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Derby Threat: Soldat

by Ian Tapp

Front-running 3-year-old colts by War Front (TrueNicks,SRO) have won Kentucky Derby (gr. I) preps in each of the past two weekends, but the similarities between The Factor and Soldat probably end there.

San Vicente Stakes (gr. II) winner The Factor, while extremely fast, is one-dimensional. He needs the lead and is unlikely to stretch his speed much farther than seven furlongs. Soldat, meanwhile, is about as versatile as they come. He was already a winner at nine furlongs, and after his Fountain of Youth (gr. II, video below) score, he is now a graded winner on dirt and turf. Soldat has never been worse than second in seven career starts, running on fast, good, muddy, and sloppy main tracks, and on firm and yielding turf courses.

Soldat possesses early speed, but he’s already shown the ability to rate off the pace, an important skill for fast-paced races like the Kentucky Derby. In this regard, Soldat’s three turf forays last season—the With Aniticipation (gr. III), Pilgrim (gr. III), and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. II)—were quite educational, as he rated well in each contest.

Soldat’s style is reminiscent of Super Saver (TrueNicks,SRO), a pace horse whose tactical speed (and Calvin Borel) put him in the ideal striking position in last year’s Kentucky Derby.

Clifford Barry of Pin Oak Stud bred Soldat under his Brookfield Stud banner. A former Kentucky farm manager of the year, Barry bought Soldat’s dam, Le Relais, as a yearling for $27,000.

Le Relais is a daughter of Haskell Invitational and Travers (both gr. I) winner Coronado’s Quest, whose broodmare sire record has been booming recently thanks to Soldat, Hopeful (gr. I) winner and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) second Boys At Tosconova, and Dubai World Cup (gr. I) contender Mendip.

Le Relais is a half sister to Canadian turf mare Mulrainy, a grade III winner at seven furlongs, and a grade I-placed stakes winner at 8.5 furlongs. Le Relais did not make it to the races, but Barry sent her to first year stallion War Front for her initial mating. The resulting colt, Soldat, was foaled and raised at Pin Oak. The mare still resides at the farm, where she is in foal to Pin Oak stallion Broken Vow (TrueNicks,SRO).

Harvey Clarke races Soldat, having purchased the colt at the 2009 Keeneland September yearling sale. Bloodstock agent Steve Shahinian advised Clarke on the selection.

“He’s by an inexpensive stallion, and I thought I’d buy him for $50,000 or $75,000,” Shahinian told The Blood-Horse last November. “We ended up giving $180,000. But he was so nice compared to what else I was looking at that we stretched the budget.”

It turned out to be a brilliant buy. Soldat has earned over $550,000 and will be among the favorites in the $1 million Florida Derby (gr. I) on April 3.

A quick note on Soldat's name: Being by War Front out of a mare with a French name, soldat is French for "soldier." English-speaking race callers have yet to catch on that the t is silent. Click here for the proper pronunciation.

The cross of War Front and Mr. Prospector line mares has found immediate success, rating A++ with stakes winners Soldat, The Factor, and Tensas Punch from only 10 starters. This is an extension of Danzig/Mr. Prospector, a turf-oriented, TrueNicks A-rated combination responsible for gr. I sprinters Dayjur and Pas De Reponse, and nine-furlong Hollywood Derby (gr. I) winner Brahms. Danzig and sons have excelled with Forty Niner mares specifically, getting six stakes winners from 66 starters, rating A on TrueNicks. It’s no surprise to see this favorable trend continuing with War Front and Coronado’s Quest.

As the controlling speed in the Fountain of Youth, Soldat was allowed to set moderate fractions, and his 13-second final furlong doesn't exactly suggest a desire for more ground. But the Kentucky Derby is still 10 weeks away, giving Soldat time for further development. Consider that if Soldat can return with a Florida Derby victory, he'll have the impressive résumé of three consecutive wins at nine furlongs—something no other Kentucky Derby starter is likely to have.

Click here to view the TrueNicks Enhanced report for Soldat.

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Clifford Barry's Brookfield Stud had also bred the very talented 2005 KY Derby prospect, High Limit. It's obvious that Clifford knows what he's doing. Clifford's employer, Pin Oak, bred (and owns) another top 2011 Derby contender, the royally bred Alternation. If things go right Mr. Barry may be in for a rooting interest dilemma when they line up for this year's Derby. He should be very proud of his accomplishments.  

sceptre 28 Feb 2011 6:59 PM

Agree the key to "Sold-ah" is the fact he has shown how to rate. Just hasn't had to in his last two starts. Probably flies in the face of conventional wisdom but I like all this mile-and-an-eighth experience at this stage of the game. The horse continues to intrigue me. ...

JerseyTom 28 Feb 2011 7:28 PM

I think the fact that War Front's dam was a very untypical Rubiano, ran well in top company at 12 furlongs on turf, is also having an impact.

I'm not claiming parity of ability, but there are some parallels with Big Brown here: began on turf at two, made the switch to dirt with a wide margin off-turf allowance at Gulfstream Park, and then came back to win a Gulfstream Park Derby trial.

Alan Porter 01 Mar 2011 9:19 AM

"Soldat" is German for "soldier" so the 't' is pronounced. The plural is "Soldaten." Fans of Kurt Weill can recall the song from The Threepenny Opera -

"Soldaten wohnen auf den Kanonen...," My high school German teacher gave us handouts of the lyrics and had us sing along with a recording.

Pedigree Ann 01 Mar 2011 10:55 AM

One of the biggest problem of racing in the last 20 years is that horses don't need to be conditioned to race beyond sprint distances if they can't do it on speed training alone. There is enough money and G1s to be won without exploring all of the animal's potential. Had Ack Ack been running today, my bet is that he would have been kept at sprint distances and run up an admirable sprinting/miling record, then surprised the world when he sired stayers. But then we racing fans would have been robbed of the opportunity to see what that marvelous horse was truly capable of.

Pedigree Ann 01 Mar 2011 11:05 AM

Pedigree Ann,

Soldat is both French and German, but in this case it is French. According to Soldat's owner, he is named for the French word because his dam also has a French name.


Ian Tapp 01 Mar 2011 11:36 AM

I'm becoming a Soldat fan. Still my doubts, but this guy has been erasing them. In the Fountain, he gets out of the gate slow, so that's to be considered. Was hit just 2-3 times (1 or 2 basically a tap) during the stretch run, so that's another detail. And he was closely chased by two horses during more than half the race, and horses don't have to go fast to get tired; many times they tire because of the stress of having horsebody nipping at your heels (remember Blame's Classic: first furlongs weren't too fast yet all the leaders arrived last). So he's fast, he can get position quickly, he can rate, he can relax, he can get 1-1/8 miles on ANY surface (Derbys many times are run in slop), is VERY consistent, has a perfect schedule...and has enough earnings which could permit some "experiments" on the Fla Derby. Just needs to get 200mts more...that's it.

Vaduz 01 Mar 2011 2:29 PM

They both have the same Beyers, albeit different tracks and distances, but if they can teach TF to rate, he'll be a monster...with that distance type structure, his pedigree (War Front himself was one dimensional, but his pedigree says distance) all he has to do is grow up mentally...that being said, I love these 2 brothers.

Rachel 01 Mar 2011 3:31 PM

Soldat is one I expect to be on the board at the end of the KD, if not the winner. He is able to rate right up there and stay out of most of the traffic.

Early Speed 01 Mar 2011 7:15 PM

forget TF he is not in the derby picture, thats what Baffert hinted.

Jon 01 Mar 2011 11:19 PM

Soldat and Flashpoint run the same day on the same track and both are bred on the same nick Danzig x Mr. Prospector

Beyer  for Flashpoint was 108 (won by 7 1/2 L), for Soldat 104 (granted at two different distance)

My question is: do you think Flashpoit will get the Derby distance ?

Like to get your comment.

marc 01 Mar 2011 11:41 PM

He won't win beyond 9f!

AustinBnike 02 Mar 2011 7:38 AM

With so many very lightly raced horses potentially going into the gate for the KD, those with more races under belt are going to have a big advantage. Not only will those horses have the seasoning on the track, but they will hopefully be able to endure the atmosphere at the track a little better. So I'm giving more credence to horses like Soldat and Gourmet Dinner because of the number of races they've run, even though they may not be as brilliant as some.

Karen in Indiana 02 Mar 2011 7:38 AM


I wish the owner of Soldat would have told me that he was named after the French word for soldier. I did look it up and saw it was soldier in several languages including French and German. In all of his previous starts, the race callers pronounced it Soldat with a "t". And several of us are well aware that the "t" is silent at the end of French words. It would make our jobs easier if we got a phone call on pronunciations, especially after calling the horse in his previous start.

Larry Collmus

Gulfstream Park Announcer

Larry Collmus 02 Mar 2011 1:52 PM

Hi Larry,

Nice to hear from you. Personally, I think the name sounds better with the 't' pronounced. In fact, we're all still referring to him that way over here at The Blood-Horse. It reminds me of 2002, when Trevor Denman called Medaglia d'Oro with the 'g' pronounced in the San Felipe. Then Durkin said it the Italian way in the Wood Memorial.

Does this mean you'll call him as "Sol-dah" in the Florida Derby?


Ian Tapp 02 Mar 2011 2:04 PM

many of alan garcia stake winners bounce in the next one let' see with this one

eg 02 Mar 2011 2:11 PM

I will try to track down the owner and make sure that's what he wants. If you have contact info for him, please email me. I'm kind of a francophile anyway as you can tell by my pronunciation of Christophe Clement etc. The French ones tend to be my strong suit of the foreign names. I may even overdo it. Haha.  

So if he's named for the French word for soldier and the owner approves, he will be indeed be Sol-dah in the Fla Derby.

Larry Collmus 02 Mar 2011 2:15 PM

It is all a guessing game at this point but I do have a $50 futures bet on Soldat at 18-1 which I won't see again after the F of Y. As Vaduz points out there is a tremendous difference between a horse left alone on the front end (think War Emblem in the KD) and one who has shown the ability to withstand pressure.  Two horses made nice runs at him and it did not seem to bother him.

Warren L 02 Mar 2011 7:53 PM

the real problem i do see this year is name the factor,and not because i think he is going to win but because if he goes to the derby like uncle mo with a single two turn race with the natural high speed both have that can affect soldat that has been close to the pace in all 4 of his dirt races and when he ran in fast pace races at 2 he was losing ground slowly at the end,just an observation with him but his dam sire coronado's Quest won the wood in 1;47 3/5! with a beyer of 117! that same year indian charly {uncle mo]won the santa anita derby with a 111 beyer and zito's hallory hunter won the blue grass with a 112 beyer and both ran well in the derby so soldat's dam sire wast fastest of that crop and also set a track record as a 2 year old.  

cuban chef de race 02 Mar 2011 8:24 PM

i have not seen a derby winner in more then thirty  years winning the derby after running in 3 consecutive 9 furlong races in fact only barbaro won 2 nine furlong races and won the derby and he was by proven stamina sire dynaformer and the fit the profile of last five derby winners with 2 preps Empire maker [by unbridle !]tried that and finished 2d to the horse he beat in the last prep,be careful with that pattern some times too many miles can take the car to the junk yard,just a coment friends.

cuban chef de race 02 Mar 2011 9:12 PM

I agree that Soldat has the most interesting resume going!  I didn't realize he had a 104 Beyer for the F of Y Stakes.  Huge advantages for him:  Multi surface horse, wins at 1 and 1/8 miles, and can rate!  Breeding does not rule out Derby distance.  I'm on him until he says not to be.

Maggie 02 Mar 2011 9:34 PM

pay attention to the 4 northern dancer descendants that won the derby since the so fame Dual Qualifier system started in 1981 Ferdinand by Nijinsky11 did finish 3d in the fastest prep in santa anita derby to the great runner snow chef who came to florida and won the florida derby and after the derby won the Preakness,sea hero by polish navy out of a graustark[full brother to his majestic sire of derby winner p. colony]mare who won the G1 champagne in 1:34 and change did finish 4th in the blue grass before he won the derby to P.bayou who came back to win the Preakness,charismatic by Summer Squall who did set a stake record in the Lexington before the derby,this 3 winners ran in a single 9 fur.race and did finish 3,4,4 the only northern dancer descendant to even try and win a 9 fur. prep was big brown and won the florida derby from 12 post position in 1:48 1/5! in a very fast pace so ferdinand ran in the fastest prep last time out,sea hero ran in the fastest prep last time out,charismatic won the fastest prep last time out and big brown won the fastest prep last time out and was a clear superior runner to his derby field so Soldat is very good but i do need to see him run fast in a fast track going 8.5 to 9 furlongs then i will see what i do.        

cuban chef de race 02 Mar 2011 11:11 PM

Soldat was awarded a 96 Beyer in the Fountain, not a 104.

Elsandito 06 Mar 2011 10:31 PM

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