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Derby Threat: Astrology

by Ian Tapp

When the Kentucky Derby is on your mind, how could you not be fascinated by an A.P. Indy (TrueNicks,SRO) colt with the flashy name of Astrology? Winner of the one-mile Iroquois Stakes (gr. III, video) at Churchill Downs back in October, Astrology has an intriguing story.

First mention must go to Astrology's illustrious ninth dam, Plucky Liege. In the 1920s and '30s, this blue hen produced four champion sires in Sir Gallahad III, Bull Dog, Admiral Drake, and Bois Roussel, and her female line continues to Fappiano and his son Quiet American (TrueNicks,SRO), who appears as Astrology's broodmare sire. Despite this legendary line, grade I production is sparse in Astrology's immediate family. You have to look under the fifth dam, Animosity (by 1952 Epsom Derby winner and English Horse of the Year Tulyar), to find 1984 Spinaway Stakes (gr. I) winner Tiltalating.

Flash forward to the 1998 Fasig-Tipton Calder sale, where Bill and Heather Heiligbrodt bought the two-year-old Quiet American–June Gift filly for $185,000. Named Quiet Eclipse, the filly would win just once in 13 starts (a 5.5-furlong maiden at Fair Grounds), but the real magic was waiting in the breeding shed. First mated to Successful Appeal (TrueNicks,SRO) and then twice to Yes It's True (TrueNicks,SRO), Quiet Eclipse produced three stakes winners from her first three foals, including dual grade III-winning juvenile Lunarpal (TrueNicks).

In September of 2006, Lunarlady became her dam's third consecutive stakes winner when taking the Prairie Meadows Debutante. Just two weeks earlier, eventual three-year-old champion Bernardini (TrueNicks,SRO) had dominated the Travers Stakes (gr. I, video) by seven lengths, and as a son of A.P. Indy and the grade I-winning Quiet American mare Cara Rafaela (also a game second to My Flag in the 1995 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I, video), Bernardini undoubtedly inspired the mating that would take place five months later. A Quiet American mare with three stakes winners in as many foals, Quiet Eclipse was rightfully sent to A.P. Indy in 2007.

Jess Jackson's Stonestreet Stables purchased Quiet Eclipse in foal to A.P. Indy for $1.6 million at the 2007 Keeneland November sale. The following March, she foaled the colt that would be named Astrology, but the mare sadly died soon thereafter. Stonestreet offered Astrology as yearling at Keeneland September 2009, but there were no takers at $285,000, and Stonestreet retained the colt.

Sent to trainer Steve Asmussen, Astrology broke his maiden at Saratoga going seven furlongs and has subsequently won or placed in three stakes. Already a grade III winner, Astrology placed second to Santiva (by Giant's Causeway (TrueNicks,SRO)) in November's Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II), the race that produced last year's Derby winner, Super Saver (TrueNicks,SRO).

Despite only eight starters by A.P. Indy out of Quiet American mares, there are three graded stakes winners on the cross in Bernardini, A. P. Warrior, and Astrology. Another colt, American Dance, placed third in the Remsen Stakes (gr. II). TrueNicks rated A++, the cross has a strong average winning distance of 8.35 furlongs, confirming the distance preference of the cross.

But not so fast... While Astrology's pedigree appears suitable for the 10-furlong Kentucky Derby at first glance, consider that all three of his stakes-winning half siblings won their stakes at age two, and all stakes wins were at six furlongs or shorter. Granted, Successful Appeal and Yes It's True are more precocious and speed-oriented sires than A.P. Indy, but the true depth of Astrology's stamina is still unknown.

As mentioned above, Quiet Eclipse won her only race at 5.5 furlongs. Her dam, June Gift, broke her maiden at Hialeah going three furlongs (really, three furlongs!), though she went on to win a Calder allowance going a mile. Third dam Lady Ridanilustros won four races, but none beyond 6.5 furlongs. Adding the stamina influence of 1992 Belmont Stakes and Breeders' Cup Classic champ A.P. Indy, Astrology is a graded winner at a mile and grade II-placed at 8.5 furlongs, but there are legitimate questions about him staying much farther at the grade I level.

Click here to view the TrueNicks Enhanced report for Astrology.

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20 Comments:

When it comes to the Triple Crown, I want to see a horse loaded with stamina, with more than 2 Derby preps.  Because of light training schedules, we've had a 33 year drought.  My best bets are colts by AP Indy and Bernardini.  The stamina is there, the class is there, and the speed is there.  I miss the 70's.  How can you pick a "stand-out" if they don't race often enough to establish that lead?

Slew 06 Jan 2011 8:58 AM

He is full of La Troienne.

fernando 06 Jan 2011 11:02 AM

Having Hold Your Peace as his 2nd dam sire does not add the additional stamina he will need to get the Derby distance, much less the Belmont distance.  He might eventually win at 1 1/8 miles, but I don't see him winning at 1 1/4 miles.

Robert 06 Jan 2011 12:45 PM

Love the horse - NOT THE OWNER

Lynnhurst 06 Jan 2011 2:42 PM

If the foremost thing one can mention about a colt's pedigree is his NINTH dam then it's obvious the horse in question has a very soft family.

KentuckyFan 06 Jan 2011 3:57 PM

KentuckyFan,

It is a soft immediate family, especially for an A.P. Indy, but I think it's noteworthy that the dam is line bred to Plucky Liege on tail female, Quiet American, and Fappiano.

Unquestionably, Quiet Eclipse was a top producer (5 winners, 4 SW, 2 GSW, from 6 foals).

My feeling is Astrology is high quality, but will top out at 8.5f or so. We'll see.

Ian

Ian Tapp 06 Jan 2011 4:20 PM

"Soft immediate family ''...well, I don't agree that the immediate family is the "whole enchalada" of any pedigree on any horse. This colt has a real mcCoy pedigree , stamina, class, hardiness and longevity. He is my pick for the Derby & I do believe that ASTROLOGY can go the distance. He has a very good trainer and this is also important.The generations of the past do crop up and will prove out. The pedigree on ASTROLOGY is nothing short of amazing & I believe in this fine colt, that he'll go the distance when the time comes.

Best of racing luck to he and all of his connections.

Sunny Farm 06 Jan 2011 5:21 PM

with all that pedigree how can you go wrong

anthony gismonde 07 Jan 2011 8:50 AM

Let's see now. Hold Your Peace, by 9f SW, stoutly-bred (Prince John out of old-style French damside) Speak John from a mare SP at 8.5f by Travers/Suburban/etc. winner Eight Thirty. Hold Your Peace won the 9f Flamingo and was 3rd in the Kentucky Derby (to Riva Ridge). I remember him as a smallish, tough son-of-a-gun who liked off tracks; he ran 39 times, with 11 wins and 12 seconds. He sired Hold Your Tricks (Cornhusker H, 9f), Silent Cal (Roamer H, 9.5f), Pax in Bello (Remsen H, 9f), Pax Nobiscum (Ohio Derby, 9f), Mitterand (La Canada S, 9f), Withholding (Clark H, 9f) and Success Express (BC Juvie, 8.5f, and sire of a 12f Oaks winner in NZ). He was damsire of Grapeshot (Predominate S-GB, 10f), and Peace Rules (Suburban H, 10f, 2nd Travers, close 3rd Kentucky Derby).

Hold Your Peace in a pedigree is not going to kill distance ability. You may be confusing him with his huge son Meadowlake, who is physically more like his mum's sire, Raise a Native than Hold Your Peace and is a serious speed influence. It does happen that way sometimes.

Pedigree Ann 07 Jan 2011 11:01 AM

I hope this horse wins the Derby so that AP Indy completes the progeny Triple Crown.

DanC 02 Feb 2011 2:29 PM

Astrology has not posted an official work since 11/23. Worrying.

Ian Tapp 04 Feb 2011 10:05 AM

Don't all the times he goes back to Princequillo and Roundtable account for something to contribute to the colt's stamina?  Being by A.P. Indy sure can't hurt either.

Regarding the fact that he has not been even worked since November, they may be letting him grow into  himself, but if they don't post a work by him by about mid-March at the earliest, he will not have the preparation he needs for the Derby unless he is conditioning at a private track and works are just not being posted.

Early Speed 05 Feb 2011 8:21 AM

Astrology had his first published work this morning and is being pointed to the San Felipe.Scott Blasi and Steve Asmussan say he has had a long series of two minute licks the last month as well.He needs to step up Beyer wise to be in the mix this Spring.

SF know 05 Feb 2011 1:23 PM

if  astrology do not run out of his skin next time out players will confuse him with a lead pony.

cuban chef de race 08 Feb 2011 7:37 PM

I'm not going to pretend I know alot about pedgrees, but Astrology having Seattle Slew, Secretariat, and AP Indy in his pedigree, doesn't that account for something??  I think he can get the distance.

Kristen Ohler 08 Feb 2011 9:41 PM

the problem with pedigree is found when the horse who has it do not even know it,second quite American did all ready sire derby winner r.quite i do not think he is going to be a derby winner broodmare sire pay attention to last 45 to 50 years.you don't have to be a speed guru to see this horse too slow even to win an allowance race,santiva the horse that beat him has safely kept's dam in second generation no chance at derby and third place at Kentucky jokey club race lost by a mile in the holly bull no class in that race,super saver won that race in 1:42 4/5 !!who is the next contender friends?.

cuban chef de race 09 Feb 2011 3:03 PM

if la troienne come back to life and see this desendant from her she is going to get angry about him that's for sure.

cuban chef de race 09 Feb 2011 4:59 PM

Astrology has an outstanding pedigree-one that will guarantee he stays the distance and inject pace at will. Was a big baby last year and still managed to run away with G3 and almost snatch G2. This horse is the real deal-make no mistake. Love to buy into this family-love ap indy-shame Quiet Eclipse is deceased-could have been one of the greats,

The Duke 11 Feb 2011 2:43 PM

Astrology is very soft on his dam's side. his sire's side has ALWAYS been a strong side. That is why most foals by A.P. Indy go for so much more than say, an All American colt. A.P. Indy colts are lined with strong blood. It is the broodmare side that must be more closely examined when choosing the breeding pairs. ((Like when Somethingroyal- by Princequillo, was bred to Bold Ruler.)) Astrology's line on the dam's side is very soft and not filled with the bloodlines he may need to be considered a champion, but he is not to be denied a chance just yet. Let his debut as a 3 year old.

picture.geek12 08 Mar 2011 1:13 PM

I hope the connections re-think running him in the derby, If he runs and does not finish 1st, 2nd or 3rd I will refund thier entry fee.  This horse is that good, as a matter of fact he could be triple crown good.  Run him in the derby, you won't be disappointed.

JCRII 27 Apr 2011 6:29 PM

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