The Top Derby Contenders From A Pedigree Perspective

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Courtesy of SB Nation
The Road to the Kentucky Derby is in full swing, and I want to take a look at a bunch of contenders and see how they fare from a pedigree vantage point. Often times this is overlooked, instead putting a ton of emphasis on how these horses have performed in their prep races. But in my eyes, pedigree is an important piece to the puzzle in figuring out which horse you like to win the Kentucky Derby. Since every horse in the race will be running 10 Furlongs for the first  time, I want to know who is bred to do so, and who have question marks..This list of contenders is ranked from who I see having the strongest long distance capacities, down to the weakest. So let’s begin.
Bolt d’Oro
With Megdaglia d’Oro being your sire, and AP Indy and Forty Niner in your dam sire line, distance will not be an issue for Bolt d’oro in his pursuit of a Kentucky Derby win.
Bolt d’Oro was purchased for $630,000 at Fasig-Tipton’s 2016 Saratoga yearling sale. Speaking of Megdaglia d’oro, he has been tremendous in the breeding shed, accounting for close to 100 stakes winners and 50 Graded Stakes winners, including 3 champions. He also has gotten multiple winners between 1 1/4 and 1 1/2 miles. On the track, Megdaglia d’Oro earned close to 6 million dollars, winning 3 Grade I races, and finishing 2nd in six others.
Bolt d’Oro’s dam, Globe Trot, was an allowance winner on the track, and her only other foal was stakes winner Sonic Mule. His grand dam, Trip, was a multiple GSW who earned close to $900,000 while racing. She is also a half sister to Joke, dam of Zensational. Bolt d’Oro’s 3rd,  4th, and 5th dams were also stakes winners. Bolt d’Oro also reigns from the same female family line (13-c) as the great Seattle Slew. This is a brilliant female family.
Bolt d’oro’s dam sire line is full of distance and class. His dam sire, Hall of Famer AP Indy, is a breed-shaping sire, producing 88 Graded Stakes Winners and 12 Champions. He is a designated Chef-de-Race horse classified as intermediate/classic distances. AP Indy sired Pulpit, who produced Tapit. Some of his other progeny who went on to become strong sires are Bernardini, Malibu Moon, Mineshaft and Flatter. On the track, as a three year old, AP Indy won both the Belmont Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 1992. His 2nd dam sire, Lord At War, won the Santa Anita Handicap at 10 furlongs. He is the sire of close to 50 stakes winners, and the broodmore sire of over 50 stakes winners, including War Emblem, Pioneer of the Nile (American Pharoah’s sire), and Master Command (sire of Raven’s Pass). Finally, his 3rd dam sire, Forty Niner, was the 1987 Eclipse Champion Two Year Old Male. He also won the 1988 Travers Stakes at 10 Furlongs, and lost by a neck to filly Winning Colors in that year’s Kentucky Derby. Forty Niner sired another great sire in Distorted Humor, as well as Belmont Stake’s winner Editor’s Note.
Bolt d’Oro, in my opinion, has a tremendous pedigree built of distance and class. He is a major player to win this year’s Kentucky Derby because of it.
Good Magic
Good Magic should relish the Derby distance, and here’s why.
He was a million dollar purchase at the 2016 Keenland September yearling sale. Good Magic is by the Hall of Famer Curlin, He has already produced winners of the last 2 legs of the Triple Crown, with Exaggerator winning the 2016 Preakness, and Palace Malice finishing 1st in the 2013 Belmont Stakes. Curlin’s runners have won at distances up to 1 1/2 miles. Curlin, himself, earned over 10 million dollars on the track, winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic at 3 and the Dubai World Cup at 4, both at 10 furlongs.
Good Magic’s dam, Glinda the Good, was both a stakes winner and stakes placed filly who earned $226,758 on the track. His grand dam, Magical Flash is the half-sister to Magical Maiden, a 2X Grade I victor, and stakes winner Magical Mile. She’s also the dam of 7 stakes winners. Good Magic’s 3rd dam, Gil’s Magic, is also the 3rd dam of Graded Stakes Winner Papa Clem.  With Northern Dancer crossed twice in his female family, there is a nice touch of class there.
Good Magic’s first dam sire is Hard Spun, who earned over 2 million dollars on the track. He placed at both classic distances of 1 3/16 and 1 1/4 miles. Hard Spun has produced numerous winners at distances between 1 3/16 and 1 3/4 of a mile. His 2nd dam sire, Miswaki, sired 97 stakes winners, including 1991 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Black Tie Affair, and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe victor Urban Sea, who gave out Galileo, My Typhoon, and Sea The Stars. His 3rd dam sire, Magesterial, sired 26 stakes winners.
I like Good Magic’s pedigree a lot in terms of his ability to get the Derby distance. Everything checks out right.
Magnum Moon
Although Magnum Moon’s female family has a penchant for speed, his sire produced a Kentucky Derby winner, while his dam sire line is gifted with stamina. I feel Magnum Moon should not have a problem covering the Derby distance.
Magnum Moon is by Malibu Moon, who gave us 2013 Derby Champ Orb. Currently, he’s sired over 100 stakes winners, close to 50 Graded Stakes winners, and his progeny has over $100 million dollars in earnings. Malibu Moon’s only raced twice, due to a career ending injury.
Magnum Moon’s dam is Dazzling Song. She was unraced, but was bought for $825,000 at Keenland September 2009 sale. Her mom, Win McCool, was a Grade III winning sprinter. Magnum Moon’s 3rd dam, Win Crafty Lady, was also a Grade III winning sprinter. She gave out multiple Grade II winner Graeme Hall, Grade I winner Harmony Lodge, and stakes winner Win’s Fair Lady. Magnum Moon has a touch of class with his female family, but as I said before, it is geared towards speed.
It is in Magnum Moon’s dam sire line, which I believe is most important towards a horse’s stamina (or lack of), that shows me distance shouldn’t be an issue with him. His dam sire, Unbridled’s Song, never won past 1 1/8 miles, but became one of the most sought after sires of our time. 2 horses I can think of that won at 1 1/4 miles of recency for him were Arrogate ( Travers Stakes,Breeders’ Cup Classic) and Will Take Charge (Travers Stakes). His 2nd dam sire, Giant’s Causeway, was a top 10 furlong performer in Europe, and is a known stamina influence as a sire. Finally, his 3rd dam sire, Crafty Prospector, tallied up just under 100 stakes winners in his breeding career.
Magnum Moon’s pedigree is pretty strong, especially when looking at it from a distance perspective, and should give him enough stamina to get 1 1/4 miles.
Solomini has good bloodlines, with a Hall of Fame father and a third dam sire who is a major stamina influence. He’s another one who I can envision getting the Derby distance.
Solomini is by Curlin, who also is Good Magic’s sire. As I said earlier in this piece, Curlin has already produced winners of the last 2 legs of the Triple Crown, with Exaggerator winning the 2016 Preakness, and Palace Malice finishing 1st in the 2013 Belmont Stakes. Curlin’s runners have won at distances up to 1 1/2 miles. Curlin, himself, earned over 10 million dollars on the track, winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic at 3 and the Dubai World Cup at 4, both at 10 furlongs.
Solomini is out of Surf Song, who was unraced, but she’s produced 5 winners thus far, including one that won at 1 3/8 of a mile. His grand dam, Fleet Lady, earned over $600,000 on the track, and is the dam of both Eclipse Champion 2 year old Midshipman, and Grade 2 winner Fast Cookie, who is Frosted’s dam. And going back 5 generations in Solomini’s female family line, you’ll find Reines de Course mare Carnival Queen. This three year old has some nice class stemming from his female family..
Solomini’s dam sire is the great Storm Cat, a true sire of sires. He’s known for being a star broodmare sire, but has also shown a penchant to give out speed over stamina. That said, of recency he was the dam sire of Shared Belief, who was fast but also could carry his speed long. His 2nd dam sire, Avenue of Flags, only produced 20 stakes winners (including California Flag). His 3rd dam sire, Roberto, was an Epsom Derby winner and named after baseball legend Roberto Clemente. He’s known to be a great influencer of stamina.
Solomini’s pedigree, in my eyes, passes the grade on distance and class. He is one to be watched if he makes it into the Derby field.
Catholic Boy
Catholic Boy’s Sire, More Than Ready, is not known as a strong stamina influence. His female family is decent enough. But his dam sire line is full of long distance running, and that is why Catholic Boy should be up to the task of handling the Derby distance.
More Than Ready is what gives Catholic Boy his versatility to perform at a high level on turf as well as dirt, as he did for Verrazano. His performers usually win at about 1 1/16 miles. More Than Ready has been a tremendous sire, with over 175 Stakes Winners, and 75 Graded Stakes Winners.
Catholic Boy’s dam, Song of Bernadette, was winless in 5 starts. His grand dam, Winner’s Edge, was a Grade III placed filly who won at distances up to 1 3/8 miles. She is also a half-sister to Lucky Song, a Group 2 winner at 1 3/4 miles overseas. Catholic Boy does stem from female family number 9-g, the same one as the first American Triple Crown winner, Sir Barton.
Catholic Boy’s Dam sire line gives clues towards his ability to get 1 1/4 miles. His dam sire is Bernardini, the 2006  Preakness and Travers Stakes winner. His Average Winning Distance is 7.6, which is strong. Only Tapit has more Graded Stakes Winners than Bernardini over the past 3 years. Catholic Boy’s 2nd dam sire is Seeking the Gold, who won the Super Derby at 1 1/4 miles, and finished 2nd in the Travers Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic. He is the sire of 4 Breeders’ Cup Champions and 2 Eclipse Champions. Finally, his 3rd dam sire, Nijinsky, was a winner of the British Triple Crown. He also sired over 150 stakes winners, including Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand, along with 3 Epsom Derby winners. Nijinsky was a leading stamina influence.
Because of his dam sire line, Catholic Boy will probably be able cover 10 furlongs, although this would be stretching it for a son of More Than Ready. First he needs to gather enough points to qualify for the Kentucky Derby.
Justify has a nice looking pedigree and wouldn’t seem to have a problem covering the Derby distance, after looking at his dam sire line.

Justify was a $500,000 2016 Keenland September yearling purchase. His sire, Scat Daddy, unfortunately died in his paddock at a young age. He was a beast in the breeding shed during that time, having amassed close to 100 stakes winners to date. On this year’s derby trail, along with Justify, he is the dad of  Flameaway, Combatant, and Mendelsshon. Scat Daddy never won past 1 1/8 miles, has had a lot more success with his turf runners than his dirt, and has had only 7 winners at the mile and a quarter distance or further, with most being on grass.

Justify’s dam, Stage Magic, was a multiple stakes placed horse on the track. His grand dam, Magical Illusion, was a stakes winner, and 3rd dam, Voodoo Lily, was a Grade III winner. Justify has some class running through his tail female line.

Justify’s dam sire is Hall Of Famer Ghostzapper, who was a Grade I winner from 6.5 furlongs up to 10 furlongs, where he won the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic. He is recently represented by Shaman Ghost, who won the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap at 1 1/4 miles, as well as the Grade II Brooklyn Handicap at 1 1/2 miles. More recently, his daughter, Holy Helena, won the Grade III The Very One, at 1 3/16 and The Queen’s Plate at 1 1/4 miles. His 2nd dam sire, Pulpit, is a Chef de Race sire and produced Tapit. He was also the grand sire of California Chrome and Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist. Justify’s 3rd dam sire, Baldski, had 49 stakes winners. Justify carries a cross with Nijinsky, which is excellent to see when it comes to distance.
Justify has a nice pedigree, especially with his first 2 dam sires. It should be able to carry him a long way if he makes it into the Kentucky Derby, which is still in question, and the talent we’ve seen from him so far would only help enable him in covering the Derby distance.
Enticed has the same sire (Megdaglia d’Oro) as Bolt d’Oro, but his dam sire line is of less quality than his. Still, there is reason to believe he can get 1 1/4 miles.
As stated earlier, Megdaglia d ‘Oro has been tremendous in the breeding shed, accounting for close to 100 stakes winners and 50 Graded Stakes winners, including 3 champions. He also has gotten multiple winners between 1 1/4 and 1 1/2 miles. 2 of his best progeny are fillies, Rachel Alexandra and Songbird. On the track, Megdaglia d’Oro earned close to 6 million dollars, winning 3 Grade I races, and finishing 2nd in six others
Enticed Dam, It’s Tricky, was extremely talented on the race track, earning over 1.5 million dollars. She won the Grade I Coaching Club American Oaks (9F) and Acorn Stakes (8F) at 3, and won the Grade I Ogden Phipps Handicap at 4. His grand dam, Catboat, was a Grade 3 winner.
Enticed dam sire, Mineshaft, was the 2003 Horse of the Year. He is not a particularly strong stamina influence, although his son, Effinex, won 3 times at the classic distance. His 2nd dam sire, Tale of the Cat, has produced over 150 stakes winners with earnings of over 150 million dollars. He’s another sire who is not known to give out stamina, although his best son, Gio Ponti, won at the distance of 1 3/8 miles. Finally, Enticed 3rd dam sire, Afleet, was the 1987 Canadian Horse of the Year and progeny earned over $125 million dollars.   .
Enticed dam sires don’t shout out distance, but there’s no shame in having Megdaglia d’Oro as your dad and It’s Tricky as your mom. It’s not a stretch to say that he’s capable of being a mile and a quarter horse.
McKinzie’s ability to get 10 furlongs has some question marks, but he may just have the talent to do it.
He is by Street Sense, the winner of the 2007 Kentucky Derby and Travers Stakes, both at 10 furlongs. In the barn, Street Sense is not known for producing 1 1/4 mile horses of top caliber. His best American progeny by earnings are Sweet Reason and Wedding Toast.
McKinzie’s dam, Runaway Model, earned over $725,000 on the track, running third in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and 2nd in the G1 Ashland Stakes. She is also a black type producer, and sold for 2.7 million dollars at Keenland November 2006 sale. His grand dam, Ticket To Houston, was a stakes winner and also sold for 2 million dollars at Keenland November 2005 sale. His third dam, Stave, was also a stakes winner and the dam of 3 stakes winners. McKinzie’s female family has plenty of brilliance.
Mickinzie’s dam sire line is not particularly strong. His dam sire, Petionville, earned over $800,000 on the track, and has produced 46 stakes winners, including Island Fashion, winner of the Grade I Alabama Stakes at 10 Furlongs. His 2nd dam sire, Houston, was a sprinter who later in his breeding career became one of the leading sires in California. And his 3rd dam sire, Navajo, was a Grade II winner who stood stud in Illinois.
My analysis is that McKinzie has a modest pedigree,  but may be gifted enough to stay the Derby distance.
Audible’s pedigree is not a strong one when looking towards Kentucky Derby success, but there are a couple of clues that the distance may be in his wheelhouse.
Audible is by Into Mischief. He’s been a successful sire so far, so much that his stud fee for 2018 at Spendthrift’s Farm is $100,000. Known to be a strong producer of 2-year-olds, Into Mischief has produced 13 Graded Stakes Winners. His top racers have included Goldenscents, Vyjack, and Practical Joke, who all had distance limitations, but turned out to be superb sprinter/milers. Into Mischief himself excelled at short distances, while running only 6 races in his brief career. The Average Winning Distance of his progeny is 6.68, which shows that Audible could possibly be distance challenged.
Audible’s dam is Blue Devil Bel, a sprinter who took in just over $100,000 on the track. His 4th dam, Classy Cathy, was a 3 time Grade I winner who earned over $500,000 in her career. She is a winner of the Alabama Stakes, a race going 1 1/4 miles (same distance as Kentucky Derby), giving hope towards Audible’s ability to possibly do the same. She also produced Placereville, who beat Urban Sea in the 1 1/4 Prince of Wale’s Stakes. Audible’s female family, though, is generally light on class especially in the more immediate part of it.
Audible’s dam sire, Gilded Time, was a Champion 2 Year Old. He also spent his racing career sprinting. His best offspring were Gayego (Ancient Title Stakes) and Elloluv (Ashland Stakes). Gilded Time sired earners of over 50 million dollars, but his runners were generally sprinter types. Audible’s 2nd dam sire, Gulch, was the 1988 Eclipse Champion Sprinter and earner of over 3 million dollars. He is the sire of Thunder Gulch, who won the 1995 Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes. Finally, Audible’s 3rd dam sire, Easy Goer, won 4 G1 races at 10 furlongs as a three year old.
Overall,  Audible’s dam sire line shows us that there’s some hope towards his ability to cover the Kentucky Derby distance, as his 2nd and 3rd dam sire either gave winners off or won at 10 furlongs or further in big races. Maybe his talent will overcome his pedigree. We’ll find out more in the Florida Derby.

Noble Indy

By Florida Derby winner Take Charge Indy, and out of a stakes winning sprinter, Noble Indy’s pedigree is not as strong as many of his peers, but he may just have enough going for him to cover the 10 furlongs when looking at his 2nd and 3rd dam sire.

Noble Indy’s sire, Take Charge Indy, earned just over a million dollars on the track, winning the Grade I Florida Derby at 3 going 9 furlong, showing speed just like Noble Indy did in his Louisiana Derby win. Will Take Charge has a brilliant pedigree, by AP Indy out of 2013 Broodmare of the Year Take Charge Lady. Will Take Charge finished 3rd with his freshman crop in 2017 by earnings, and so far this year is the leading second crop sire. While most of his winners thus far have won at sprint distances, he has produce one winner in his young stallion career at 1 3/16 miles. He now stands in Korea.

Noble Indy’s dam, Noble Maz, was a stakes winner at 5 furlongs. She did race 28 times, and earned over $300,000. His grand dam, Illusive Note, was unraced and the dam of 3 winners, including Noble Maz. His 4th dam, Impetuous Gal, was a GII winner at 9 furlongs, and gave out Banker’s Lady, a GI winner and earner of over $500,000. This is a very ordinary female family.

Noble Indy’s dam sire is Storm Boot. He only earned $70,000 on the track, and was Storm Cat’s first successful sire, producing 46 stakes winners with earnings of over $26 million dollars. He, too, was known for his speed on the track. His second dam sire, Dixieland Band, was a multiple Grade II winner at 9 furlongs. He had a very successful breeding career, siring over 115 stakes winners and over 40 Graded Stakes winners. He was a strong broodmare sire, producing both Kentucky Derby winners Street Sense and Monarchos. Finally, Noble Indy’s 3rd dam sire is Travers Stakes winner and 1987 champion two year old Forty Niner. He was an excellent producer in the breeding shed, giving us the likes of Distorted Humor (tremendous sire), Travers Stakes winner Coronado’s Quest, and Belmont Stakes winner Editor’s Note.

While being by a young sire in Will Take Charge, who was known for his speed, and having a female family that’s modest at best, Noble Indy’s dam sire line gives us enough clues to say that there’s a possibility he can stretch his speed out to 10 furlongs. It did, though, look like there was a lot asked of him to do it at 9 furlongs in yesterday’s Louisiana Derby.

Promises Fulfilled
Out of all the Derby contenders I’ve profiled in this article, Promises Fulfilled has the most question marks in terms of his ability to wear the roses come the first Saturday in May.

Promises Fulfilled is by Preakness Stakes winner Shackleford, and this is only his second crop of three year olds to race. He becomes the 4th stakes winner for Shackleford, following Malagacy, Wellabled and Dream It. Shackleford was very fast, and he seems to have passed his speed on to Promises Fulfilled, after viewing his gate-to-wire upset in the G2 Fountain of Youth.

Promises Fulfiled’s dam, Marquee Delivery, was a Grade III winner at a mile and an eighth. His grand dam, Fast Delivery, was a multiple stakes winning filly. The back end of his female family is nothing of note.

Promises Fulfilled’s dam sire, Marquestry, earned close to $3 million dollars on the race track, including winning the Grade I Hollywood Gold Cup at 10 Furlongs. He sired 35 stakes winners with progeny earnings of over $40 million dollars. He produced 2 champions, but both were sprinters (Artax and Squirtle Squirt). Promises Fulfilled 2nd dam sire is Little Missouri. He won the Grade I Brooklyn Handicap at 1 1/2 miles, and also sired Preakness Stakes winner Prairie Bayou. His 3rd dam sire, Copelan, didn’t win at distances up to 1 1/4 miles, and wasn’t much of a producer in the breeding shed either.

With a young sire in which you have little to go on, a female family that isn’t particularly strong, and a dam sire line producing little in terms of stamina, I can’t recommend Promises Fulfilled to last the distance of 10 furlongs, especially with a dosage index of 9.00.

Final Analysis 

Out of the 11 horses I analyzed in my article on pedigree and which three year olds have the capacity to get the distance, I see the vast majority as having a chance, with some being more convincing than others. I hope this gives you something to run with as a piece of the puzzle towards who becomes your favorite horse in this year’s Kentucky Derby. I also hope to do another similar piece with horses I left out. Thanks for reading!


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