Ky. Derby Trail: Mid-Week Melange

Because the Top 30 list took up a great deal of Monday’s column, we’ll go double duty this week and catch up on some updates and ramblings and look at the Risen Star Stakes.

On the pedigree front, are you tired of all the inbreeding in racing, especially through Mr. Prospector and Northern Dancer? Well there are a couple of prominent horses this year who are that rare outcross that you’d think would be attractive to breeders and infuse some fresh blood into the game.

Read the full column here


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Great read! The 'hopefuls' pedigree

piece, was both fascinating and enlightening. Thank you for the unique perspective.

Susie Wright

04 Feb 2009 8:20 PM
Abbie Knowles

Enjoyed your article as ever.  Lots of Seattle Slew's dynasty still on the trail and hope they remain on it!!!!

Writing about Midshipman (rather than talking about him) I see from the Brisnet Bloodstock Journal that he is from the family of an all time favourite stallion (and old friend) Salse, by Topsider.  Salse was a great friend to me when things went wrong in Newmarket and always cheered me up!  Horses (and any animals) are good at that and are very accepting; I am somewhat eccentric but they do not worry about that!!!

Am hoping for news of Midshipman soon! Very excited about Stardom Bound's and Friesan Fire's and I Want Revenge's races at the weekend.  Will be nervously awaiting the breaking news emails with the results of their races!!!!! Do so hope they all win!!!  And most importantly that they and all the horses and jockeys come back safe and sound!!!

God Bless

Best wishes


04 Feb 2009 8:52 PM

On the pedigree front Candy Ride looks like a sire with a great classic-winner producing future.  I've always been impressed with the Blushing Groom line and perhaps with offsprings of Invasor and Leroidesanimaux set to join the fray soon (all three hailing from South America: Argentine, Uraguay and Brazil)we could see the Mr Prospector-Northern Dancer Derby dynasty challenged seriously in a couple of years.  

Now although most of the Derby aspirants have Native Dancer genes it is really the ones with Mr Prospector/ Northern Dancer within the first three generations that are most potent from a pedigree standpoint, hence Square Eddie,  Breakwater Edison, Patena and Hello Broadway must be watched carefully. Others that have a Derby-winner-producing sire within the first three generations complemented by stamina/ classic influences are under the pedigree radar but highly Derby potent.  Big Drama and Pioneer Of The Nile fall into this category.  

Steve, you have highlighted I Want Revenge and one could add Friesan Fire as examples of those with exotic off-the continent tail-line families.  Interestingly both are from to AP Indy/Seattle Slew line which has proven to be over rated with respect to producing a derby winner.  Perhaps the exotic female family connection will improve their fortune.    

04 Feb 2009 8:53 PM
sid fernando

re: comment by ranagulzion

the common thread to the three south american stallions you mentioned is indeed candy stripes (by blushing groom), but whereas candy stripes is the sire of invasor and leroidesanimaux, he is the broodmare sire of candy ride -- who is actually a mr. prospector line horse through fappiano, cryptoclearance and ride the rails (his sire).

04 Feb 2009 9:45 PM
russell maiers

That is a very interesting piece Steve. Still sucking up everything as we come to our Derby picks. I really like Candy Ride's sons if I had to pick today. More gut feeling than facts. Candy Ride was really good, but of course the foot problems. I wish you would do a story on him as I have heard really wild things about CR like racing on a dirt road( down south). And so on.

04 Feb 2009 11:05 PM

Hi Steve, Just caught a look at your updated list and enjoyed your assessment of last weeks heats but can’t say I was impressed with any of the winners. The disappointments however were many that were expected to step forward. Shame we didn’t get to see Checklist without the problems, another try is in order. Agree that a couple of the young ones showed some promise – Mr. Fantasy, Warrior’s Reward and Eoin Harty’s Mr. Hot Stuff was a scary good surprise – look forward to following their progression, as you’ve rightly pointed out they all have the right blood. Although unless one shows some ability to rate a Mr. Fantasy - Old Fasioned early end hook-up could prove most interesting.

Just a few comments on your Derby list (excluding Dubai horses):

Old Fashioned to me still looks the best to this point, if he can rate, Jones looks to be sitting in a great position especially since there aren’t many behind him stepping up. At this stage it seems we have a bunch of gray area possibilities out of the recent preps. Of the ones you’ve listed behind, I’m really looking forward to seeing Pioneerof the Nile this weekend. It seems you kind of have a question mark on him due to the California factor but keep in mind that Mott had this lad training at Saratoga on the dirt last year and liked his ability and potential as much as Baffert does now – he’s for real. Also, Theregoesjojo, Poltergeist, and Shafted – definitely huge upside.

Watch Outs:

Imperial Council – Shug’s got a nice one but is running out of time, he’d better come out strong.  Then again, considering the connections, they really haven’t shown a predilection for the Derby trail anyway.

Giant Oak – Liked him for a while he may still needed maturity. Still don’t believe you put him that high on your list but he has all the ear markings of a developing Causeway runner.

Imagine we’ll see this Saturday when he takes on Friesan Fire and company.

Bear’s Prospector – Baker has a real big live under the radar here

Flat Out – Looks very green and very talented

Dunkirk – Developing Pletcher with no hype, might just be his big horse

Hold Me Back – Highly regarded late Mott entrant in the mix

It’s still a bit early for this speculation but thanks for the updates.

05 Feb 2009 6:28 AM
Abbie Knowles

Great news that Midshipman, Vineyard Haven and all the Godolphin hopefuls are doing fine and in great shape thus far!  Long may that continue.  Wise words as ever from Simon Crisford!

All at Godolphin love their horses and know a lot about horses. Endurance riding which Sheikh Mohammed excels at is more diffiult than riding in a race and remember Princess Haya was an Olympic class Show Jumper!  They are true horsemen and women out in Dubai!  By the way i am not saying that there are not true horsemen and women in America too.  

Really enjoyed reading that article about the Godolphin horses this morning!

Thanks very much!

God Bless

Best wishes


05 Feb 2009 7:29 AM

Steve read your comments on the track times at Gulfstream. What's the deal did they cut into it more? It sure is playing like it's deeper.

05 Feb 2009 12:04 PM

Mr. Haskin I have a question for you and would like to hear your insight into it.

Given Bob Baffert's history of distain for running his youngsters over artificial surfaces in the past,(I believe he shipped some of his younger stock east to avoid running on it and openly criticized it) how do you see that playing out with Pioneer Of The Nile? Baffert's intentions to keep him in California through the Santa Anita Derby and up to the Ky. Derby are a bit puzzling in those regards. Your thoughts please?

05 Feb 2009 12:21 PM
Joe McCrea


 Oh, my goodness, in your column you had Affirmed by Alydar. And you with such breeding knowledge that you bring to life.


05 Feb 2009 12:25 PM

As I have stated before it is hard to get excited about this years 3 year old crop. It may be a little a little early to say that but nothing stands out in my mind. With Midshipman and Vinyard Haven over in Dubai the quality of the American Derby horses has seriously diminished. Pioneer of the Nile looks like a possibility but we will have to wait and see.

I watched your video with Lenny Shulman and I could not agree more about Frank Stronach winning owner of the year. This is such a ridiculous travesty in our great sport. What a message it has sent to all of the other owners who were much more deserving. No wonder horse racing is in trouble.

Right, wrong, or indifferent IEAH Stables were the ones who deserved the award. I am not fond of Iavaroni or Dutrow but they deserved to win the award. I have no issues with Curlin winning but I gave the nod to Zenyatta. She beat the best fillies and mares in the country where Curlin faced average competition most of the time. If Azeri wins HOY honors for her performances then Zenyatta was better in my mind.

Finally all synthetic surfaces need to go back to good old fashioned dirt. Synthetic surfaces "aint working".........nuff said.

05 Feb 2009 12:50 PM

This is slightly off-topic, but does anyone know what happened to Cribnote?

05 Feb 2009 1:00 PM
Steve Haskin

Wanda, it sure looks they've cut into it. It's been slow the past few years. It's about the same as last year. What I don't like is that it is favoring speed big-time, and the inside. I'd like to see a more fair track. Stone closers are going nowhere.

Wiz, maybe Baffert has decided to drink the Kool-Aid as they say :). When the horses run well on artificial tracks the trainers love it. When they don't they hate it. It's the nature of the beast.

05 Feb 2009 3:26 PM
Steve Haskin

Joe, I talk about a half sister to Affirmed, by Alydar. The half-sister is by Alydar, not Affirmed. That is the proper way to word that. I can assure you I have never once thought Affirmed was by Alydar.

05 Feb 2009 3:29 PM
Steve Haskin

Deacon, early February is indeed too early to start knocking the crop. I agree there hasn't been any budding super horses, but these are mostly babies just beginning to mature. Big Brown didnt make his first until a month from now. Let's give these horses the benefit of the doubt until they prove they're not that good. Maybe Midshipman or Vineyard Haven will come back and kick butt.

05 Feb 2009 3:34 PM


Let's hope this years crop of 3 yr olds turns out to be better than last years. Remember that at this time last year everyone was high on War Pass and Pyro and Big Brown was only a maiden winner with one  race(a 90 beyer/nothing to get excited about) under his belt. That group that showed up for the Derby last year was the weakest bunch overall that I remember in years and maybe in history. I hope history doesn't repeat itself so soon.

With Square Eddie's shins acting up we may not see one of the more promising colts make it to KY and if he does he may not be in peak form. Let's hope the injuries are kept to a minimum and the best make it there. I agree with you that nobody training on american soil has so far stood out. Maybe that will change after this weekend but it is still awful early to give up on them all.

05 Feb 2009 3:48 PM

Mr. Hot Stuff/Colonel John seems rather ironic in the year of Nicanor/Barbaro.  One is improbably enough, much less two. .

05 Feb 2009 3:58 PM

Watching Dream Empress in the paddock and then race in the Alcibides in person was wonderful. I really like this horse.

05 Feb 2009 4:35 PM

It may be premature to give up on this years crop of babies but the way horses are bred and trained I get a bad feeling. This is barely Feb. and how many of our 3 year old crop is down or going down. With respect Steve, I really want this sport fixed. I have been a loyal true blue fan for over 50 years. I have seen many of the great ones. What we have today are basically "one hit wonders". I doubt if we will ever see a triple crown winner again. Big Brown was amazing last year accomplishing what he did. BB was never a truly sound horse, he just had raw ability.

I will be patient and take a wait and see attitude.

05 Feb 2009 5:37 PM
Steve Haskin

Deacon, I agree. I always have a bad feeling based on past experience. Racing is a quick fix sport. You better enjoy the good horses when you can, because theyre not going to stay around. Although I have that bad feeling I still wont give up on a crop this early. The Lewis field is very strong, but it still wont answer any major questions because it's all synthetic horses.

05 Feb 2009 6:44 PM

Infusion of strong South American blood into the TB... I'm all for that!  Bring it on.

For someone who actively decries synthetic surfaces, Baffert sure wins a lot over it.  And speaking of Baffert (nice segway, don't you think?), does anyone know what ever became of Cry and Catch Me?... she vanished after being scratched from BC 2007.  It is pouring rain here in So. Cal, so let's see how that affects the lovely Pro-Ride surface for this weekends big events.  Although I am rooting for Old Fashioned and Jones in the Derby, who knows maybe it will be another 1-2 rivalry situation with Pioneerof the Nile and I Want Revenge, who have both been showing blistering works, just like it turned out to be in BC Classic with the European rivals.

05 Feb 2009 7:16 PM
Abbie Knowles

Dream Empress is the filly that Kenny McPeek hopes to run at Epsom. The one whose name i had forgotten.  Honestly my memory!!!The Racing Post website confirmed that along with fellow bloggers on another site.  Hope she makes it and will cheer her on.  Epsom is a unique course so am very glad she can be trained at Mr McPeek's home over rolling hills and undulations!  She will need to be used to that! One thing Epsom is not is flat and the camber in the home straight can be a nightmare for any horse!

Good luck to her and her sporting connections!  It would be good to see more US horses race in the UK but of course, on the whole, our prize money is not great even if the prestige of the top races is!!!!!

Am not writing this crop of 3-Y-O's off by any means.  They still excite me!  Hope Colonel John and Mr Hot Stuff do turn out to be truly great. Improbable things can happen in horse racing that is part of what makes it such a great sport!!

God Bless

Best wishes


05 Feb 2009 10:39 PM

Steve, regarding your esteemed derby dozen it appears that with the ommission of about five 3YOs that have already shown star quality (Big Drama, Vineyard Haven, Midshipman, Notonthesamepage, Jose Adan and Breakwater Edison) that the speculation component is higher than normal.  Anyway it is still early days yet.  

06 Feb 2009 2:15 PM
Joe Dunaway

What ever happened to Street Hero who ran third in the Breeders Cup.

06 Feb 2009 8:09 PM

Joe, Street Hero was retire, i don't know why, but he's retired. If anyone here knows why he retired, can they please shed some light on it?

07 Feb 2009 6:28 AM

The pedigree I like the most, speaking strictly from a working dog breeder perspective, is "Chocolate Candy". His tail-female line gets stronger and stronger the further you go back...usually the "chink in the armor" of a pedigree is found in the female line...someone breeds "up" a lesser quality female...there is none of that in his bottom female line...

Of course this comes from someone who always prefers structure, soundness and longevity in working over brilliance..

I also love his "look", I would love to see him in person, you guys have such great jobs to get to see the horses.

07 Feb 2009 9:49 AM

Until Godolphin give up this ludicrous notion of taking their best 2 year olds to Dubai as a conditioning route for Louisville then we need to concentrate on what is clearly obvious in the USA.  Baffert is certainly doing what he does best with Pioneer of the Nile.  Even by his standards the works posted by this colt look to be significant.  I was high on him when he was in the Mott barn and on the basis of what's happened since then I'm not dropping my view and he will be my KY Derby pick unless something very much out of the ordinary occurs.

He's got the pedigree to run all the way to the Belmont but I have to admit I'm an Empire Maker groupie.  Quite unusually there is a plethora of prospective Derby horses with pedigrees that shout out distance and it we could see a European type crop with a dearth of top class speed horses.

As an added referral to Empire Maker, keep a filly called Acronym on the right side.  She could be very good for Frankel & Juddmonte.

07 Feb 2009 2:44 PM
Abbie Knowles

Wow!  What a day!  Wins for Stardom Bound, Freisan Fire, War Echo and Pioneer of the Nile (he traces back to several favourites in El Gran Senor, General(FR) and the immortal Brigadier Gerard!!!!  And i do love Empire Maker even if he did beat Funny!) mean I am a very happy person!!!!

Am full of hope that they will all stay sound and that one of them, or another of the Seattle Slew dynasty will win the Kentucky Derby and that big race victories will come the way of all of them!

Hope you had a good weekend

God Bless

Best wishes


07 Feb 2009 8:30 PM

Friesan Fire!

07 Feb 2009 8:54 PM

Vineyard Haven still looks the best and if you think about the horse growing and improving he is way ahead of the rest.  Vineyard wins the Derby unless something comes from the clouds in the next 30 days.

09 Feb 2009 2:13 PM

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