furlongs. More importantly, he sired the top 10 furlongs horse Tiznow.
The next dam is by Slew o' Gold. Awesome Agains usually improve with age and while
Bravazo is on a relatively early track, he might need more time to tackle a longer
Other horses that I think have the best Derby pedigrees include Magnum
Moon (although he may not have enough experience), Free Drop Billy, Quip and McKinzie.
I have a sentimental attachment to Flameaway (dead game, versatile, great name,
great owner and a personal connection to his stakes-winning half sister) but don't
think that Scat Daddy is going to take him the whole route. For the same reason,
I can't root for Combatant, or the current hype horse Justify, or last year's
Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf winner Mendelssohn, all by Scat Daddy.
by Anne Peters 2018.
Contenders (as of March 22, 2018) listed by Derby points|
|last start |
guestimate to distance ability
|1st San Felipe S.-G2 (8.5f.)|
|1st Gotham S.-G3 (8.5f.)|
|1st Risen Star S.-G2 (8.5f.)|
of Youth S.-G2 (8.5f.)|
S.-G2 (8.5f.) |
|1st Tampa Bay Derby (8.5f.)|
|2nd San Felipe S.-G2|
|3rd Fountain of Youth S.-G2|
|2nd Rebel S.-G2|
|2nd Tampa Bay Derby-G2|
(Poseidon's Warrior/ Langfuhr
|4th Gotham S.-G3|
(Union Rags/ Giant's Causeway)
(Proud Citizen/ Langfuhr)
|1st Jeff Ruby S.-G3A
|3rd Rebel S.-G2|
Yes It's True)
|2nd Risen Star
|2nd Gotham S.-G3|
of Youth S.-G2|
|4th Risen Star S.-G2|
(More Than Ready/
|2nd Sam F Davis
|1st Holy Bull S.-G2|
(Malibu Moon/ Najran)
|1st Springboard Mile|
|3rd San Felipe S.-G2|
San Felipe S.-G2|
(Take Charge Indy/
|3rd Risen Star
(Aikenite/ A.P. Indy)
|2nd Jeff Ruby S.-G2|
|2nd Patton S. (IRE)|
Daddy/ Tricky Creek
|Patton S. (IRE)|
Lookin At Lucky)