How the KY Derby contenders measure up on pedigree

American Pharoah wins the G1 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park on April 11. Photo: Coady Photography.

Fans of American Pharoah can take heart from the fact that, as a son of Pioneerof The Nile, he is the only descendant of Fappiano likely to line up in the Kentucky Derby.

The Fappiano sire line has supplied three winners of the race since 1995 - Grindstone (1996), Real Quiet (1998), and Mine That Bird (2009) - while descendants of Fappiano’s sire, Mr. Prospector, have won 10 overall. They include Mr. Prospector’s son, Fusaichi Pegasus, the 2000 Kentucky Derby winner, who is represented by International Star this time around.

Also well represented is veteran Taylor Made stallion Northern Afleet as the sire of War Story and grandsire of Materiality. The latter colt bids to go two better than his sire, Afleet Alex, the Derby’s third-place finisher in 2005.

This year’s race also serves to highlight the number of promising young stallions at stud since three runners - Bolo (Temple City), Firing Line (Line Of David), and Tencendur (Warrior’s Reward) - are members of their sires’ first crops. American Pharoah is from the second crop of Pioneerof The Nile, who remains the dominant leader among the 2010 intake of stallions.

In a fine illustration of the emerging power of the Spendthrift Farm roster, Line Of David, Temple City, and Warrior’s Reward each stand at B. Wayne Hughes’ operation alongside Malibu Moon. Among them, they are responsible for six of the 20 likely runners.


b c Pioneerof The Nile - Littleprincessemma (Yankee Gentleman)

Bred by Zayat Stables LLC

Zayat Stables’ homebred American Pharoah looks to have inherited stamina from sire Pioneerof The Nile, who ran second in the 2009 Kentucky Derby and is a son of another Kentucky Derby runner-up in Empire Maker.

Empire Maker, by the 1990 Kentucky Derby hero Unbridled, robbed Funny Cide of the 2003 Triple Crown when winning the Belmont Stakes and is responsible for a number of high-class runners that have come into their own over 9 furlongs or further, including Royal Delta, Icon Project, and Bodemeister.

American Pharoah is from the second crop of Pioneerof The Nile and the highlight of his seven stakes winners overall. Others include G2 Holy Bull Stakes winner Cairo Prince, an early favourite for last year’s Kentucky Derby before injury intervened, and G2 Summertime Oaks winner Jojo Warrior.

What is almost certain is that American Pharoah will be relying on his sire’s stamina at the business end of the race. His dam, Littleprincessemma, showed little in two starts over 5.5 furlongs and 6 furlongs as a 2-year-old. She is a daughter of Yankee Gentleman, a minor stakes-winning sprinter by Storm Cat now at stud in Louisiana, and a half-sister to Storm Wolf, winner of the G2 Lazaro Barrera Memorial Stakes over 7 furlongs, and Misty Rosette, winner of the G3 Old Hat Stakes over 6.5 furlongs. He is the second foal out of Littleprincessemma, whose first, the Maimonides colt Xixixi, is a two-time winner in minor company over 6 furlongs.


b/br c Temple City - Aspen Mountain (Chief Seattle)

Bred by Spendthrift Farm LLC

Bolo is a feather in the cap for Spendthrift Farm’s Temple City, a G3 winner who started his stud career standing for $5,000. However, he boasts a pedigree out of the top drawer as a son of Dynaformer from the immediate family of Malibu Moon, himself sire of 2013 Kentucky Derby winner Orb.

So far, he has upheld the family reputation by siring four stakes winners, including G2 scorer Startup Nation, out of a first crop of 89.

Time may tell that Temple City is more of a grass influence. G1-placed on turf himself, all bar one of his stakes winners, Saratoga Heater, have also gained their biggest wins on turf.

However, although Bolo is a listed winner on grass, he comes into the race having run third on dirt in the Santa Anita Derby. The question is whether he will find enough improvement on the surface to be competitive in the Kentucky Derby.

Working in his favour is that both his winning siblings won on dirt while he is out of a placed daughter of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner-up Chief Seattle; although disappointing at stud, Chief Seattle is a son of heavy dirt influence Seattle Slew. His dam Aspen Mountain is also a half-sister to the dam of 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird and his G1-winning half-brother Dullahan, who ran third in the 2012 renewal.


ch c Giant’s Causeway - Rebridled Dreams (Unbridled’s Song)

Bred by Coffee Pot Stables

Giant’s Causeway’s stud record contains winners at the top level in each corner of the world, ranging from European classic heroes to Breeders’ Cup winners. He has been responsible for top 2-year-olds as well as older horses while he has a number of successful sons at stud and is a noted broodmare sire.

Yet still missing from his resume is an American classic winner. Five sons have lined up in the Kentucky Derby since his first 3-year-olds raced in 2005, with Creative Cause faring best when fifth in 2012.

Carpe Diem, winner of the Breeders’ Futurity and Blue Grass Stakes, appeals as the stallion’s best chance so far to put that omission right. He has been a prized commercial commodity throughout his life, selling for $550,000 as a yearling to Northwest Stud before commanding a co-sale-topping $1.6 million from Stonestreet Stables at last year’s OBS March Sale.

Bred on the same Giant’s Causeway - Unbridled’s Song cross as G2 winner Hold Me Back, who ran 12th in the 2009 Kentucky Derby, he is a half-brother to J.B.’s Thunder (by Thunder Gulch), winner of the 2010 G1 Breeders’ Futurity, and smart British sprinter Doncaster Rover (by War Chant), now standing at Hedgeholme Stud in County Durham.

Their dam, Rebridled Dreams, was a tough mare who won four of 20 starts including the Money Penny Stakes over 8.5 furlongs. She is out of another tough mare in Key Cents, whose 13 victories included the listed Iroquois Handicap.


b c Malibu Moon - Leaveminthedust (Danzig)

Bred by William D. Graham

Danzig Moon is one of three possible starters by Malibu Moon, alongside Mr. Z and Stanford.  

Malibu Moon had to earn notoriety the hard way after injury forced him into retirement following his second start, a maiden victory at Hollywood Park. He stood his early seasons at Country Life Farm in Maryland for as little as $3,000 but was transferred to Kentucky in 2004 when his first crop contained G2-winning 2-year-old Perfect Moon.

Today, the son of A.P. Indy boasts a record of nine G1 winners, including the 2013 Kentucky Derby winner Orb, and stands for $95,000 at Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky.

Like Orb, Danzig Moon boasts close connections to the Phipps family. A half-brother to three minor winners, he is out of a placed sister to Ogden Mills Phipps’ G3 winner Defer. His granddam, the G2-placed Mr. Prospector mare Hidden Reserve, was a half-sister to Phipps’ champion older mare Inside Information, the 1995 Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner who later bred another champion in Smuggler. Hidden Reserve was also a half-sister to dual G1 winner Educated Risk.


ch c Big Brown - Our Josephina (Tale Of The Cat)

Bred by Emilie Gerlinde Fojan

Dortmund is by far the best runner by 2008 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes hero Big Brown, who stood his first season in 2009 at Three Chimneys Farm in Kentucky for $65,000 but is available this year for $8,500 at Dutchess Views Farm in New York. Prior to Dortmund, the best performer from Big Brown’s first three crops was Irish G3 winner Darwin.

Bred when his sire stood for $40,000, Dortmund was purchased by Donato Lanni for $140,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Two-Year-Olds In Training Sale, making him the most expensive Big Brown juvenile to change hands in 2014.

Inbred 3x3 to Danzig, he is the best of four winners out of Our Josephina, who was trained by his breeder, Emilie Fojan, to win the listed Ohio Valley Stakes. Dortmund’s dam is a granddaughter of Lakeville Miss, the champion 2-year-old filly of 1977, who stretched out to take the G1 CCA Oaks at 3 and later bred 1985 G1 Champagne Stakes winner Mogambo.

Incidentally, Dortmund’s second dam, the Danzig mare Ropa Usada, was imported out of Europe back to the U.S. by John Gunther, also breeder of Materiality.


gr c Scat Daddy - Great Venue (Unbridled’s Song)

Bred by Rustlewood Farm Inc.

The Hennessy sire line might be a noted source of 2-year-old speed, but Scat Daddy has proven to be a versatile stallion, with high-class 3-year-olds Lady Of Shamrock (winner of the G1 American Oaks) and Handsome Mike (winner of the G2 Pennsylvania Derby) to his credit alongside top juvenile No Nay Never.

He has also been a revelation in Chile, where his eight G1 winners include champions Il Campione and Solaria.

El Kabeir, who co-topped the 2013 OBS August Sale when selling to Zayat Stables through EQB, Inc., as agent, for $250,000, will bid to become Scat Daddy’s first Kentucky-bred G1 winner on dirt when he tackles the Kentucky Derby.

He is the first foal out of the unraced Great Venue, an Unbridled’s Song half-sister to G2-winning sprinter Too Much Bling. However, two other smart siblings, Barnsy and Ready For Roses, were stakes winners beyond a mile. El Kabeir was staying on into third behind Frosted in the Wood Memorial and, given his style of running, could be one to find further improvement over added distance


ch c Notional - Zindi (Vindication)

Bred by Nossab LLC & Patrick J Crowley

Victory for this colt would be one of the more popular outcomes given he was bought by Jon Jazdzeweski for just $2,500 at the Keeneland January Sale.

He has become a valuable flag-bearer for Notional, the 2007 G2 San Rafael Stakes winner, who stands for just $2,000 at Rockin’ Z Ranch in Oklahoma. Notional, who shares his sire In Excess with Indian Charlie, spent the early part of his stud career standing at Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky for $7,500 and Far Right is by far the best of six stakes winners from his first three crops.

Far Right is the best of two winners out of Zindi, an unraced daughter of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Vindication. Although disappointing at stud, the short-lived Vindication is emerging as an useful broodmare sire, as befits the strong books of mares he received - aside from Far Right, he is also the damsire of G1 Malibu Stakes winner Shakin It Up.

Zindi is a half-sister to four minor winners - all successful over sprint distances - and out of a winning Shadeed half-sister to G2-winning sprinter Big Jag. Her third dam is champion older mare Cascapedia.


b c Line Of David - Sister Girl Blues (Hold For Gold)

Bred by Clearsky Farms

Firing Line has been a good advertisement for his young sire throughout his life.

He was the most expensive Line Of David foal to sell at the 2012 Keeneland November Sale when realising $65,000 to GMEN Racing and was the most expensive yearling by his sire in 2013 when commanding $150,000 from Bradley Thoroughbreds at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July Sale. That transaction also proved profitable as he was resold to Ben McElroy for $240,000 at last year’s Keeneland April Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale.

Now on the track, Firing Line continues to do Line Of David proud. He is from the 45-strong first crop of his sire, who won the 2010 G1 Arkansas Derby yet stands for just $3,500 at Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky. Line Of David is also the sire of this year’s California Derby winner Cross The Line as well as the stakes-placed Combat Diver, Dirt Monster, and Solomon, which surely makes him one of the best current value sires in Kentucky.

Sister Girl Blues never won in stakes company, but she was high-class on her day, as she proved when chasing home Azeri in the 2003 G1 Vanity Handicap. The best runner by the Red Ransom stallion Hold For Gold, she is the dam of another winner and a half-sister to G2 Dwyer Stakes winner Mint Lane. They descend from blue hen Kamar, ancestress of G1 winners Fantastic Light, Golden Attraction, and Gorgeous among others.


gr c Tapit - Fast Cookie (Deputy Minister)

Bred by Darley

Last year’s champion sire Tapit is already out on his own at the top of this year’s list thanks to 10 stakes winners and the earners of close to $6 million. Darley homebred Frosted became his 16th G1 winner with victory in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct and his fourth of the year following Constitution, Ring Weekend, and Untapable.

Tapit has yet to sire a top three finisher in the Kentucky Derby (from three runners) but the son of Pulpit - grandsire of last year’s winner California Chrome - was responsible for Normandy Invasion, who ran fourth in 2013, as well as last year’s dominant Kentucky Oaks heroine Untapable.

Bred on the same Tapit - Deputy Minister cross as Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Tapizar,  Frosted is a brother to triple winner Macaroon and out of the 2003 G2 Cotillion Handicap winner Fast Cookie. She joined the Darley broodmare band as part of the Stonerside Stable stock acquired in September 2008.

Incidentally, it was Fast Cookie’s half-brother Midshipman who provided the most immediate reward on that purchase when winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile just weeks later. Injury prevented him from receiving the chance to take his place in the Kentucky Derby. Perhaps Frosted will make amends.


b c Fusaichi Pegasus - Parlez (French Deputy)

Bred by Katharine M. Voss & Robert T. Manfuso

International Star was the most expensive yearling colt of 2013 by Fusaichi Pegasus, changing hands to Ken and Sarah Ramsey through EQB, as agent, for $85,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Fall Yearling Sale. So it is fitting that he has developed into the current track stand-out for the 2000 Kentucky Derby hero.

The son of Mr. Prospector entered stud in 2001 at a fee of $150,000 at Ashford Stud in Kentucky. He is advertised this season at $7,500 but has been a useful stallion over the years, supplying 48 stakes winners in the Northern Hemisphere, including G1 scorers such as Bandini and Roman Ruler.

International Star bids to become the third G1 winner for Fusaichi Pegasus out of a granddaughter of Deputy Minister following Roman Ruler (dam by Silver Deputy) and Champ Pegasus (dam by Salt Lake).

He is a half-brother to four winners, including the minor stakes-winning Not For Love siblings D C Dancer and Fools In Love, who were most effective over 6 furlongs and 7 furlongs. Parlez, International Star’s dam was a triple winner at up to 8.5 furlongs and is a granddaughter of Halory, dam of G1 winner and 1998 Kentucky Derby fourth Halory Hunter.


b c Lemon Drop Kid - Stormy B (Cherokee Run)

Bred by Brookfield Stud

Lemon Drop Kid progressed markedly with time, winning the 1999 G1 Belmont and Travers Stakes as a 3-year-old before being crowned the champion older horse of 2000 following victories in the G1 Whitney Handicap and G1 Woodward Stakes.

Plenty of his progeny have followed suit, including G1 winners Citronnade and Richard’s Kid, while he boasts a classic-winning daughter in Lemons Forever, winner of the 2006 Kentucky Oaks. All in all, that bodes well for the future prospects of Itsaknockout, who has packed in three winning starts, including the G2 Fountain Of Youth Stakes (on the disqualification of Upstart) since mid-December.

His dam, the winning Stormy B, is in the midst of a productive period since her first foal is Storm Power, who ran up a sequence of three minor stakes wins at Turf Paradise over 6.5 furlongs - 8 furlongs on both turf and dirt from October to December.

There is some stamina in the family since Stormy B is a half-sister to Rush Bay, a G2 winner on turf over 12 furlongs who also ran fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. It is also the further family of Kentucky Oaks heroine Believe You Can.


b c Curlin - Medomak (Awesome Again)

Bred by Glencrest Farm LLC

There is every reason to think Keen Ice will continue to progress as he stretches out in distance. He is from the third crop of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin, who ran third in the 2007 Kentucky Derby on just his fourth start en route to banking a record $10,501,800 in prize-money. One of the greatest runners of recent years, the son of Smart Strike won seven G1 races, among them the Preakness Stakes and two renewals of Jockey Club Gold Cup.

Curlin has three crops aged 3 and above running for him and, although capable of siring talented 2-year-olds, it’s become apparent that his progeny tend to improve markedly with time. His first crop was led by the 2013 Belmont Stakes and Metropolitan Handicap winner Palace Malice, while he is also responsible leading Kentucky Oaks hope Stellar Wind, the recent wide-margin winner of the G1 Santa Anita Oaks.

Inbred 3x3 to Deputy Minister, Keen Ice is the first foal out of an unplaced Awesome Again half-sister to G3 winner Coal Play, who also ran second to Big Brown in the 2008 G1 Haskell Invitational. She descends from the 1987 G1 Ashland Stakes heroine Chic Shirine and is therefore another high-class product from the famous Emory A. Hamilton family also responsible for G1 winners Verrazano, Brahms, and Serra Lake.


b c Afleet Alex - Wildwood Flower (Langfuhr)

Bred by John D Gunther

The winter consensus was that Afleet Alex’s classic representative would be Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Texas Red. However, with that colt sidelined, a strong substitute has emerged in the lightly-raced Materiality, who retained his unbeaten record in last month’s G1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park.

The pair hail from the sixth crop of Afleet Alex, conceived the year after his first 3-year-olds hit the track. That group contained G1 Travers Stakes winner Afleet Express, whose exploits likely prompted John Gunther to send his close relative, Piedmont Stakes winner Wildwood Flower, to Afleet Alex the following year.

Materiality commanded $400,000 from agent Steve Young at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Two-year-olds In Training Sale last May just weeks after his half-sister, My Miss Sophia, won the G2 Gazelle Stakes at Aqueduct. She later ran second in the Kentucky Oaks.

They are two of four winners out of Wildwood Flower, who is a half-sister to the G2 winner Eye Of The Tiger, who was also fifth in the 2003 Kentucky Derby, and the listed-placed Expanse, dam of Afleet Express.

Materiality bids to go two better than Afleet Alex, who ran third in the 2005 Kentucky Derby en route to victories in the Preakness and Belmont Stakes.


b c Malibu Moon - Stormy Bear (Storm Cat)

Bred by Richard D. Maynard

Mr. Z bids to become the second Kentucky Derby winner for Spendthrift Farm’s flagship stallion Malibu Moon following the 2013 hero Orb.

Inbred 4x4 to Mr. Prospector’s dam Gold Digger, Mr. Z is a half-brother to the listed-placed Ibn Al Nafis, a regularly successful campaigner at Jebel Ali in Dubai.

Although Ibn Al Nafis is best on dirt, this a family more noted for turf performers - his unraced dam is a sister to Breeders’ Cup Turf winner and multiple champion Chief Bearhart, G1 Hollywood Derby winner Explosive Red and the high-class British filly Sacred Song.


b c Dubawi - Pennegale (Pennekamp)

Bred by Dunmore Stud Ltd

Victory for Mubtaahij, the impressive winner of the U.A.E. Derby, would provide yet another major landmark for Dubawi, who continues to make an incredible impact worldwide for Darley.

Since his first crop ran in 2009, he has been represented by classic-winning milers, G1 winners in America, Australia and Hong Kong, and two Dubai World Cup winners in Monterosso and Prince Bishop. Little wonder that his fee has risen from £15,000 to £125,000 in the period from 2009 to 2015.

As Prince Bishop and Mubtaahij proved, Dubawi’s progeny had no problem coping with the newly installed dirt surfact at Meydan on World Cup night; after all, Dubawi is a son of Dubai Millennium, who was effective on dirt, and a grandson of Seeking The Gold.

The question now for Mubtaahij is whether he can translate that ability to Churchill Downs and show his true colours in what can be a rough race.

The immediate reaches of Mubtaahij’s pedigree are as about as European as it gets. He is a half-brother to the 2010 Prix de l’Opera heroine Lily Of The Valley as well as French listed winner Calbuco. His placed dam, by the disappointing Pennekamp, is a half-sister to listed winner Common Spirit and high-class steeplechaser In The High Grass.


b c Street Sense - Winner (Horse Chestnut)

Bred by Siena Farms LLC

Ocho Ocho Ocho belongs to one of the strongest families in the American Stud Book as a descendant of the unbeaten champion and Hall of Famer Personal Ensign.

Not only was Personal Ensign one of the greatest mares to ever grace the track, but she became an outstanding producer. Six of her 11 foals secured black-type, led by the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies heroine My Flag (herself dam of champion Storm Flag Flying) and fellow G1 winners Traditionally and Miner’s Mark. Her G1-placed son Our Emblem also did his bit by siring 2002 Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem.

Ocho Ocho Ocho, a half-brother the G2-placed Private Ensign and out of a 6 furlong winner, is one of 13 stakes-winning descendants of Personal Ensign. He bids to continue the strong year enjoyed by his sire, the 2007 Kentucky Derby hero Street Sense, who has been represented by eight stakes winners already in 2015, led by G1 Las Virgenes Stakes heroine Callback.


b c Malibu Moon - Rosy Humor (Distorted Humor)

Bred by WinStar Farm LLC

By Malibu Moon, sire of the 2013 Kentucky Derby winner Orb, Stanford descends from blue hen Monarchy via her influential granddaughter Narrate.

He is the first winner from three foals out of the unplaced Rosy Humor while his second dam, the placed Storm Cat mare Show Me The Roses, has bred just one winner from eight. However, she is a half-sister to European champion 2-year-old Johannesburg and closely related to influential sire Tale Of The Cat and his G1-winning brother Minardi.

Delve further back into the family and it is also responsible for Pulpit, the grandsire of last year’s Kentucky Derby hero California Chrome and sire of the 2010 runner-up Ice Box.


b c Warrior’s Reward - Still Secret (Hennessy)

Bred by Philip S. Birsh

Tencendur is one of five stakes horses from the first crop of Warrior’s Reward, who enjoyed his finest moment on the track when successful in the 2010 G1 Carter Handicap.

While Warrior’s Reward found his forte over 7 furlongs, he was also G2-placed over 9 furlongs at 3 and is a son of Medaglia d’Oro, who has had plenty of representatives excel over classic distances.

Tencendur was bred by Philip Birsh out of Still Secret, the 6 furlongs winner of her debut at Aqueduct in 2001. This is a particularly active family since Still Secret’s third foal, multiple New York restricted stakes winner Mother Russia, is dam of the highly regarded Japanese colt Golden Barows, a recent third in the UAE Derby.

It goes back to Stolen Hour, whose daughter Best In Show became a great influence as the ancestress of Rags To Riches, Jazil, Peeping Fawn, Xaar, and Spinning World among others.


b c Flatter - Party Silks (Touch Gold)

Bred by Mrs. Gerald A. Nielsen

Flatter never won a stakes race, which was reflected in his early fee of $5,000 at Claiborne Farm. However, in a manner similar to his brother Congrats, whose early success prompted a transfer from Florida to Kentucky, he has made the most of early opportunities to become a respected member of the Kentucky stallion ranks.

Currently, his record boasts 34 stakes winners, including stand-out performers such as Flat Out, Tar Heel Mom and Apart. As a result, he is standing for $20,000 in 2015.

Upstart is inbred 5x4 to Buckpasser and out of a mare by Belmont Stakes winner Touch Gold, influences which may help him last out over 10 furlongs.

His unraced dam is a half-sister to G2 winner Josh’s Madelyn and a granddaughter of multiple Llsted winner Intently, whose own sire Drone was the damsire of Kentucky Derby winners Grindstone and Charismatic.


ch g Northern Afleet - Belle Watling (Pulpit)

Bred by Jack Swain III

Northern Afleet has already tasted classic success through Afleet Alex, who ran third in the 2005 Kentucky Derby en route to victories in the Preakness and Belmont Stakes.

He is the highlight of a particularly versatile stud record for G2 winner Northern Afleet, who is also responsible for top-class sprinters Amazombie and Big City Man, champion Canadian juvenile Negligee and Teaks North, who excelled over 11 furlongs on turf to take the 2011 G1 United Nations Handicap.

Judging by his female family, it’s possible that War Story will improve for a further step up in trip. His half-brother, Draw Two, certainly did; a winner up 12 furlongs on turf, he ran fourth in the 2013 G1 Secretariat Stakes. They are the first two foals out of the placed Belle Watling, who shares her sire, Pulpit, with close relative Essence Of Dubai, winner of the 2002 G2 Super Derby.

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