Each day of Kentucky Derby week, we’ll take a look at the pedigrees of some Derby contenders and how those pedigrees might factor into their ability to succeed at 1 1/4 miles.
Honor Code x Fools In Love, by Not For Love
Honor Code has strong credentials around two turns, winning the 1 1/8-mile Grade 2 Remsen Stakes at age two, then earning champion older male honors at age four with a campaign including a score in the G1 Whitney Stakes, also at 1 1/2 miles. Honor Code’s championship season also included wins at 1 mile in the G1 Metropolitan Handicap and G1 Gulfstream Park Handicap. He is a son of A.P. Indy, who is one of the modern breed’s bedrocks for distance runners.
Honor Code’s runners post an average winning distance of 7.29 furlongs, which is a strong number for a sire with his first crop of 3-year-olds. He’ll have two colts pointing toward this year’s Kentucky Derby, with Honor A. P. having won the G1 Santa Anita Derby at 1 1/8 miles and Max Player winning the G3 Withers Stakes at the same distance. Max Player is also placed at the Derby distance, having run third in the G1 Travers Stakes in August.
Fools in Love was a stakes-level horse on the East Coast for most of her racing career, but her lone win in stakes competition came in the 7 furlong Orleans Stakes at Delta Downs. A versatile runner, Fools in Love won at distances ranging from 5 furlongs to 1 1/16 miles.
Her resume continued to be strong when she transitioned from the racetrack to the foaling barn, consistently producing black type runners. She is the dam of the Scat Daddy colt Seahenge, a British Group 2 winner at 7 furlongs who now stands at stud in France and Argentina.
Other runners of note out of Fools in Love include Urban Bourbon, a City Zip gelding who is Grade 3-placed at 7 1/2 furlongs over the turf and was a multiple winner at 1 1/16 miles on the same surface. Frank’s Folly, by Mineshaft, is stakes-placed and a multiple winner at 1 1/16 miles, while the Exchange Rate gelding Exchequer was a multi-surface claiming winner beyond a mile.
Tapit x Justwhistledixie, by Dixie Union
Tapit won the G3 Laurel Futurity as a juvenile going 1 1/16 miles, then came back at three to take the G1 Wood Memorial Stakes at 1 1/8 miles before running in the 2004 Kentucky Derby.
After he retired to stud, Tapit ascended to become perennial leader on the North American sire lists, both in on-track earnings and auction returns. He has sired three Belmont Stakes winners – Tonalist, Creator, and Tapwrit – while classic-placed Frosted became a prominent figure in the handicap division. His average progeny winning distance of 7.65 furlongs is among the leaders for this year’s class of Derby sires.
Justwhistledixie has been a versatile star, both on the racetrack and in her broodmare career. She won the G2 Bonnie Miss Stakes over 1 1/8 miles on the main track at Gulfstream Park, preceded by a one-mile score in the G2 Davona Dale Stakes at the same track. She was also a non-graded stakes winner at 6 and 7 furlongs.
Enforceable would be Justwhistledixie’s second Derby starter, following in the footsteps of his full-brother Mohaymen. After bringing $2.2 million as a yearling, Mohaymen won his first five starts: a 6 furlong maiden special weight at Belmont Park; the G2 Nashua Stakes (one mile); the G2 Remsen Stakes (1 1/8 miles); the G2 Holy Bull Stakes (1 1/16 miles); and the G2 Fountain of Youth Stakes (1 1/16 miles). He went on to finish fourth in the Kentucky Derby, and now stands at Shadwell Farm in Kentucky.
The Tapit/Justwhistledixie cross has also produced Kingly, who won the G3 La Jolla Handicap over 1 1/16 miles on the turf, and the non-graded California Derby at the same distance over the synthetic Tapeta Footings surface of Golden Gate Fields.
However, the biggest winner to date out of Justwhistledixie is New Year’s Day, a son of Street Cry who took the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at 1 1/16 miles and went on to sire champion 3-year-old Maximum Security.
Ghostzapper x Bobby’s Babe, by Smart Strike
Ghostzapper was a force of nature on the racetrack, earning a diverse catalog of wins at the highest level, from the G1 Vosburgh Stakes at 6 ½ furlongs to the 1 1/4-mile Breeders’ Cup Classic. Between those two extremes, he won at 1 1/16 miles in the G1 Woodward Stakes and G3 Philip H. Iselin Breeders’ Cup Handicap, at 1 mile in the Metropolitan Handicap, and at 7 furlongs in the G2 Tom Fool Handicap.
He’s proven able to get high-caliber runners at either the sprint or route distance at stud, with his two-turn stars including Shaman Ghost, who is a Grade 1 winner at 1 1/4 miles, and Moreno, who won the G1 Whitney Handicap at 1 1/8 miles and ran second in the G1 Travers Stakes at the classic distance. On the shorter side of the equation, he has sired champion female sprinter Judy the Beauty; Paulassilverlining, who was a finalist in the same category. Guarana, a finalist for champion 3-year-old filly last year, is a Grade 1 winner at both 1 1/8 miles and 7 furlongs, with another one in between at a mile.
Ghostzapper’s Kentucky Derby runners include Stately Victor, who won the G1 Blue Grass Stakes at 1 1/8 miles before running eighth in the 2010 Derby; and McCraken, who also ran eighth in 2017 and was a three-time graded stakes winner at 1 1/16 miles.
Bobby’s Babe broke her maiden on debut at age three, going 6 furlongs over the Polytrack at Turfway Park. She never won again in her 11 career starts, but she finished second by a nose in a one-mile turf race at Kentucky Downs.
She has four earners of six figures under her produce record, led by May Lily, a turf sprint specialist by Broken Vow who won the Kentucky Downs Preview Ladies Sprint Stakes at 5 ½ furlongs. Zapperini, a full-brother to Major Fed, took it in the opposite direction, finishing second in last year’s G3 John B. Connally Turf Cup Stakes going 1 1/2 miles. Clairenation, by Bernstein, went on a four-race winning streak of turf sprints between five and 5 1/2 furlongs.
Mr. Big News
Giant’s Causeway x Unappeased, by Galileo
Giant’s Causeway was one of the greatest runners of his generation on a global scale, earning Europe’s Horse of the Year honors in 2000.
He was a Group 1 turf winner at distances ranging from 7 furlongs to 1 1/4 miles, racking up victories in the French G1 Prix de la Salamandre at seven panels, the English G1 St. James’s Palace Stakes and Sussex Stakes at 1 mile, and the G1 Coral-Eclipse Stakes and Irish Champion Stakes at 1 1/4 miles. Giant’s Causeway stretched out even further to win the G1 Juddmonte International Stakes at 10 furlongs and 56 yards.
In his final start, Giant’s Causeway showed elite class and distance ability on the dirt, finishing second by a neck to Tiznow in the 1 1/4-mile Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs.
Giant’s Causeway was North America’s leading sire in 2009, 2011, and 2012, with a broad cross-section of successful runners across distance, surface, and international borders. One of the few boxes left to check on his stallion resume is siring a U.S. classic winner, but he’s gotten classic winners elsewhere with Footstepsinthesand in the English 2,000 Guineas, Shamardal in the French 2,000 Guineas, and Mike Fox Canada’s Queen’s Plate.
Giant’s Causeway has sent eight runners to post in the Kentucky Derby, with his best finish being a fifth by Creative Cause in 2012. Other Giant’s Causeway runners to start in the Derby include Destin (6th, 2016); Brody’s Cause (7th, 2016); Carpe Diem (10th, 2015); Santiva (6th, 2011); Hold Me Back (12th, 2009); Cowboy Cal (9th, 2008); and Noble Causeway (14th, 2005).
Unappeased, by another all-world sire in Galileo, went winless in six career starts Japan. Her best performance was a runner-up effort going about 7 furlongs over a sloppy main track.
The mare comes from a strong extended family that includes Canadian Horse of the Year Glorious Song, U.S. champion juvenile Devil’s Bag, and top global runner Sligo Bay.
Unappeased is the dam of two other runners including Lalibela, a full-sister to Mr. Big News who won on debut in a Gulfstream Park maiden special weight, going a mile and an eighth on the turf. Untouch, by Speightstown, raced just once, finishing out of the money in a Belmont Park maiden special weight at 1 1/16 miles on the grass.
Read more: paulickreport.com