A Roberto Line Weekend in Derby Preps

This weekend it was the Roberto line's turn to dominate the Derby trials. The $1,000,000 Arkansas Derby (gr. I) went to Archarcharch who held off the on-rushing Nehro by a neck. Archarcharch is by Arch (TrueNicks,SRO) (by Kris S.) out of the Woodman mare Woodman’s Dancer. His second dam, Pattern Step, a daughter of Nureyev, won the Hollywood Oaks (gr. I). This pedigree is remarkably similar to that of Arch’s standout son Blame (TrueNicks,SRO), whose dam is by Seeking the Gold (same Mr. Prospector/Buckpasser cross as Woodman) out of Bound, a three-parts-sister to Nureyev.

The Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) was even closer with Brilliant Speed (A++) getting home by a nose from Twinspired (another good 3-year-old by Harlan's Holiday (TrueNicks,SRO)) and King Congie (from the first crop of Badge of Silver (TrueNicks,SRO)). Brilliant Speed is a son of Dynaformer (TrueNicks,SRO) and the Gone West mare Speed Succeeds. Gone West line mares can be hard to match, but the Roberto line is evolving into something of an affinity, and there are five stakes winners by sons of Roberto out Gone West mares, from 33 starters. This is a variation on the Dynaformer/Mr. Prospector cross that has already produced a Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner in Barbaro. The cross of Dynaformer with Mr. Prospector line mares was initially somewhat disappointing, but as Dynaformer rose to the upper echelon of sires, he began covering a much more compatable (and often turfy) type of Mr. Prospector descendant. The cross with Mr. Prospector line mares has now also given him such as German Derby (gr. I) winner Wiener Walzer, English champion 3-year-old filly Ocean Silk, and grade I winners Film Maker, Riskaverse, Gozzip Girl, and White Moonstone. Brilliant Speed’s dam is a half sister to Canadian champion older mare Serenading. The granddam, Daijin, is a stakes-winning sister to Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Touch Gold (TrueNicks,SRO) and Canadian Triple Crown winner With Approval.

There isn’t much doubt about either Archarcharch or Brilliant Speed getting the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) trip, and the same applies to the Arkansas Derby (gr. I) runner-up Nehro (TrueNicks A), who has yet to win a stakes but who shouldn’t be overlooked as a Derby prospect. He’s a son of Mineshaft (TrueNicks,SRO), who already has Dialed In Churchill-bound. The dam, The Administrator, is a stakes-winning daughter of Afleet and has also produced graded winner Saint Marden and stakes winner Sweet Lips. Mineshaft is out of a mare by Mr. Prospector, and since Afleet is by Mr. Prospector, Nehro is inbred to that horse 3x3. Mineshaft has actually done very well with Mr. Prospector line mares, getting five stakes winners and 11 stakes horses on the cross.

Among the 3-year-old fillies, the decision (partly formed by genetic testing) to keep Turbulent Descent (TrueNicks A++) at shorter distances continues to pay dividends, as she won the Beaumont Stakes (gr. II) by five lengths. She's by last year's leading freshman sire Congrats (TrueNicks,SRO) (by A.P. Indy), who now has four stakes winners and a remarkable total of 15 stakes horses. Turbulent Descent is out of a mare by Forestry (TrueNicks,SRO).

Looking at the older divison, Keeneland staged a pair of graded sprint stakes that saw first time black type scorers. In the seven-furlong Commonwealth (gr. II), Aikenite (TrueNicks A++), a classic hopeful at one stage last year, emerged victorious. He’s by Yes It's True (TrueNicks,SRO), a horse who is worth keeping in mind as a value-for-money sire, but is generally better crossed with mares with some speed in their background. The dam here is by Saint Ballado out of Silver Clover, a daughter of Secretariat and the Arlington-Washington Lassie Stakes victress Clover Lane. The fourth dam is Grass Shack, also the third dam of Deputy Minister.

The Shakertown Stakes (gr. III) over 5½ furlongs on turf went to Stratford Hill (TrueNicks A+), who was making his stakes debut and overcame a very smart field. We believe he’s the first A.P. Indy to win a graded stakes over this short of a distance, but the performance becomes a little more understandable when one realizes that Stratford Hill’s dam is the excellent sprinting mare Harmony Lodge (by Hennessy), whose 10 wins included the Ballerina Handicap (gr. I).

Harmony Lodge is a half sister to three other stakes winners, including Graeme Hall (TrueNicks,SRO) – owned by Stratford Hill’s owner/breeder Eugene Melnyk. Graeme Hall has been doing a solid job as a stallion down in Florida, and he had a weekend graded stakes winner in Duke of Mischief (TrueNicks A++) who took the $1,000,000 Charles Town Classic Stakes (gr. III, video). Duke of Mischief is one of three stakes winners for Graeme Hall out of In Reality line mares, and we can note that Graeme Hall is inbred to In Reality’s dam, My Dear Girl, and her sister, Treasure Chest.

Another major weekend race for older horses was the historic San Juan Capistrano Handicap (gr. II), which went to Juniper Pass. He is by Lemon Drop Kid (TrueNicks,SRO) out of Child Bride, a daughter of up-and-coming broodmare sire Coronado’s Quest. The second dam, Chapel of Dreams, is a graded winner by Northern Dancer out of Terlingua, and so is three-parts-sister to Storm Cat. Incidentally, despite being a version of a Mr. Prospector/Mr. Prospector cross, Juniper Pass rates A++ on TrueNicks.

Lemon Drop Kid’s stud companion Smart Strike (TrueNicks,SRO) had a pair of weekend stakes winners with Never Retreat (out of a Steady Growth, by Briartic mare, and TrueNicks A++) in the Jenny Wiley Stakes (gr. II), and Miss Blakely (TrueNicks A++, and one of two stakes winners from seven starters for the sire out of mares by Rahy), who took the South Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

Another Mr. Prospector line stallion, the late Mr. Greeley, was represented by the Distaff Handicap (gr. II) victress Nicole H. She is out of a mare by Victory Gallop (TrueNicks,SRO) and the third dam is by Fappiano (so the dam is 3x3 to that horse) and is a half sister to champion sprinter Housebuster. She’s the fourth graded stakes winner by Mr. Greeley out of a Fappiano line mare.

We’ll finish with a couple of graded winners from the West Coast. Malibu Moon (TrueNicks,SRO)’s daughter Malibu Pier took her second straight graded stakes in the Santa Barbara Handicap (gr. II). TrueNicks rated A, she is out of a mare by Lomitas (German-bred son of Niniski, by Nijinsky II). The second dam is by Rainbow Quest (by Blushing Groom), and since Malibu Moon’s second dam is by the Nijinsky II horse Green Dancer, she has a double of Nijinsky II to combine with his frequent ally Blushing Groom.

On the same card Regally Ready (TrueNicks A++) gained his first graded win, taking the San Simeon Handicap (gr. III) and completing a weekend double for Grapestock LLC (the breeding entity of Vinery owner Dr. Tommy Simon), who also bred Archarcharch. He is by More Than Ready (TrueNicks,SRO) and his dam, by King of Kings (by Sadler’s Wells), has Sadler’s Wells and three-parts-brother Nureyev 2x2. More Than Ready’s sire, Southern Halo, is a Hail to Reason/Northern Dancer cross, the reverse of Sadler’s Wells, and More Than Ready has also sired Australian champion 2-year-old Phelan Ready and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. II) winner Pluck on the cross.

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