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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.


It certainly tickled my fancy when I heard he was to run....uh oh....the "spoiler"?.....or could he somehow pull it off....this year's KD has such an evenly matched field. although there are some with more of what it takes than others...it will keep you on the edge of your seat, that's for sure....I was really hard put to choose my four....even though I can't bet, living here in Hawaii, but....it's always fun!!!

mary wilia, Honolulu 03 May 2012 1:12 PM

Nice article. Without Trinniberg in this Derby the race would be up for stealing on the front end by either Bodemeister, Hansen or Take Charge Indy. "Trinni" will ensure a truly run race from start to finish and he does have some stamina influences not too far back in the pedigree that could carry him a far way.

Ranagulzion 03 May 2012 1:12 PM


The speed orientation of Trinniberg's pedigree is very obvious but could you comment on the chances of stamina being inherited via Herbager, Secreto, Dunce and Never Bend, not to mention inbreeding to Secretariat/Princequillo?

You mentioned the average winning distance being 6.76 furlongs for colts bred on similar crosses as 'Trinni' but since coming to hand this season his two wins in the Swale and Bayshore respectively have been with consumate ease, with the colt running fast without being asked by his jock and galloping out like he wants more ground. Could he be carrying 10 furlongs stamina incognito?

Ranagulzion 03 May 2012 3:53 PM

When he's done, he better quietly hug the rail with his tail between his legs. We don't need any interference in this race!

tjconway 03 May 2012 7:17 PM

Neat article.

I think the race had a better chance to be "truly run" without the presence of Trinniberg-there was enough speed, stalkers, and closers without him. Horses aren't always placed true to their jockeys' desires, but if they were here, I can imagine a scenario where Trinniberg (should he allow) could be left alone on the lead-even at very slow fractions. Should such a scenario transpire (but doubt that it will), this would indeed make for an UNtruly run race. Wonder if his connections are plotting the same?  

sceptre 03 May 2012 11:11 PM


Trinniberg running very slow fractions wouldn't be a smart strategy because that would empower his pacey rivals, Bodemeister, Hansen and Take Charge Indy (more confirmed stayers) without giving him the separation and energy-level advantage he needs to outrun them after the first half-mile. Trinniberg's higher cruising speed his his main weapon. There's no chance that those rivals will allow slow fractions anyway. Think again Pal.

Ranagulzion 04 May 2012 1:21 PM


I've seen situations where the same mating has produced very different horses with regard to aptitude, and like most pedigrees, there are some more stoutly-bred strains in the background here.

However, in this particular case very little of that stamina seems to have been transmitted to Trinniberg's immediate ancestors. The second thing is, we always have to look at the horse himself. In the case of Trinniberg, if the genetics that would make for elite performance at ten furlongs  been transmitted, it would have been INSTEAD of not AS WELL as those that enable him to blaze out a sub :21 opening quarter, and do a pretty good impression of the fastest three-year-old colt around. Or put in human terms, you don't get to be Usain Bolt AND a world-class marathon runner.


It's very possible that everyone goes contrarian, and all take back off Trinniberg, but I'm going to guess that with some quality speed that's looking pretty sharp in training - Hansen and Bodemeister for two - one has to suspect that they are going to get sucked into going out just a fraction too quick.

I may look stupid in just over 24 hours time, but I think it's hard to envision Trinniberg being able to run 10 furlongs in racehorse time under any circumstances, whereas one might have just about have imagined Hansen - a class horse who is effective at 8 1/2  furlongs, but whom I suspect wants no part of 10 furlongs - getting loose and staggering him.

Alan Porter 04 May 2012 3:23 PM

I don't understand the reference to Never Bend/stamina?...Never Bend was speed[Florida bred ?]...Bodeimeister had no challenge for the lead. Connections of Trinni ritely did not abuse horse. Bodemeister will have speed to contend with in the Preakness, and I unlike Randy Moss do not think 'Bode will have a cake[crab] walk in the Black Eyed Susan!

nickie 06 May 2012 1:30 PM


The stallion, Never Bend, in Trinniberg's pedigree was a famous Kentucky bred that was a 2YO champion, winner of the Champagne Stakes, finished 2nd in the Kentucky derby, 3rd in the Preakness and sired one of the all time great turf racers, Mill Reef, winner of the Epsom Derby and Prix del Arc d' Triomphe.

Ranagulzion 06 May 2012 11:19 PM

There are people actually blaming Mike Smith for Bodemeister losing the Derby, imagine that. When Trinniberg entered the race, I knew Hansen was in trouble and I suspected Bode could be, well both of them were like pit bulls chasing a pussy cat on a hot tin roof and there you have it, the whole story. I think Hansen is going to have to race at a shorter distance if he is ever going to see the winner's circle again. I said from the start, the good doctor should've skipped the Derby and shot for the Preakness with a rested horse. Well, I'm sure the white pony is anything but rested now. He may as well give the horse a vacation and start him off again as a miler, because I think that's what he is. I hope Dr. Hansen doesn't even think about the Belmont. If he does, he's a few fries short of a happy meal.

ksweatman9 07 May 2012 8:47 AM


Your skepticism re-the inference that Never Bend was/is a stamina influence is well founded. Never Bend is certainly not a stamina influence-he is, if anything, a source of brilliance-true to the racehorse he was (not that all sires sire to their aptitudes). I remember him well, attended many of his races, including his Preakness, and unlike Nashua, was a true *Nasrullah-type in "style" and aptitude. His tended to sire true to his "type", and most had brilliance and quality that could stretch. Mill Reef was loaded with quality, and a lovely type-as were many of the Never Bends-, but he was out of a stouty bred mare which on this occasion enabled him to be successful at 12 f. I attended his Arc, and he was by far best (at 12f) that day. Mill Reef did become an influence for stamina, but here this a a very good example where sometimes the dam dominates the aptitude.    

sceptre 07 May 2012 11:16 AM

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