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Derby Dream Still Alive

Owner Mike Repole has doubtless been dreaming of the Kentucky Derby ever since Uncle Mo crossed the finishing line to capture the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I). Happily, after the weekend the dream is still alive. The opposition for the one mile Timely Writer Stakes (video below) was hardly the sternest, but the Champion could not have been more convincing, finishing up with a :22 4/5 quarter, albeit it off a dawdling early pace, and galloping out an extra eighth.

The biggest question regarding Uncle Mo – and one the weekend did nothing to resolve – is will he get ten furlongs? His sire, Indian Charlie (TrueNicks,SRO), came into the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) undefeated, and off a victory over Real Quiet in the nine-furlong Santa Anita Derby (gr. I). He finished third to the same horse in the Derby, fading in the last 100 yards or so. He has predominantly been an influence for miler-type speed, although his Champion Older Mare Fleet Indian tallied at 10 furlongs, and Pampered Princess, Two Trail Sioux, My Pal Charlie (TrueNicks,SRO), and another current 3-year-old, Anthony’s Cross, all have good wins at nine furlongs.

The dam, Playa Maya, won over 8 ½ furlongs, and is by Arch (TrueNicks,SRO), who scored his best win in the 10-furlong Super Derby (gr. I) and would qualify as a stamina influence by modern American standards. The second dam, Dixie Slippers, is by Dixieland Band, who sired everything from sprinters to a winner of the 2½ mile Ascot Gold Cup (gr. I), but who herself did all her winning at six furlongs. Overall, we’d have to say that this looks like a stretching out miler pedigree, we’d be a little surprised if ten furlongs turns out to be his best trip – although this type of background has got the job done in the past. Whether there will be a genuine 1¼ mile horse good enough to test him is another question.

Two owner-breeders will also be dreaming Derby after the weekend. In the Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II), Uncle Mo’s stable-companion, Brethren (Distorted Humor (TrueNicks,SRO) half brother to Super Saver (TrueNicks,SRO)) was made a lot of early, and faded to third as Watch Me Go ran down ex-claimer Crimson Knight. Watch Me Go (TrueNicks A++) was representing his breeder, Gil Campbell, who has produced numerous good horses from his Ocala-based Stonehedge Farm South. Watch Me Go is by Stonehedge Farm resident stallion West Acre (TrueNicks). Although unraced, West Acre certainly has a stallion pedigree as he is by Forty Niner out of Narrate, and is three-parts-brother to Preach (dam of Pulpit (TrueNicks,SRO)), and Yarn (dam of Tale of the Cat (TrueNicks,SRO)). From rather limited numerical opportunities, West Acre has sired 11 stakes winners, including the multiple graded stakes winning Ivanavinalot (out of a Deputy Minister mare) and graded scorer Speak Easy Gal (dam by a son of Deputy Minister). With all three of his graded winners coming from just 23 starters out of Deputy Minister line mares, one might have to conclude that there could be some sort of genetic affinity taking place here!

The dam, who has also bred a stakes-placed horse by West Acre, is half sister to prolific Canadian handicap stakes winner Blitzer; to Diamonds Galore, a turf sprinter, who took third in the Nunthorpe Stakes (gr. I) on foray to England), and 2-year-old turf stakes winner Cozy Star. The second dam, Sirona, won the Ontario Damsel Stakes, and equaled a track record for 6½ furlongs at Woodbine. There is a rather fascinating pedigree pattern here (click for TrueNicks report) as the sire is out of a mare by Honest Pleasure, and the second dam is by Irish Stronghold. Both of these horses are products of a cross of Bold Ruler over English Derby winner, Tulyar, and a similar combination (mostly involving Irish Stronghold’s brother, Irish Castle) is found in at least six other stakes winners, including grade I scorer, Mi Sueno. Watch Me Go is reportedly going to head towards the Derby, but he’s going to need to improve, and with a second dam who was dominant for speed is not guaranteed to want to run long either.

Meanwhile, on the West Coast Cho Myung Kwon is turning out to be a veritable modern day Federico Tesio, scoring as an breeder, owner, and trainer. Three years ago he upset the subsequent Champion 2-Year-Old Midshipman (TrueNicks,SRO) in the Norfolk Stakes (gr. I) with Street Hero (TrueNicks,SRO). Now he may have an even better one to represent him in the shape of Premier Pegasus, a Fusaichi Pegasus (TrueNicks,SRO) half brother to Street Hero, for whom he again fulfills all three roles. Three-for-three as a juvenile including wins in the Jack Goodman Stakes and Hollywood Prevue Stakes (gr. III), Premier Pegasus was third to The Factor in the San Vicente Stakes (gr. II) on his season reappearance. At the weekend, he impressed in the 8½ furlong San Felipe Stakes (gr. II), charging home 7¾ lengths clear of the highly-rated Jaycito.

Premier Pegasus, who is rated A by TrueNicks, is one top 3-year-old whose pedigree suggests that 10 furlongs may not be a problem. He is by Fusaichi Pegasus, himself a Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner, and is out of Squall Linda, a graded-placed daughter of Preakness Stakes (gr. I) victor Summer Squall (himself sire of Kentucky Derby winner Charismatic). The second dam, Glimmer Glass, is a stakes-winning half sister to Trojan Bronze, a grade I winner over 1½ miles, and is by The Axe II, who was another who stayed well. The third dam, Glass of Fashion, is by Ambiorix II, and her granddam, Source Sucree (the dam of Turn-to), is a half sister to Ambiorix II, so has the famous mare Lavendula II 2x3. Premier Pegasus is the product of the Fusaichi Pegasas/Storm Bird cross, which has produced eight stakes winners, including Andromeda’s Hero, who was also runner-up in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I).

Streaky second season sire War Front (TrueNicks,SRO) added to his tally of first crop stakes winners – now at five - when 3-year-old cot Great Mills took the Grindstone Stakes at Turfway Park. TrueNicks rated A++, Great Mills is out of a mare by Glitterman, a half brother to the dam of Rubiano (broodmare sire of War Front), the second dam is by Ogygian, whose dam is a half sister to the dam of Fappiano, the sire of Rubiano.

We’ve been waxing lyrical about the current three-year-old crop sired by Tapit (TrueNicks,SRO) (his third, usually not one of a horse’s strongest). Now it has another potential star in Joyful Victory, who gained her first stakes victory when dominating the Honeybee Stakes (gr. III), scoring by 8½ lengths. The tally for the crop now stands at 16 stakes horses; seven stakes winners; and five graded stakes winners, including grade I winners Zazu and Tell a Kelly. Joyful Victory (TrueNicks A++) is the second stakes winner from five starters by Tapit out of mares by Wild Again (a cross that has also found success for his sire Pulpit). Her dam is a three-parts-sister to the top-class mare, A Wild Bride, and is also a sister to the dam of stakes winner Charlie Papa, and to the granddam of graded winner Artie Hot. The second dam is an Alydar half sister to Champion 2-Year-Old Roving Boy, going back to a sister to War Relic.

Another horse we’ve noted as having good bunch of three-year-olds is Harlan's Holiday (TrueNicks,SRO), and he also has a smart 3-year-old filly in Dynamic Holiday (TrueNicks A++), who took the Herecomesthebride Stakes (gr. III) for her first graded win. She is one of two stakes winners from seven starters by Harlan’s Holiday out of Roberto line mares.

The most prestigious contest of the weekend was the Santa Margarita Invitational (gr. I), which went to Miss Match, who outstayed Switch for a head victory. Miss Match was foaled in Argentina, and is by Indygo Shiner (TrueNicks,SRO), an A.P. Indy (TrueNicks,SRO) son who has been a sensation in the country, and who shuttles north to Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms in Lexington, Kentucky. She is one of three grade I winners by that horse out of mares by Southern Halo.

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