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Derby Pedigrees Examined

In terms of depth, this year's 3-year-old crop is shaping up to be the best since 2007, which gave us Street Sense (TrueNicks,SRO), Curlin (TrueNicks,SRO), Rags to Riches, Hard Spun (TrueNicks,SRO), and Any Given Saturday (TrueNicks,SRO). Nine days out from the Kentucky Derby, the field looks to be highly competitive with most of the top contenders bred to excel at the added distances of the Triple Crown races. Here's a brief rundown of the top 20 contenders with links to their TrueNicks reports to assist in your analysis.

Alpha

It would be hard to find a more classic-bred pedigree than Alpha's. Not only is he from an excellent family (Kamar, Square Angel), but he's by Preakness (gr. I) winner Bernardini (TrueNicks,SRO) out of a mare by English Triple Crown winner Nijinsky II, who as a broodmare sire gets winners averaging 8.27 f. Colts on the A.P. Indy/Nijinsky II cross average 8.82 f. TrueNicks

Bodemeister

Bodemeister might get the award for most exciting stallion prospect in the field—a fast son of exported Empire Maker who can carry his speed nine furlongs, as seen when he romped in the Arkansas Derby (gr. I). He's out of a juvenile grade III-winning, grade I-placed Storm Cat mare, which helps to explain Bodemeister's speed, and colts on the Empire Maker/Storm Cat cross win at 8.38 f on average. Empire Maker has already sired Pioneerof the Nile (TrueNicks,SRO), another Baffert-Zayat runner, to be second in the 2009 Derby. TrueNicks

Creative Cause

Talk about a rags to riches story. Creative Cause's second dam was a $7,000 broodmare purchase and was bred to $3,000 stallion Siberian Summer to produce grade I winner Dream of Summer. She didn't make it to the races until she was 4, but won the 8.5-furlong Apple Blossom (gr. I), five other stakes, and over $1 million in purses. Bred to leading sire Giant's Causeway (TrueNicks,SRO)—whose progeny win at an average of 8.61 f—she produced grade I winner Creative Cause on the potent Storm Cat/Siberian Express cross. TrueNicks

Daddy Long Legs

One of two Scat Daddy (TrueNicks,SRO) colts in the field, Daddy Long Legs has more of a miler's pedigree, and the presence of Meadowlake (6.60 f broodmare sire average winning distance) certainly isn't an endorsement for getting the Derby trip. While the second dam did win a Canadian stakes at 10 furlongs, the dam, Dreamy Maiden, has produced exclusively sprinters aside from Daddy Long Legs. Relishing the Kentucky Derby distance will be unlikely. TrueNicks

Daddy Nose Best

The other Scat Daddy colt, Daddy Nose Best, is out of a mare by Derby-Belmont winner Thunder Gulch (TrueNicks,SRO) and is much more likely to appreciate the Derby trip. Colts on the cross win at an average of 7.31 f, and Daddy Nose Best enters off two graded wins at nine furlongs. TrueNicks

Done Talking

Done Talking beat a weak field in the Illinois Derby (gr. III), so he'll have some class questions going into the Kentucky Derby. On pedigree, he'd seem better off cutting back in distance rather than stretching out, but his dam did have a fair amount of class (she won the grade III, seven-furlong Cicada Stakes). Notables on the Broken Vow (TrueNicks,SRO)/Dixieland Band cross are sprinter/miler Cotton Blossom and sprinter Sindy With an S, and colts on the cross win at a 6.86 f average. TrueNicks

Dullahan

Being a half brother to Derby winner Mine That Bird gives confidence that he'll appreciate the distance, but the big question here is surface. Sire Even the Score (TrueNicks,SRO) ran well on dirt and turf, but his best runners are turf/synthetic specialists, such as his other grade I-winning son Take the Points. Furthermore, the second-best runner on the Even the Score/Mr. Prospector cross is turf mare Enjoy the Score. TrueNicks

El Padrino

Pedigree and running style suggest El Padrino won't have too many issues with the distance. The Pulpit/Storm Cat cross produced 2010 Derby runner-up Ice Box (TrueNicks,SRO), whose dam is by distance-oriented Storm Cat son Tabasco Cat, just as El Padrino is out of a mare by distance-oriented Giant's Causeway. The real question is whether El Padrino will be sharp enough for a race like the Kentucky Derby, so his final work will be telling. TrueNicks

Gemologist

Undefeated Gemologist, like his sire Tiznow (TrueNicks,SRO), is gritty, speedy, and seemingly unfazed by added distance. His pedigree is in line with many recent Derby winners, who are ideally bred for 8-9 furlongs but get the extra furlong on class. TrueNicks

Hansen

2-year-old champ Hansen enters Churchill off a strong effort on synthetic, just as he did last year for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I). The son of Tapit (TrueNicks,SRO) has already overcome a modest female family, but he's still a speed horse going 10 furlongs in what is almost always a strongly run race. If the pace scenario works out for him, keep in mind that Careless Jewel, another Tapit/Storm Cat cross, stalked the early leader in the 10-furlong Alabama Stakes (gr. I) before drawing off by 11 lengths. TrueNicks

I'll Have Another

I'll Have Another, by Travers (gr. I) winner Flower Alley (TrueNicks,SRO), comes from a very stout family, even if it's not loaded with class. The dam won her only start in a maiden special weight at Belmont. The second dam was a turf allowance mare who raced almost exclusively beyond a mile (regularly at 10, 11, and 12 furlongs) on the NYRA circuit. TrueNicks

Liaison

The late Indian Charlie, who almost had a Derby starter last year in Uncle Mo (TrueNicks,SRO), has longshot Liaison this year. Indian Charlie is primarily a sprinter/miler sire, though Liaison's dam is a cross of two Belmont winners, Victory Gallop and A.P. Indy. She was a turf stakes winner at 8.5 furlongs and placed second in the Alcibiades (gr. II) on Keeneland's dirt. Barring a complete pace meltdown, though, it's difficult to picture Liaison returning to form in a 10-furlong grade I on dirt. TrueNicks

Mark Valeski

Mark Valeski is one of two Proud Citizen (TrueNicks,SRO) colts in the Derby field, adding to the banner year for the Airdrie stallion. Mark Valeski comes from a very fast Gone West/Fortunate Prospect cross, although his dam was a multiple stakes winner at nine furlongs and hails from the family of Silver Buck, sire of Derby winner Silver Charm. Still, failing to run down Hero of Order in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) makes it hard to imagine he'll appreciate more ground. After the Derby, look for this colt to point to the seven-furlong King's Bishop (gr. I). TrueNicks

Prospective

This Malibu Moon (TrueNicks,SRO) colt will be a longshot on Derby day, but on pedigree he probably has a good chance to outrun his odds. Out of an Awesome Again (TrueNicks,SRO) mare who was a stakes winner at 8.5 furlongs, Prospective's closing style should benefit him in the likely event of a strong pace. As a point of interest, his third dam is 1987 champion older mare North Sider. TrueNicks

Rousing Sermon

Credit second-crop sire Lucky Pulpit (TrueNicks,SRO), a sprinter, for siring a Derby runner. Like Prospective, he's out of an Awesome Again mare, which is a positive in the stamina category, but overall his pedigree doesn't come close to what you'd expect in a Kentucky Derby winner. TrueNicks

Sabercat

Yet another closer in this year's Derby, Sabercat has an interesting pedigree profile. Sire Bluegrass Cat (TrueNicks,SRO) was second in the Derby and Belmont, and broodmare sire Forty Niner was also second in the Derby. The dam is closely related to promising sire Awesome Gambler (TrueNicks), sire of this year's Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I) winner, Willa B Awesome. Colts on the Bluegrass Cat/Forty Niner cross average 7.03 f winning distance—not bad for such a young cross. Sabercat will probably appreciate the added distance more than most and could threaten to get in the exotics. TrueNicks

Take Charge Indy

By A.P. Indy out of multiple grade I winner Take Charge Lady, it's safe to say this mating was aimed to produce a classic horse. Sure enough, the Florida Derby (gr. I) winner Take Charge Indy has, at least on paper, what looks to be an excellent shot. But Take Charge Lady is putting a lot of speed into her foals—first with the classy Seeking the Gold filly Charming, and now with Take Charge Indy—so it doesn't seem that this colt is begging for 10 furlongs like a typical A.P. Indy would. TrueNicks

Trinniberg

Young sire Teuflesberg (TrueNicks,SRO) looks like he could make quite a useful sire, but so far all his best runners are sprinters. The dam, by sprinter Goldminers Gold, was stakes-placed going six furlongs at Finger Lakes. Along with Mark Valeski, Trinniberg looks like another candidate for the King's Bishop. TrueNicks

Union Rags

We've already asked the question "Can Union Rags stretch out?" The Dixie Union colt comes from a very classy female family, and similar to Gemologist, he has what you'd call an 8-9 furlong pedigree and would have to get the extra furlong on class. He's not crying out for 10 furlongs, but could be the one to beat if he continues to train well leading up to the race. TrueNicks

Went the Day Well

While the other Proud Citizen colt, Mark Valeski, probably wants no part in 10 furlongs, Went the Day Well has a more encouraging distance profile. His dam is by Tiznow out of the Roberto mare Sweet Roberta, who was second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I). Like Animal Kingdom last year, Went the Day Well enters off a win in the Spiral (gr. III) for Team Valor and Graham Motion. However, Went the Day Well raced greenly in the stretch and might be too inexperienced to best this year's strong field. TrueNicks

For handicapping analysis, check out Why They Can/Can't Win on the Triple Crown Talk blog.

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