Pedigree Handicapping – Sire Performance at Churchill Downs

Handicappers have heard the adage 'horses for courses' to signify a thoroughbred that seems to run best over a certain racetrack. But what about 'sires for courses'?

Since Betmix Angler features stallion data we can attempt to answer that question. With Kentucky Derby 144 on the horizon we took a look at the sires of this year's prospective runners to see how their progeny have performed on the main track at Churchill Downs (since 2012). The full results, sorted by Win %, are shown in the chart below.

The Storm Cat grandson Creative Cause (sire of My Boy Jack) leads the way narrowly over Into Mischief (Audible), a Storm Cat great grandson. Creative Cause has only two full crops on the track currently so his sample is limited, but still encouraging. This seems legitimate as he performed reasonably well under the Twin Spires during his racing career, finishing 3rd in the 2011 Breeders' Cup Juvenile (behind Hansen and Union Rags) and 5th in I'll Have Another's Kentucky Derby the following spring. His sire, the great Giant's Causeway, ran Tiznow to the wire in that dramatic 2000 Breeders' Cup Classic in Louisville. Into Mischief raced exclusively in California but his sire, Harlan's Holiday, was based in Louisville during his early career with trainer Kenny McPeek and captured the 2001 Iroquois S. (G3) at Churchill during his juvenile season. He later finished 7th as the favorite in the '02 Derby.

Awesome Again ranks third in progeny Win % over the track on which he conquered one of the best Breeders' Cup Classic fields ever assembled in 1998.

Creative Cause and Into Mischief are among the four stallions whose progeny have produced flat win bet profits on the Churchill main course over the past several seasons. Arch (Instilled Regard) and Take Charge Indy (Noble Indy), whose oldest runners are three-year-olds, are the others.

Younger or regional stallions like Lucky Pulpit (sire of California Chrome), Uncle Mo (Nyquist) and Bodemeister (Always Dreaming) have sired the past few Kentucky Derby champions so finding reliable past test samples of this approach to Derby handicapping is a little tricky. However, the Bodemeister runners had produced a $6.80 flat bet win profit (2 winners from 15 starters or 13.3%) and Pioneerof the Nile had sired 19.4% winners at Churchill ($18.40 flat bet win profit) prior to American Pharoah kicking off his Triple Crown tour in the 2015 Kentucky Derby.