Trinniberg Could Be a Devil in Kentucky Derby

One of the most surprising twists in the build-up to the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) was the declaration of Trinniberg. It's not that Trinninberg hasn't shown a considerable level of talent—in his last two starts he's won graded stakes by six lengths and three lengths, and earlier he'd come within three-quarters of a length of winning a grade I—and he's comfortably in the field with graded stakes earnings of $341,300.

What does make this particular "Run For the Roses" somewhat unexpected is that Trinniberg has never started beyond seven furlongs in seven career starts, and is such a confirmed speedster that he's only once been headed at the first call in his life. Given his pace, it's going to be suicide for any horse with aspirations of Derby victory to try and take on Trinniberg for the lead. However, even for those inclined to let Trinniberg have his way, history shows that a he's the kind of horse who will tend to suck some major candidates into a quicker-than-optimal opening tempo. On top of that there is the potential hazard he might cause if he implodes somewhere around the quarter pole, and sinks rapidly through the field. Still, we thought it was worth a look at this horse who has the potential to bedevil the detailed planning of some of the classic candidates, and see if there is anything in his pedigree that suggests he might cause upset come the first Saturday in May.

One thing we can say is, whatever his fate at Churchill Downs, Trinniberg has proved well worth the $1,500 he cost at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale, or the $21,000 he fetched as an Ocala Breeders' Sales Company 2011 Spring Two-Year-Old in Training. In fact he paid off a good chunk of the initial outlay on his first outing, earning nearly $17,000 when coasting home nearly six lengths clear in a Calder maiden. Unplaced behind Union Rags in the Saratoga Special (gr. II) on a sloppy track—the only time he hasn't led at the first call—Trinniberg rebounded to miss by just three-quarters of a length to Currency Swap in the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I), and was then beaten the same margin by Vexor in the Nashua Stakes (gr. II). Sent out of for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint, Trinniberg once again made the lead, but had to run a first quarter in :20.96 to get there, and not surprisingly he compounded relatively early, finishing 13 1/2 lengths back of the winner, Secret Circle. This year, Trinniberg has been less sternly tested in the early fractions in his first two outings, and has responded by winning the Swale Stakes (gr. III) by six lengths and the Bay Shore Stakes (gr. III) by three.

Trinniberg's race record to date has some passing similarities with his sire, Teuflesberg (TrueNicks,SRO) (we guess a misspelt wordplay on his sire Johannesburg and broodmare sire Devil's Bag,"teufel" being German for devil). Another relatively inexpensive purchase as a young horse (a $9,000 yearling and $37,000 RNA at 2), Teuflesberg was also contesting graded stakes before he'd broken his maiden, doing best when missing by just a neck to his paternal half brother Scat Daddy (TrueNicks,SRO) in the Sanford Stakes (gr. II). Teuflesberg broke his maiden going seven furlongs at Churchill Downs in October, and after being beaten nearly 40 lengths behind Street Sense (TrueNicks,SRO) in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I), ended an 11-race 2-year-old campaign with victories in a Churchill Downs allowance and the six-furlong Sugar Bowl Stakes at Fair Grounds.

Teuflesberg kicked off his 3-year-old season with a third to Hard Spun (TrueNicks,SRO) in the Le Comte Stakes (gr. III), but rebounded to a new career high to lead throughout in the Southwest Stakes. Third in the Rebel Stakes (gr. III), Teuflesberg came within yards of stealing the Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) on the front end, but wound up fourth, beaten a nose, a head, and a head by Dominican, Street Sense, and Zanjero (TrueNicks,SRO). Although he'd come close to Street Sense in the Blue Grass (gr. I), Teuflesberg wound up more than 35 lengths in arrears in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), fading from contention after running in third at the first call. Just over a month later in the seven-furlong Woody Stephens Stakes (gr. II), Teuflesberg stumbled at the start, but recovered in time to score by two lengths. Second in the Carry Back Stakes (gr. II) and the Glow Stakes—trying turf for the first time—Teuflesberg was fourth to Hard Spun, First Defence (TrueNicks,SRO), and E Z Warrior in the King's Bishop Stakes (gr. I), then broke down badly in the Phoenix Stakes (gr. III).

Retired to stud, first in Kentucky and now standing at Journeyman Stud in Ocala, Florida, Teuflesberg had only 26 named foals in his first crop, but they include not only Trinniberg, but also the stakes-placed horses Logan's Peak and Not an Altar Boy. In addition to the toughness and speed which is evident in his race record, Teuflesberg does also bring a rather intriguing pedigree to the table. By Johannesburg—champion 2-year-old in both Europe and the U.S. and sire of last year's leading freshman, Scat Daddy—Teuflesberg has as his second dam the Mr. Prospector mare Line. She is out of Border, a half sister to Narrate, making Line a three-parts-sister to Yarn (by Mr. Prospector out of Narrate), who is the granddam of Johannesburg (not to mention also being the dam of Tale of the Cat (TrueNicks,SRO) and a sister to the dam of Pulpit (TrueNicks,SRO)), so Teuflesberg has the three-parts-sisters 3x2.

Trinniberg's dam, the minor stakes-placed Bella Dorato, brings third cross of Mr. Prospector into the mix, as she is by the Crafty Prospector horse Goldminers Gold, a listed stakes-wininng sprinter. Bella Dorato's granddam, Witchkin, a daughter of Salem (by Cyane), has already demonstrated some affinity for elements of Teuflesberg's pedigree, as she is dam of four stakes-placed horses, including the Kentucky Stakes (gr. III) third Dream of Kaylee (by Cactus Ridge (TrueNicks,SRO), a son of Johannesburg's sire, Hennessy) and Jovanna (by Minardi, who is out of Yarn, who as we've said is not only granddam of Johannesburg, but three-parts-sister to Line, the granddam of Teuflesberg). Trinniberg's third and fourth dams could do no better than to produce a minor stakes-placed horse apiece, so it is not until we reach the fifth dam, Scuttlebut, that we find a prior stakes winner in the female line. The most recent performer of real class to arise from the direct female was in fact a Kentucky Derby winner, however, the horse in question, Cavalcade, took the race in 1934, and was a half brother to Trinniberg's seventh dam.

Trinniberg is TrueNicks rated C+ on the basis of the widely-tried cross of Johannesburg and his sons with mares by Mr. Prospector and his sons and grandsons, which has produced 14 other stakes winners, including Scat Daddy and the graded scorers Eaton's Gift (TrueNicks), Phola, Hamoody, Daddy Nose Best (another whole be shooting for classic glory in this year's Derby), Baroness Thatcher, La Traviata, and African Skies. In addition to three crosses of Mr. Prospector, Trinniberg also has the three-quarters related Storm Cat and Secreto in the fourth generation of his pedigree. From the stamina aspect, if we look at his TrueNicks Enhanced Report we see that the average winning distance for colts bred on the cross is 6.76 furlongs, significantly lower than both the average distance raced, and the average distance of the winners produced the the sire line and broodmare sire line when bred to all other stallions. At the risk of stating the obvious, given his pedigree and the aptitude he's shown to date, it is extremely unlikely that Trinniberg will stay much beyond a mile even if he does get loose on the lead, and one hopes that (a) he does not unduly influence the outcome of the classic, and (b) that like his sire, he can rebound from what will probably be a taxing effort and make his name in the sprint ranks.

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