Kentucky Derby Kaleidoscope With a Touch of 'Red'

When we address the subject of dominant sires in racing today the name that is mentioned the most is Tapit, followed by a wide variety of stallions who shine on a sporadic basis, such as the most recent star, the now deceased Scat Daddy.

Looking beyond the sires are the dominant influences, headed by Mr. Prospector, Northern Dancer, Fappiano, Storm Cat, and A.P. Indy. These are the names we see in most pedigrees.

But there is a sire we tend to overlook as a dominant influence, but who produced two daughters that are responsible for the majority of today’s top stars.

To demonstrate that dominance, of the 20 starters in this year’s Kentucky Derby, 17 of them have Secretariat in their pedigree, the vast majority through Big Red’s daughters Terlingua, the dam of Storm Cat; and Weekend Surprise, the dam of A.P. Indy. The other daughter of Secretariat we see quite often is Secrettame, the daughter of top sire Gone West, who is the sire of leading stallion Speightstown, whose broodmare sire is Storm Cat. Also, the aforementioned Tapit’s paternal grandsire is A.P. Indy.

Breaking down Secretariat’s influence on this year’s Derby, 13 starters have Terlingua in their pedigree through her son Storm Cat, seven have Weekend Surprise through her son A.P. Indy, three have Secrettame through her son Gone West, one has Sister Dot through her son Dehere, and one has Take Heart, the third dam of Lone Sailor’s sire Majestic Warrior.

To add to Secretariat’s influence over the weekend, the first four finishers of the Kentucky Oaks have Big Red in their pedigree. The winner Monomoy Girl has Weekend Surprise on top and Terlingua on bottom; runner-up Wonder Gadot has Secrettame; third-place finisher Midnight Bisou has Sister Dot on top and Medaille d‘Or on bottom; and fourth-place finisher Eskimo Kisses has Weekend Surprise on top and Secrettame on bottom. In short, Secretariat is everywhere in today’s bloodlines.

One of the Derby starters who will go on to the Preakness is Louisiana Derby runner-up Lone Sailor, who has Secretariat in his pedigree an amazing four times.


On another stallion front, Damascus, who was once thought of as the savior of the Teddy line and who was the horse who inspired my love of racing, went many years without having any influence on the Kentucky Derby. Then came Big Brown followed by Orb and Damascus had finally made his mark on the Run for the Roses.

This year, Damascus broke out, with his name in the pedigrees of seven of the Kentucky Derby starters, including the winner Justify through his son Ogygian on top and third-place finisher Audible through his son Timeless Moment and Timeless Moment’s son Gilded Time, who is Audible’s broodmare sire.


You have to admire WinStar Farm and China Horse Club for running a top-class horse against Justify in the Preakness, considering how many people feel Justify has a great chance to be the next Triple Crown winner. With Quip, who is trained by Rodolphe Brisset, withdrawn from the Kentucky Derby to await the Preakness, WinStar could easily have changed paths and possibly gone for Saturday’s Peter Pan Stakes instead. But they obviously feel Justify can beat anyone or they just believe Quip deserves his chance in a classic race.

WinStar president, CEO, and racing manager Elliott Walden said on “At the Races with Steve Byk,” they felt it wasn’t right to manipulate the Triple Crown, and if Quip defeats Justify, then there was a good chance Justify would not have won the Belmont Stakes anyway.

The decision makes one think of the 1931 Triple Crown when Greentree Stable’s Twenty Grand rallied from 10th to win the Kentucky Derby by four widening lengths. In the Preakness, Greentree decided to run a longshot named Surf Board as an entrymate with Twenty Grand.  The race drew only seven entries, and as the chart footnotes read: “Twenty Grand went up inside and was blocked by his stablemate Surf Board at the head of the stretch, and, responding gamely under punishment, was wearing down the winner (appropriately named Mate).” Then in the Belmont Stakes, Twenty Grand won by 10 lengths over only two opponents. So, that was one case where running an entrymate in the Preakness cost a horse the Triple Crown. And it is interesting to note that Justify and Quip have the exact same running style. So, that shows the confidence WinStar and China Horse Club have in Justify, deciding not to make it easier for him by not running a horse they feel belongs in the race and has earned his way in.


There has been a great deal of talk regarding Justify’s minor foot bruise, which he already seems to have gotten over. Well, let’s not forget that Sunday Silence developed a foot bruise after winning the Kentucky Derby over a muddy track. Only this bruise was bad enough to bring noted veterinarian Alex Harthill up from Kentucky to treat the horse, which he did behind closed stall doors. It reached a point where Sunday Silence had to work and work well at Pimlico in order to run in the Preakness. With all eyes watching intently, the colt turned in a brilliant work and, as everyone knows, went on to out-duel Easy Goer in one of the greatest stretch battles of all time.


Bolt d’Oro and his sire Medaglia d’Oro, although considered bluebloods, were both raised in Montana, about 220 miles apart – Bolt d’Oro in Bigfork, population 4,270, and Medaglia ‘Oro in Great Falls, whose previous visitors included Lewis and Clark and Jim Bridger. After being broken, Medaglia d’Oro was sent to a small ranch in Arizona, located pretty much in the middle of nowhere, between Cave Creek and Carefree. There was’t even a rail, so Medaglia d’Oro was ridden through the desert every day, out with the cacti and sagebrush. Yes, Derby horses and Derby sires can come from anywhere.


Returning to the sires represented in this year’s Derby, Scat Daddy had four horses in the field (Justify, Mendelssohn, Flameaway, and Combatant), Medaglia d’Oro had two (Bolt d’Oro and Enticed), and Into Mischief had one (Audible). Of course, Justify and Audible finished first and third. Well, Medaglia d’Oro, Scat Daddy’s sire Johannesburg, and Into Mischief’s sire Harlan’s Holiday all competed in the 2002 Kentucky Derby, won by War Emblem. So that one Derby certainly had a major effect on another 16 years later.

Also, Scat Daddy and Curlin, the sires of the first two finishers, Justify and Good Magic, both ran against each other in the 2007 Kentucky Derby.


Speaking of Scat Daddy, the day he won the Florida Derby, owner Jim Scatuorchio and trainer Todd Pletcher watched the race together on a computer in their hotel lobby at about 2 a.m. in Dubai, having seen their English Channel finish 12th in the Dubai Duty Free hours earlier. As Scat Daddy was rallying down the stretch, the computer froze, and they had to wait to confirm that he had won.


As most people know by now, Justify’s opening fractions of :22 1/5 and :45 3/5 were the fastest ever run by the winning horse.   


Finally, if Good Magic runs, this year’s Preakness will have four starters who are sired by Breeders’ Cup Classic winners – Good Magic and Tenfold (Curlin) Sporting Chance (Tiznow), and Bravazo (Awesome Again). The last two are trained by Wayne Lukas. If you’re looking for history to repeat itself, Lukas’ last Preakness victory was in 2013 with 15-1 shot Oxbow, who is by Awesome Again, out of a Cee’s Tizzy mare and owned by Calumet Farm. Bravazo is by Awesome Again, out of a Cee’s Tizzy mare, and owned by Calumet Farm. Both horses used the Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds as one of their Kentucky Derby preps.

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