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Kentucky Derby 139 Pedigrees Examined

Now that post positions are set, what are your opinions on the Kentucky Derby this year? Below are some of my thoughts along with links to video of recent workouts and complimentary TrueNicks Enhanced Reports for each entrant in post position order.

1. Black Onyx (50-1)

Black Onyx follows a similar form line to Animal Kingdom, who also prepped in a Gulfstream turf allowance before winning the Spiral Stakes (gr. III). But while Animal Kingdom handled the Churchill dirt beautifully in his pre-Derby work, Black Onyx wasn't nearly as smooth. He comes from a distance-oriented sire line, but the Derby isn't just about the distance. TrueNicks

2. Oxbow (30-1)

Bred similarly to Paynter, who nearly won the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) last year, Oxbow figures to be involved in the early pace breaking from post 2. The dam is a full sister to Tiznow (TrueNicks,SRO), who won the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) at Churchill Downs in 2000 just like Oxbow's sire, Awesome Again (TrueNicks,SRO), did in 1998. Needless to say, he's got plenty of pedigree for 10 furlongs at Churchill, but Oxbow will need to relax in the Derby, something he hasn't done in training this week. TrueNicks

3. Revolutionary (10-1)

Look at the produce record for the 19-year-old A.P. Indy mare Runup the Colors and you'll see she's had frustrating career as a broodmare. But the 1997 Alabama Stakes (gr. I, 10 furlongs) winner has finally bred a classic contender in Revolutionary. Sire War Pass, who was a miler himself, has two runners in this Derby out of stoutly-bred mares, and Revolutionary has the strongest dirt pedigree and form. TrueNicks

4. Golden Soul (50-1)

This will be the second longshot Derby starter for the Mr. Prospector mare Hollywood Gold (Quintons Gold Rush, 18th in 2004). Sire Perfect Soul (IRE) (TrueNicks,SRO) reinforces the stamina-oriented female family, and if Golden Soul can get a strong enough pace, he might get involved in the exotics. Note that he ran well at Churchill Downs in his debut. TrueNicks

5. Normandy Invasion (12-1)

This Tapit (TrueNicks,SRO) colt has shown repeatedly that he can close into a slow pace, so it might seem he would improve in a strongly-run Derby. He has looked solid at Churchill this week, but on pedigree 10 furlongs is asking a lot. He will need a well-timed ride. TrueNicks

6. Mylute (15-1)

As Alan Porter noted, sire Midnight Lute (TrueNicks,SRO) is siring truer to the stamina of his pedigree than his record as a sprinter. Additionally, Mylute's dam, although by sprinter Valid Expectations, won or placed in six stakes from 8-8.5 furlongs. While Mylute has made a nice showing this week, he flattens out at the end of his races, a characteristic that doesn't bode well for Derby Day. TrueNicks

7. Giant Finish (50-1)

This Frost Giant (TrueNicks,SRO) colt certainly appears overmatched, but he is improving and did run a determined race in the Spiral. Interestingly, Crafty C. T., a sprinter from Giant Finish's immediate family, ran a pair of tough races in grade I company—a second in the Santa Anita Derby and third in the Met Mile. TrueNicks

8. Goldencents (5-1)

Goldencents wouldn't be the first Kentucky Derby winner from this blue-collar Canadian family, as 1983 winner Sunny's Halo is under the fifth dam. Second dam Body Works finished on-the-board in 35 of 45 races, winning 18 times from four to nine furlongs, including five stakes. Add the class of upstart sire Into Mischief (TrueNicks,SRO) and you've got Goldencents, who was certainly not made to be a true 10-furlong horse but on gameness and talent could get the job done. TrueNicks

9. Overanalyze (15-1)

Alan Porter's blog on Overanalyze gives a very good rundown of this colt's pedigree, and I'd agree that, on paper, he's got enough to win the Kentucky Derby. He might not be fast enough, but he is improving at the right time, which was evidenced in his exceptional April 27 work, where he looked sharp against the blinkered Palace Malice. TrueNicks

10. Palace Malice (20-1)

A son of Curlin (TrueNicks,SRO) from the family of overachieving Rail Trip, Palace Malice figures to improve with more distance and maturity, but it's hard to imagine him finally breaking through in the toughest of races. There's enough stamina in the pedigree to help him compete for a spot in the superfecta. TrueNicks

11. Lines of Battle (30-1)

Lines of Battle is a Claiborne Farm cross of War Front (TrueNicks,SRO) and Arch (TrueNicks,SRO). An Arch mare gave us last year's Derby winner, I'll Have Another, but this Arch mare, Black Speck, is a half sister to Dynaformer. Lines of Battle's half brother Blue Exit ran second in the Strub Stakes (gr. II) on dirt at Santa Anita. It would be a surprise for this colt to contend in his first try on dirt, but the trainer did run fifth two years ago with Master of Hounds. TrueNicks

12. Itsmyluckyday (15-1)

Itsmyluckyday has looked awesome this week, but looks don't get you an extra quarter-mile. Lawyer Ron turned out to be a quality sire of primarily milers, and there are plenty of nice stakes horses in the family, but, again, they are milers. It would be nice to see this talented colt in grade I races like the King's Bishop and Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile later in the year. TrueNicks

13. Falling Sky (50-1)

Falling Sky's best race was a wire-to-wire win in the Sam F. Davis Stakes (gr. III), and he'll try those same tactics here. By Lion Heart (TrueNicks) from a sprinting family, it would be a shock to see Falling Sky close at the finish. TrueNicks

14. Verrazano (4-1)

Verrazano, whose breeder we profiled last year, will be the second Derby starter in as many foals from his dam Enchanted Rock (El Padrino, 13th). You have to respect the sire More Than Ready (TrueNicks,SRO), but like his older half brother did, Verrazano gives the impression that he was better earlier in the year. TrueNicks

15. Charming Kitten (20-1)

Kitten's Joy (TrueNicks,SRO) is again represented in the Kentucky Derby, this time with Charming Kitten, who is coming off a good third in the Blue Grass (gr. I). Neither Charming Kitten nor his stakes-winning full brother Queen'splatekitten have ever run on dirt; Queen'splatekitten was best at a mile on turf, which is probably also Charming Kitten's real forte. TrueNicks

16. Orb (7-2)

After seven grade I-winning fillies and a 2-year-old champion gelding, it's nice to see Orb proving that Malibu Moon (TrueNicks,SRO) can indeed sire a top colt. Orb is from an offshoot of a great family (Ruffian, Icecapade, Private Terms, Coronado's Quest), but both first and second dams were just a cut below top level on the racetrack—plenty of stamina, but not fast enough for grade I company. Orb looks the part, but is he fast enough to win the Derby? TrueNicks

17. Will Take Charge (20-1)

Just like sire Unbridled's Song (TrueNicks,SRO), the largest stallion in Kentucky, Will Take Charge is huge. Consequently, he covers a lot of ground. His dam, multiple grade I-winning Take Charge Lady, was second here in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) and has already produced grade I winner Take Charge Indy. The 17 post looks favorable, keeping this big guy out of traffic and allowing him to make his preferred off-the-pace run. TrueNicks

18. Frac Daddy (50-1)

Frac Daddy, by Scat Daddy (TrueNicks,SRO), has seemingly cycled back into form and is returning to the site of two of his best races, a nine-length maiden win and a hard-fought second in the Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. II). The dam is by Skip Away, and the second dam won the 10-furlong Delaware Handicap (gr. III), so there's a bit of stamina in the family. TrueNicks

19. Java's War (15-1)

A hard-trying colt who has performed admirably on turf, dirt, and synthetic, Java's War is an interesting pedigree blend: the dam is a full sister to champion grass mare Fiji, who was best at age 4 going 10 furlongs on turf; and the sire is champion 2-year-old War Pass, who was best at a mile on dirt. The average of those aptitudes would be a 3-year-old going nine furlongs on synthetic, which is exactly what Java's War did when winning the Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I). Watching his training at Churchill, he has high action reminiscent of a turf or synthetic horse, and doesn't seem to be embracing the Churchill dirt like he did at Tampa. TrueNicks

20. Vyjack (15-1)

Post 20 welcomes this talented Into Mischief gelding in his first venture outside Aqueduct. While this is a sprinting family—the dam is a half sister to the quick Disco Rico (TrueNicks,SRO), and deeper in the family is champion sprinter Smoke Glacken (TrueNicks,SRO)—Vyjack's half brother Prime Cut (by Bernstein) managed to place in the Coolmore Lexington (gr. III) and Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II). That being said, 10 furlongs does seem beyond Vyjack's range and he's looked just OK training this week. TrueNicks

AE. Fear the Kitten (50-1)

Another Kitten's Joy colt, Fear the Kitten is a deep closer and would appreciate a torrid pace (which is not expected) should he draw into the field. The pedigree looks like turf at first glance, but Fear the Kitten's best form has been on dirt. The dam is by Dynaformer, which would help get the 10-furlong trip. TrueNicks

For more pedigree analysis, check out the Triple Crown 2013 Pedigree Profiles from The Blood-Horse.

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