Tag Archives: Triple Crown

Factoring Pedigree – 2016 Belmont Stakes Contenders

Pedigree is perhaps the most important factor in analyzing a horse's ability to navigate the testing 12 furlongs of the Belmont Stakes. Here are pedigree snapshots of this year's Belmont contenders:

Sire: Curlin (Progeny average winning distance (AWD): 7.59 furlongs)
American Triple Crown race winners in pedigree*: Curlin, Seattle Slew, Northern Dancer
Like his sire, Exaggerator is a Preakness Stakes winner who is competing in all three Triple Crown races. Curlin finished a close second to the A. P. Indy filly Rags to Riches in the 2007 Belmont Stakes and is the sire of 2012 Belmont winner Palace Malice. Exaggerator is out of a mare by Vindication, a grandson of American Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew out of a great-granddaughter of English Triple Crown winner Nijinsky II.

Sire: Giant's Causeway (Progeny AWD: 8.74 furlongs)
American Triple Crown race winners in pedigree: Secretariat, Bold Ruler
Giant's Causeway has the longest progeny average winning distance of any sire in this year's Belmont Stakes field. No surprise there as many Giant's Causeway's face the starter in Europe where distance racing is still prevalent (and relevant). Destin's dam was a 9-furlong Grade 1 winner and is by a 10-furlong Grade 1 winner Siberian Summer. Her dam is by Breeders' Cup Classic champ Skywalker. Destin is a full brother to Creative Cause, who finished 5th in the Kentucky Derby and 3rd in the Preakness.

Sire: Mineshaft (Progeny AWD:7.34 furlongs)
American Triple Crown race winners in pedigree: A. P. Indy, Seattle Slew, Secretariat, Bold Ruler, Afleet Alex
His late-running style suggests he'll run to the moon and back and so does his pedigree. He's by Mineshaft, a son of Belmont winner A. P. Indy who was twice a Grade 1 winner at 10 furlongs in his Horse of the Year season. Suddenbreakingnews' dam, Uchitel, was winless in three starts but is daughter of Afleet Alex, the last runner to complete the Preakness/Belmont double.

Sire: Tapit (Progeny AWD: 7.50 furlongs)
American Triple Crown race winners in pedigree: A. P. Indy, Seattle Slew, Secretariat, Damascus, Summing, Northern Dancer (x2)
“You get a lot of comfort from his pedigree and how much stay is in his pedigree.” That quote comes from trainer Steve Asmussen. Aside from being a son of the A. P. Indy grandson Tapit, his dam is the tough mare Morena, a 12-furlong Group 1 winner in her native Peru before placing in five U. S. graded races. Morena is a granddaughter of distance influence Private Account, a son of Preakness winner Damascus. Her dam is by Belmont winner Summing.

Click here to watch Belmont Stakes contender race replays on the Betmix YouTube channel

Sire: Medaglia d'Oro (Progeny AWD: 7.63 furlongs)
American Triple Crown race winners in pedigree: Damascus, Seattle Slew, Northern Dancer
As a son of El Prado and grandson of the great European stallion Sadler's Wells, Medgalia d'Oro sires runners more than capable at Classic distances. This is evidenced by his progeny's average winning distance, a healthy 7.63. Stradivari's dam, however, was a straight one-turn runner and you have to back to the fourth generation of her pedigree to find any distance/Classic influences.

Brody's Cause
Sire: Giant's Causeway (Progeny AWD: 8.74 furlongs)
American Triple Crown race winners in pedigree: Secretariat, Bold Ruler, Northern Dancer, Majestic Prince
Like Destin, Brody's Cause is a son of Giant's Causeway. The female side of his pedigree shows a nice blend of speed and stamina. His dam, Sweet Breana, placed in two of the three Canadian Filly Triple Crown races. She's bred on the Mr. Prospector/Roberto cross, Roberto being an Epsom Darby winner and top North American distance influence. Her pedigree also shows Sadler's Wells and Majestic Prince, who fell just short of the 1969 Triple Crown with a 2nd place finish in the Belmont Stakes.

Cherry Wine
Sire: Paddy O'Prado (Progeny AWD: 7.45 furlongs, one crop/35 winners)
American Triple Crown race winners in pedigree: Unbridled, Northern Dancer
Cherry Wine is from the first crop of Paddy O'Prado who, like Medaglia d'Oro, is a son of El Prado and grandson of Sadler's Wells. Paddy O'Prado ran third in Super Saver's Kentucky Derby before going on to become a 10-furlong Grade 1 winner on the turf. His dam, C. S. Royce, won her only two races on the grass and it's a good bet that Cherry Wine will ultimately find the most success on the lawn. C. S. Rouce is a granddaughter of 1990 Kentucky Derby hero Unbridled, but her pedigree is otherwise stacked with speed influences.

Sire: Tapit (Progeny AWD: 7.50 furlongs)
American Triple Crown race winners in pedigree: A. P. Indy, Seattle Slew, Secretariat, Unbridled, Sunday Silence, Northern Dancer (x2)
Tapit is the sire of 2013 Belmont winner Tonalist and Lani shows a trio of Kentucky Derby winners in his pedigree to go with three Belmont winners. If the quirky colt fails in the Belmont Stakes it won't be because of his pedigree.

Governor Malibu
Sire: Malibu Moon (Progeny AWD: 7.09 furlongs)
Triple Crown race winners in pedigree: A. P. Indy, Seattle Slew, Secretariat, Easy Goer, Bold Ruler, Northern Dancer
For a son of A. P. Indy, Malibu Moon's progeny average winning distance of 7.09 is a little light. He is, however, the sire of 2012 Kentucky Derby winner Orb, who finished 3rd in the Belmont. Governor Malibu is out of a daughter of the Danzig stallion Langhfuhr, both speed influences, but his third dam is by 1989 Belmont winner Easy Goer.

Sire: Pioneerof the Nile (Progeny AWD: 7.47 furlongs)
Triple Crown race winners in pedigree: Empire Maker, Unbridled, Northern Dancer, Bold Ruler, A. P. Indy, Seattle Slew, Secretariat, Conquistador Cielo
Gettysburg is a late addition to the Belmont Stakes to help ensure a reasonable pace. He is owned by WinStar Farm who have major interests in a pair of late-running Belmont contenders. Creator is owned by WinStar and Exaggerator will reside in the WinStar stallion barn upon retirement. Just a staked-placed runner, Gettysburg may be a cut below on form but his pedigree is well-suited to the race as there are five Belmont winners, two Derby winners & a Preakness champ in the first five generations of his pedigree. Oh and he's also a son of Pioneerof the Nile, sire of a certain 2015 Triple Crown winner.

Wild About Deb
Sire: Eskendereya (Progeny AWD: NA/in South Korea)
Triple Crown race winners in pedigree: Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Northern Dancer (x2)
The Peter Pan Stakes 3rd-place finisher is by Florida Derby (G1) winner Eskendereya, a son of Giant's Causeway. Eskendereya couldn't quite get over the hump as a sire and was exported to South Korea. His dam, Smarty Deb, was a multiple stakes winner at Emerald Downs. She's a daughter of Smart Strike (sire of Curlin, etc.) and her second dam is by the first Breeders' Cup Classic winner, Wild Again.

Trojan Nation
Street Cry (Progeny AWD: NA/deceased)
Triple Crown race winners in pedigree: Summer Squall, Secretariat, Bold Ruler, Northern Dancer (x2)
"We think the horse has talent and he's bred to go the distance" - co-owner Aaron Sones. While Trojan Nation's talent could be called into question (he's never won a race) the assertion that he's bred for a Classic distance cannot. He's a son of Street Cry, sire of the likes of Zenyatta and Derby winner Street Sense. His dam, Storm Song, was named champion at two after winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. She's a daughter of 1990 Preakness winner Summer Squall, a half-brother to A. P. Indy.

Forever d'Oro
Sire: Medaglia d'Oro (Progeny AWD: 7.63 furlongs)
American Triple Crown race winners in pedigree: Lemon Drop Kid, Damascus, Seattle Slew, Northern Dancer
With just a nose Maiden victory on the ledger Forever d'Oro will be one of the longest shots in the 2016 Belmont. He's a son of distance influence Medaglia d'Oro out of Kentucky Oaks winner Lemons Forever, a daughter of 1999 Belmont Stakes champ Lemon Drop Kid. Lemons Forever has been a fantastic producer for breeder Charles Fipke. She's the dam of a pair of Grade 1 winners from her first four foals, Unbridled Forever (the 7-furlong Ballerina Stakes) and Forever Unbridled (the 9-furlong Apple Blossom Stakes).

Seeking the Soul
Sire: Perfect Soul (Progeny AWD: 7.58 furlongs)
American Triple Crown race winners in pedigree: Secretariat, Monarchos, Damascus, Bold Ruler
Like Forever d'Oro, Seeking the Soul is a Charles Fipke homebred trained by Dallas Stewart. This team ran 2nd in last year's Preakness at 28-1 with Tale of Verve, a son of the Fipke-owned stallion Tale of Ekati. They also teamed up with Golden Soul, a son of Perfect Soul, to run 2nd in the 2013 Kentucky Derby. Perfect Soul is a son of Sadler's Wells out of a daughter of Secretariat. His biggest wins on the track were middle-distance turf events and he's yet to hit it big at stud. Mr. Fipke is no doubt encouraged by his recent Classic successes and is seeking to further bolster his breeding program by putting Forever d'Oro and Seeking the Soul in the Belmont Stakes crosshairs.

*five generation pedigree

Stay tuned for new Betmix pedigree research features that will allow subscribers to quickly analyze a sire's tendencies!


Triple Crown Contender Profile – Nyquist

Despite an unblemished record at two and an Eclipse Award trophy on his mantle, Nyquist has had to earn the respect of many racing fans the hard way. His performances in the February 15 San Vicente Stakes (G2) and the April 2 Florida Derby (G2) now send him to the Spring Classics as the most accomplished unbeaten colt since Seattle Slew in 1977. How's that for respect?

In both his 2016 starts Nyquist seemingly had formidable foes to deal with. The speedy multiple graded winner Exaggerator awaited in the San Vicente and while the previously unbeaten multiple graded stakes winner Mohaymen had the home track advantage in the Florida Derby. Nyquist dispatched both colts with ease.

Exaggerator's trainer Keith Desormeaux, for one, was duly impressed.

"Goodness gracious," Desormeaux, said after the race. "Anybody not a believer in Nyquist now—that was an awesome race. To set those kinds of fractions and still finish in close to track record time for a 3-year-old in February? Wow. Hat's off to Nyquist."

Perhaps a narrow, wire-to-wire debut win in a 5F Maiden Special in early June is one of the reasons Nyquist has had an uphill battle to prove his quality and two-turn acumen. Many horses that race that early and that well at that distance don't train on to be serious Classics contenders. But he was certainly impressive in sweeping the subsequent 6.5F Best Pal Stakes (G2) and the 7F Del Mar Futurity (G1) last summer by a combined nine lengths.

Despite a victory in his two-turn debut, the FrontRunner Stakes (G1), the effort was largely panned by racing observers, this one included, as too slow on the teletimer and too pedestrian to the naked eye.

Post 13. Two bumps shortly after the break. At least five-wide on both turns. Those are all things Nyquist overcame in his Breeders' Cup Juvenile victory in which his believers were rewarded with a nearly 5-1 payoff on the undefeated colt. His fellow Californian Swipe ran a close second, further confirming the 2015 West Coast juvenile division form.

No matter how impressive the body of work a horse accumulates one season, there is always some question whether we see a better or worse version of the animal the following year. Nyquist has proved any doubts to be folly with his two impressive 2016 victories. With his Florida Derby score, Nyquist has now won Grade 1 races from 7 furlongs to a mile and one eighth and have been victorious over four different racetracks all over the country.

Nyquist is by the young sire sensation Uncle Mo, also an unbeaten Breeders' Cup Juvenile and Eclipse Award champion. We never got to see Uncle Mo's full potential as a runner as illness derailed his Classics aspirations and he was kept to one-turn events when he did make it back to the races in late summer of his sophomore season. Uncle Mo does descend from more of a middle distance sire-line. His sire, Indian Charlie won the Santa Anita Derby and placed third to Real Quiet and Victory Gallop in the 1998 Derby. Nyquist's grandsire, In Excess, won races like the Met Mile as well as the Suburban Handicap when that was race still a mile and a quarter. Uncle Mo is out of a mare by the Roberto grandson Arch, so there is some stamina influence there.

On the other side of the pedigree, Nyquist's dam, Seeking Gabrielle, is by Forestry out of a daughter of Seeking the Gold, two sires who on occasion sired Classic types but are more widely regarded as speed influences.

Nyquist was purchased by Reddam Racing last March at the Fasig-Tipton Two-Year-Old in Training sale for $400,000. That sale has produced other current Classics contenders like Los Alamitos Futurity/Robert B. Lewis Stakes winner Mor Spirit, impressive Maiden & Allowance winner Zulu and Mucho Macho Man Stakes winner Awesome Speed.

Largely because of a $1 million bonus offered to a graduate of that sale who also wins this year's Florida Derby, Nyquist is targeted Gulfstream Park's signature race. Time will tell if he'll join Monarchos (2001), Barbaro (2006), Big Brown (2008) and Orb (2013) as Florida Derby/Kentucky Derby winners this century.

Triple Crown Contender Profile – Mohaymen

The superlatives began flying around Gulfstream Park (and the internet) the second Mohaymen crossed the finish line in the January 30 Holy Bull Stakes (G2). And with good reason. The Kiaran McLaughlin pupil didn't have an easy go of it yet still drew off under a hand ride to score by 3 1/2 lengths.

"He took my breath away," McLaughlin said of his perfect 4-for4 colt after the race.

“Just chills up and down the back. He’s just really good," added Shadwell Farm Racing Manager Rick Nichols.

Those impressions were confirmed four weeks later with his powerful score over Zulu in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth.

Watch the Fountain of Youth Stakes

But his flop in the April 2 Florida Derby left his connections and many racing pundits scratching their heads. Handicappers will have to decide if his fourth-place run to Nyquist, while wide and over a drying-out track he many not have handled, can be forgiven. His previous form was certainly outstanding.

Moyahmen showed good adaptability in his three juvenile victories in 2015, including a pair of graded triumphs in the Nashua Stakes (G3) and Remsen Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct. In the Remsen, in particular, he was faced with a narrow opening between two rivals at the top of the stretch, showing good courage and acceleration to burst through to daylight.

The roan colt found himself in a similar situation in the Holy Bull Stakes, this time on the backstretch, where he was purposely bottled up by a trio of rivals including John Velasquez on second choice Greenpointcrusader. But Mohaymen once again used a tactical burst to extricate himself from a potential trap. As soon as he was in the clear he relaxed back for rider Junior Alvarado for another furlong before bounding away in-hand from Greenpointcrusader down the stretch.

"I just waited and waited to see what Johnny (Velazquez aboard Greenpointcrusader) was going to do," Alvarado recounted in a post-race interview. "He left me a little room, but sometimes that can be a little trap. I just waited and waited and then it got to a point where he didn't come inside and the horse in front was backing up, so I said, 'I've got the best horse. It's time to be making my own move. After that it was pretty much over."

In the past 24 years only Sea Hero (1993), Thunder Gulch (1996), Giacomo (2005) and Mine That Bird (2009) finished off-the-board in their final Derby preps. Thunder Gulch may prove to the most comparable to Mohaymen. The D. Wayne Lukas-trainee made a successful run through the Gulfstream Park three-year-old series before a faltering fourth over a tricky Keeneland surface in the Bluegrass Stakes.

On the plus side for Mohaymen, he's a $2.2 million yearling so you can bet he has exceptional looks and conformation. His pedigree is flawless too for a Classics contender, being a son of North America's top sire Tapit, a grandson of 1992 Belmont Stakes/Breeders' Cup Classic champion A. P. Indy. The Tapits can excel on any surface and at any distance. His 2013 Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist, who also captured the Met Mile, is a good example of that versatility.

Mohaymen is certainly in good hands with Lexington, Kentucky native Kiarin McLaughlin, who has been battling MS for the past couple decades. He is right up there on the list of the best trainers who have yet to win a Derby. He came close in 2005 with Closing Argument, a desperate neck shy of Giacomo, and had a good one last year in 4th-place finisher Frosted. For that reason alone, if Mohaymen should wear the roses on May 7, there won't be many racing industry folks upset with the result.


Triple Crown Contender Profile – Discreetness

The Oaklawn Park route to the Triple Crown has been extremely fruitful in recent years with the likes of Smarty Jones, Afleet Alex, Curlin, Super Saver and American Pharoah all passing through Hot Springs on the way to at least one Classic victory.

The folks at Oaklawn named the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes on January 18 after the horse who got the party started in 2004 and it was won in fine fashion by Discreetness.

Trained by midwest veteran William H. 'Jinks' Fires (who won the Arkansas Derby in 2011 with Archarcharch), Discreetness was unplaced in his first two stakes attempts as a juvenile. He could manage only a sixth-place finish after a slow start in the Arlington-Washington Futurity (G3) and checked in fourth as the favorite in the November 1 Street Sense Stakes won by eventual LeComte Stakes hero Mo Tom.

Sent off at nearly 10-1 in the rich Remington Springboard Mile in mid-December, Discreetness rebounded with a brave nose victory over Suddenbreakingnews and the favored California invader Esposito from the Tom Proctor barn.

Another California hotshot was sent off favored in the Smarty Jones, the odds-on Bob Baffert pupil Toews on Ice. Those bettors that took the 9-1 offer on Discreetness were rewarded with another dramatic victory in the one mile event.

Under Jon Court, Discreetness worked out a clean stalking trip behind Toews on Ice and Gordy Florida in the Smarty Jones. The latter appeared to be moving best of all around the far turn with Discreetness under heavy pressure from Court (with Toews on Ice readily fading). At the eighth pole Discreetness engaged Gordy Florida from the outside and Court put the whip away allowing his charge to earn the victory on his own, which he accomplished by a measured neck.

"Jon and I had talked before the race," Fires said of the short stretch run in one-mile races at Oaklawn. "Going a mile here, if you're not first, second, or third at the three-eighths pole it's hard to make up ground, so we decided to ask him a little early."

Discreetness gets speed from both sides of his pedigree. He's a son of Cigar Mile (G1) winner Discreet Cat, who also won a 9-furlong edition of the U. A. E. Derby (G2) by six lengths. He's out of an unraced daughter of the ultra-quick Elusive Quality (sire of Smarty Jones).

Speed may serve Discreetness well again in the Southwest Stakes (on February 19) and/or the Rebel Stakes (March 9) before the distance waters get a little deeper in the Arkansas Derby three weeks before the first Saturday in May. History has shown if he can be a factor in that one he'd merit a long look at the windows in the Triple Crown series.