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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