Derby Threat: Dialed In

by Ian Tapp

Dialed In’s story begins in late April, 20 years ago, when a gelding named Dinard was the 1991 Kentucky Derby favorite. The son of Strawberry Road had just worn down Best Pal to win the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) for owner-breeder Allen Paulson. With the defections of Wood Memorial (gr. I) winner Cahill Road (Unbridled’s full brother) and sweetheart filly Meadow Star, Dinard inherited the role of Derby favoritism.

But it was not to be. Dinard aggravated a suspensory ligament in a workout, forcing him to the sidelines. Instead, the Nick Zito-trained Strike the Gold claimed that year’s Derby (video) over Best Pal, the same rival Dinard had bested four weeks earlier.

Paulson still owned Dinard’s dam, Daring Bidder, a Bold Bidder mare that he had bought as a yearling for $125K. She didn’t race, but her first five foals were stakes horses. The youngest of that quintet was the Mt. Livermore filly Eliza.

Eliza won three graded events at two, including the 1992 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I, video), and was named champion two-year-old filly. At three, she won the Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I), ran third to males in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I), and was second in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I, video) after failing to stay in the final furlong.

As a broodmare, Eliza has produced three stakes horses. Her current three-year-old is Irish group-placed stakes winner Samuel Morse. By Danehill Dancer, Samuel Morse has early classic entries in the Irish 2,000 Guineas and Epsom Derby (both gr. I) for owner Michael Tabor and trainer Aidan O’Brien.

Eliza’s grade II-placed Storm Cat daughter Miss Doolittle has produced expensive yearlings nearly every season. Miss Doolittle’s first foal, the $600K Seeking the Gold filly Broadway Gold, won the 5 ½-furlong Astoria Stakes at Belmont Park.

At last year’s Keeneland November sale, Miss Doolittle was offered in foal to Horse of the Year Curlin (TrueNicks,SRO), and she sold for $85K. This proved to be good value just four days later, when her previously unraced Mineshaft (TrueNicks,SRO) colt Dialed In became all the buzz after a visually impressive maiden win at Churchill Downs that you have to see to believe (video).

Reappearing in the one-mile Holy Bull (gr. III, video below) for trainer Nick Zito, Dialed In delivered another impressive out-of-the-clouds performance, further elevating his Kentucky Derby status.

A $475K yearling buy for Robert LaPenta's Whitehorse Stable, Dialed In is by all accounts a magnificent looking colt. On pedigree, however, one must question how much farther beyond one mile he wants to go.

The cross of A.P. Indy (TrueNicks,SRO) and sons with Storm Cat mares has been tried often. Two of classiest sires of the modern era, Storm Cat’s precociousness would seem a perfect complement to A.P. Indy’s stamina. Rated B on TrueNicks, there are 14 stakes winners from 159 starters on the cross, a strike rate nearly twice average (see the TrueNicks Enhanced report below).

As both A.P. Indy and Storm Cat are out of mares by Secretariat, the cross creates an automatic duplication of the great Triple Crown winner.

Early-developing Sky Mesa (TrueNicks,SRO) is the most accomplished runner on the cross. The son of Pulpit (TrueNicks,SRO) won the Hopeful (gr. I) and Breeders’ Futurity (gr. II) at two. Bred similarly are 2010 grade I-winning fillies Wickedly Perfect and Turbulent Descent. Both are by Congrats (TrueNicks,SRO) (an A.P. Indy/Mr. Prospector cross like Mineshaft and Pulpit) and out of a mares by sons of Storm Cat. On the whole, the cross is shifted toward early performance up to slightly beyond one mile.

Dialed In’s family offers little encouragement that he can buck this pedigree trend and stay the Derby distance. His sprinting dam has produced three pure sprinters by Seeking the Gold, Came Home, and Elusive Quality (TrueNicks,SRO), and a stakes-placed turfer by Kingmambo at 8 ½ furlongs. Second dam Eliza was a champion, but she was stretched to her limit at 8 ½ furlongs.

Mineshaft may hold the key to Dialed In’s range. The sire’s versatility was illustrated last season by Risen Star (gr. II) winner Discreetly Mine (TrueNicks,SRO), who later developed into a grade I sprinter, and by Fly Down, who placed in three premier grade I events at 10 furlongs or beyond—namely, the Belmont, Travers, and Breeders’ Cup Classic.

If running style is a guide, then Dialed In takes after stretch-running Fly Down, also trained by Zito. The style could make him more likely to get the distance, but it will put him at the mercy of pace and traffic.

Click here to view the TrueNicks Enhanced report for Dialed In.

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