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For this week's Making the Grade blog, we take a look at the pedigrees of the Kentucky Derby field to try and answer which horses will be at their best at the 1 1/4-mile distance of the Kentucky Derby.

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1. Black Onyx

Black Onyx Pedigree

Spiral Stakes winner Black Onyx is from the fourth crop of 2004 Preakness runner-up Rock Hard Ten, a behemoth of a horse who was a Grade 1 winner at seven-eighths of a mile and 1 ¼ miles. Grade 1 winner Nereid and multiple graded stakes winner Doubles Partner are Rock Hard Ten’s best runners to date and both recorded their most important wins on grass. While Rock Hard Ten was a force on the main track, he hails from the Roberto sire line that is better known for its standouts on turf than dirt.

Black Onyx’s dam (mother) posted two of her three career wins on grass. She has produced four winners from as many starters to date, including Francois, a stakes winner on the synthetic surface at Arlington Park; and Quality Council, who placed in a Grade 2 race on the dirt at Aqueduct.

Black Onyx’s second dam (grandmother) is a full sister (same sire [father], same dam [mother]) to 1995 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Desert Stormer. Other notable members of Black Onyx’s maternal family include Grade/Group 1 winners Better Lucky and White Moonstone and graded stakes winner Sahara Gold.

2. Oxbow


It is safe to say that there will be few pedigrees as powerful as Oxbow’s from among the 2013 U.S. classics hopefuls.

The Lecomte Stakes winner's sire, Awesome Again, won the 1998 Breeders’ Cup Classic to cap an unbeaten 4-year-old campaign that included five graded stakes wins, including the Whitney Handicap. Talk about unlucky, Awesome Again put together his banner season in the wrong year as Skip Away, fourth in the Classic, was named Horse of the Year and champion older male after winning seven graded stakes, including five Grade 1s. Awesome Again, as a sire, has a knack for the big horse, including 2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner and that year’s Horse of the Year Ghostzapper. He also is the sire of champion Ginger Punch, multiple Grade 1 winner Game On Dude, and 2004 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Wilko.

Oxbow is a full brother (same sire [father] and dam [mother]) to stakes winner Awesome Patriot, who finished in the top three in a graded stakes. His dam (mother), Tizamazing, was unraced but she is a full sister to two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic winner and top sire Tiznow, multiple graded stakes winner Budroyale, graded stakes winner Tizdubai and stakes winner Tizbud. Another full sister to Tizamazing is Tizso, the dam of 2012 Haskell Invitational Stakes winner Paynter and two other stakes winners.

In short, Oxbow boasts plenty of firepower from both the paternal and maternal halves of his pedigree and most of the notable names got better as they got older and the races grew longer.

3. Revolutionary


Bred by William S. Farish of Lane’s End, one of the top farms in the Thoroughbred industry, Louisiana Derby winner Revolutionary is from one of two crops by 2007 champion 2-year-old male War Pass, who was brilliant in that year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. War Pass died in December 2010. He is also represented by Blue Grass Stakes winner Java’s War in this year’s Kentucky Derby.

Revolutionary’s dam (mother) is 1997 Alabama Stakes winner Runup the Colors, by A.P. Indy. It’s always nice when analyzing a pedigree for a Kentucky Derby hopeful to find a dam whose best performance came at 1 ¼ miles in a prestigious Grade 1 race and it sure doesn’t hurt that she is by 1992 Belmont Stakes winner and Horse of the Year A.P. Indy. Revolutionary’s second dam (maternal grandmother) is Up the Flagpole, winner of the 1981 Delaware Oaks and matriarch of standouts such as 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft and Grade or Group 1 winners Flagbird, Prospectors Delite, Tomisue’s Delight, Mr. Sidney and Little Belle. This is one heck of a female family and one that has a history of producing horses with plenty of puff to excel in a 1 ¼-mile race.

4. Golden Soul

Golden Soul

Canadian champion Perfect Soul is the sire (father) of Golden Soul, who finished fourth in the Louisiana Derby. Perfect Soul was an outstanding turf miler and his best runners to date - Perfect Shirl, winner of the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf; and Canadian classic winner Perfect Shower – both earned their signature wins on grass as well.

Golden Soul is a half-brother to 2004 Coolmore Lexington Stakes winner Quintons Gold Rush. He is one of six winners from eight foals to race produced by the unraced Mr. Prospector mare Hollywood Gold.

Golden Soul’s second dam (maternal grandmother) won the 1989 French Oaks. This also is the family of 1976 French One Thousand Guineas winner Riverqueen.

Much of the talent on both sides of this pedigree excelled on grass, however, Golden Soul has made each of his five career starts on dirt.

5. Normandy Invasion

Normandy Invasion

Wood Memorial Stakes runner-up Normandy Invasion is by Tapit, winner of the 2004 Wood Memorial and one of the top sires in the U.S.

Tapit’s top runners include champions Stardom Bound and Hansen, both of whom excelled at 1 1/16 miles.

Unraced Boston Lady, by Boston Harbor, is the dam (mother) of Normandy Invasion. Normandy Invasion's maternal grandmother, Gay Senorita, was a half-sister (same dam [mother], different sire [father]) to three stakes winners, including graded stakes winners Gulls Cry and Gala Regatta.

6. Mylute


Louisiana Derby runner-up Mylute is from the first crop of two-time Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner and champion Midnight Lute, who was a U.S. classics hopeful early in his career before breathing problems limited him to sprinting. A son of dual classic winner Real Quiet, Midnight Lute certainly looks like a potential top stallion with the ability to sire a U.S. classic winner - he has Sunland Derby winner Govenor Charlie and Mylute in his first crop of 3-year-olds.

Mylute’s dam (mother), Stage Stop, was a stakes winner at one mile on the grass as a 2-year-old and placed in seven other stakes, including the 2006 Boyd Gaming’s Delta Princess Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on the main track. Her first foal to race, She Digs Me, won the 2011 Sapling Stakes, a Grade 3 race for 2-year-olds at Monmouth Park.

Stage Stop is a full sister (same dam [mother], same sire [father]) to stakes-winning sprinter Valid Move. Mylute’s maternal grandmother is stakes winner Winning Move, by 1991 Kentucky Derby winner Strike the Gold. Winning Move won the 1998 Heavenly Prize Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on the main track.

At first glance, Mylute’s pedigree looks like that of a quality sprinter, but digging a little bit deeper it looks like there is sufficient stamina for him to excel in longer races. Whether, he can do so against the best of his generation in the Kentucky Derby remains to be seen.

7. Giant Finish

Giant Finish

Spiral Stakes third-place finisher Giant Finish is from the first crop of Frost Giant, a multiple group stakes winner in Ireland who earned his most important career victory in the Grade 1 Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park in 2008. By top sire Giant’s Causeway, Giant Finish also is the sire of stakes winner West Hills Giant from his first crop of runners.

Unplaced Apocalyptic, by Hickman Creek, is the dam (mother) of Giant Finish, who is one of four winners from five starters she has produced. Giant Finish’s half-sister (same dam [mother], different sire [father]) Apocalyptical is the dam of Grade 2-placed multiple stakes winner Weekend Hideaway.

Other notable members of the maternal family include Grade 2 winner Crafty C.T., runner-up in the 2001 Santa Anita Derby (G1) and Grade 2 winner Screen King.

8. Goldencents


Santa Anita Derby winner Goldencents is one of two 2013 Kentucky Derby contenders from the first crop of Grade 1 winner Into Mischief, who is off to a nice start after finishing third on the freshman sire list in 2012, but of course Goldencents success was a huge part of Into Mischief’s lofty spot on that list.

Into Mischief was a very talented runner who never finished worse than second while winning three of six starts, including a victory in the 2007 CashCall Futurity (G1). He was sidelined for the 2008 Triple Crown races but came back later that year to win the Damascus Stakes and finish second in the Malibu Stakes (G1). Into Mischief is from the first crop of Grade 1 winner Harlan’s Holiday, sire of 2012 champion 2-year-old male Shanghai Bobby.

So far, it looks like Into Mischief has the makings of a good sire. But it is far too early to tell if his sons will be able to pass the distance tests that the Triple Crown races provide.

The maternal side of Goldencents pedigree is not one brimming with class as his second dam (maternal grandmother), Body Works, is the only stakes winner other than Goldencents going back four generations. Body Works won a stakes at 1 1/8 miles, which is a plus when evaluating Goldencents chances to excel in longer races. Him dam (mother) Golden Works, however, did not win a race longer than six furlongs.

9. Overanalyze

Overanalyze -Palace Malice -Palmer

A couple of aspects of Arkansas Derby winner Overanalyze’s pedigree jump out right off the bat. First, his sire (father), Dixie Union, has a nice track record of siring talented racehorses; and second, he is a half-brother (same mother, different father) to Grade 1 winner Meadow Breeze.

Dixie Union won the 2000 Haskell Invitational Stakes among seven wins from 12 starts and his success carried over to the breeding shed until his death at age 13 in 2010. Not necessarily a classic distance-type sire, Dixie Union was better known for passing along speed and precocity, but 2012 Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags was proof Dixie Union is more than capable of siring a top Kentucky Derby contender.

Overanalyze’s dam (mother) was unraced but she is by 1995 Whitney Handicap winner Unaccounted For, who also finished second that year in the Jockey Club Gold Cup and third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, two of the most prestigious 1 ¼-mile races on the calendar.

The maternal side of Overanalyze’s pedigree tilts more toward speed and precocity than stamina. Meadow Breeze’s Grade 1 win came at seven furlongs and that was her longest trip to the winner’s circle. Overanalyze’s second dam (grandmother) did not win a race longer than three-quarters of a mile. 

10. Palace Malice

Palace Malice

Blue Grass Stakes runner-up Palace Malice is from the first crop of 2007 and 2008 Horse of the Year Curlin, who won the Preakness Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic in 2007 and the Dubai World Cup in 2008. Also a two-time Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes winner, Curlin was a dominating force in horse racing from May 2007 through October 2008.

With only one crop of racing age, it’s too early to speculate about Curlin’s potential as a sire. But it’s probably safe to assume that stamina is a trait Curlin will frequently pass along to his offspring since he could run all day.

Stakes winner Palace Rumor, by Royal Anthem, is the dam (mother) of Palace Malice and two other winners from three starters. Palace Rumor is a half-sister to multiple stakes winners Maya’s Storm and Jumpifyoudare. Rail Trip, winner of the 1 ¼-mile Hollywood Gold Cup, also is a member of this family.

Palace Rumor’s pedigree includes quite a few paternal and maternal stamina influences, which suggests he should be able to fire a big shot at 1 ¼ miles.

11. Lines of Battle

Lines of Battle

United Arab Emirates Derby winner Lines of Battle’s sire, War Front, has gotten off to a very nice start at stud. He made an immediate impact with Grade 1 winners The Factor and Data Link as well as 2011 Fountain of Youth Stakes winner Soldat among his top runners. Lines of Battle’s maternal family also flexes plenty of muscle.

Lines of Battle’s dam (mother) Black Speck, by Arch, is a half-sister (same dam [mother], different sire [father]) to influential sire Dynaformer, who was a great source of soundness and stamina. Black Speck already has produced three stakes winners and another Group 1-placed runner from her first five starters. Other notable members of this family include Grade 1 winner Andover Way, Lines of Battle’s second dam (maternal grandmother); 2001 Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos; Grade 1 winner Offlee Wild; and Grade 2 winner and sire Darby Creek Road.

Lines of Battle inherits a serious dose of class and plenty of stamina from the maternal side of his pedigree, and he is a strong bet to excel at the 1 ¼-mile Kentucky Derby distance. 

12. Itsmyluckyday


Florida Derby runner-up Itsmyluckyday is from the second crop of 2007 champion older male Lawyer Ron, whose best distance was 1 1/8 miles. He won the 2006 Arkansas Derby and 2007 Oaklawn Handicap, Whitney Handicap and Woodward Stakes at that distance, and finished second by a neck to two-time Horse of the Year Curlin in the 1 ¼-mile Jockey Club Gold Cup in 2007. Lawyer Ron’s first crop included Grade 1 winner Drill and graded stakes winner Stealcase, third in last year’s Haskell Invitational Stakes. Off to a solid start at stud, Lawyer Ron’s second crop is his final one as he died from complications related to colic surgery in July 2009.

Stakes-placed winner Viva La Slew, by Doneraile Court, is the dam (mother) of Itsmyluckyday. Viva La Slew placed in a stakes sprinting when she was two and won a race at a mile. Itsmyluckyday’s second dam (maternal grandmother), Viva La Viva, was unraced but his third dam (maternal great-grandmother), Viva Sec, by Secretariat, was a multiple stakes winner sprinting. Notable members from this family include French classic winner Astronomer Royal and 1999 Fountain of Youth Stakes and Florida Derby winner Vicar. 

13. Falling Sky

Falling Sky

Grade 1 winner Lion Heart, runner-up to Smarty Jones in the 2004 Kentucky Derby, is the sire (father) of Sam F. Davis Stakes winner Falling Sky.

Lion Heart as a racehorse featured a nice blend of speed and stamina that made him very formidable in two-turn races. Lion Heart posted three wins and three seconds from eight starts in graded races that ranged from one mile to 1 ¼ miles and also won a graded stakes race sprinting. Among his standouts in six crops of racing age: 2012 Canadian Horse of the Year Uncaptured, 2010 Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Dangerous Midge and 2010 Arkansas Derby winner Line of David. Lion Heart was sold to The Jockey Club of Turkey in January 2010.

Falling Sky’s dam (mother), Sea Dragoness, finished third in a pair of sprint stakes as a 2-year-old and has produced five winners from as many starters. Sea Dragoness, by 1993 Kentucky Derby winner Sea Hero, is a half-sister (same dam [mother], different sire [father]) to stakes winners All Giving and War Native. The maternal family also is responsible for two-time champion Idun.

14. Verrazano

Verrazano Palmer

Wood Memorial Stakes winner Verrazano is a by a successful and versatile sire in More Than Ready, who was one of four horses that made up trainer Todd Pletcher’s first Kentucky Derby contingent in 2000. More Than Ready finished fourth in the 2000 Kentucky Derby, one spot behind the Pletcher-trained Impeachment.

A Grade 1 winner on the racetrack, More Than Ready has been very successful as a sire, with a well-deserved reputation as a very versatile sire of horses that excel on the main track, synthetic surfaces, and especially on grass. He also has traveled to Australia to stand at stud during the Southern Hemisphere breeding season and has been a top sire Down Under with Australian champions More Joyous, Phelan Ready and Sebring among his top runners.

Verrazano also gets plenty of class from the maternal side of his pedigree as he is half-brother to 2012 Risen Star Stakes winner El Padrino. Verrazano’s dam (mother) has gotten off to a great start with Verrazano and El Padrino as her first two starters. Verrazano’s second dam (maternal grandmother) is 1987 Ashland Stakes winner Chic Shirine, a full sister (same sire [father] and dam [mother]) to champion Queena. There are plenty of standout stakes winners from this maternal family, including Verrazano’s Grade 1-winning third dam (maternal great-grandmother) Too Chic. Other graded stakes winners from this family include Grade 1 winner and sire Brahms and Grade 1 winner Serra Lake as well as Al Khali, Hungry Island, Cappuchino, Coal Play, Soaring Empire, La Reina, and Regal Engagement. Many of the top runners from this family enjoyed success in distance races, which bodes well for Verrazano’s chances as the races get longer on the path to Churchill Downs. 

15. Charming Kitten

Charming Kitten

Blue Grass Stakes third-place finisher Charming Kitten is a full brother (same dam [mother], same sire [father]) to stakes winner Queen’splatekitten, who placed in four graded stakes. Both Charming Kitten and Queen’splatekitten are by 2004 champion turf male Kitten’s Joy, also the sire of Grade 1 winner Stephanie’s Kitten and graded stakes winners Dean’s Kitten and Banned.

Aside from Charming Kitten and Queen’splatekitten, there is not much in the way of stakes winners in Charming Kitten’s pedigree until you venture back to his third dam (maternal great-grandmother), Lake Champlain, by King’s Lake.

Lake Champlain won a stakes race at Churchill Downs as a 4-year-old after finishing second in the 1986 Irish One Thousand Guineas (a classic race) and Pretty Polly Stakes at three. There are a number of other top runners in this female family, including 1987 Breeders’ Cup Turf winner and champion turf male Theatrical, who went on to an outstanding career at stud.

Stamina should be no problem for Charming Kitten. The key element to consider with his pedigree is that his sire was an elite performer on turf and most of the top runners from the maternal side also were best on grass. Charming Kitten’s close third-place finish in the Blue Grass Stakes was a very nice performance, but the fact that he has never raced on dirt indicates that his connections felt he also was best-suited to turf. Animal Kingdom was able to win the Kentucky Derby in his first race on dirt, but how often does lightning strike twice?

16. Orb


Florida Derby winner Orb’s sire, Malibu Moon, is a son of 1992 Horse of the Year and influential sire A.P. Indy. Malibu Moon has emerged as a top sire in his own right with champion Declan's Moon and Grade 1-winning females Life At Ten, Devil May Care, and Malibu Mint among his top runners. Consider Malibu Moon very capable of siring a top-class racehorse capable of excelling at 1 ¼ miles.

Orb hails from a classy female family cultivated by the family of co-owner-breeder Stuart S. Janney III, including many standouts such as two-time champion Ruffian, Grade 1 winners and sires Private Terms and Coronado’s Quest and Grade 2 winners and sires Icecapade and Buckfinder.

His dam (mother), Lady Liberty, won at 1 ½ miles on the grass at Keeneland and at 1 1/8 miles on the main track at Saratoga Race Course. Orb’s grandam (maternal grandmother), Mesabi Maiden, won the 1996 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes.

17. Will Take Charge

Will Take Charge

Rebel Stakes winner Will Take Charge is a half-brother (same dam [mother], different sire [father]) to 2012 Florida Derby winner Take Charge Indy. Their dam, Take Charge Lady, was a standout on the racetrack, winning half of her 22 career races and earning more than $2.4 million. Take Charge Lady won the three Grade 1 races in her career – the Ashland Stakes and the Spinster Stakes twice, all at Keeneland Race Course. By 1993 champion 2-year-old male Dehere, Take Charge Lady was at her best in two-turn races where she could use her speed to her advantage and run away from the competition. She won six times by 3 ½ lengths or more and led into the stretch in the 2002 Kentucky Oaks before fading to second behind Farda Amiga.

Clearly, Will Take Charge gets a powerful dose of class from his mother.

Will Take Charge’s sire, Unbridled’s Song, also has a nice record at stud with top runners such as U.S. champion Midshipman, Canadian champion Embur’s Song and Breeders’ Cup winners Unrivaled Belle and Unbridled Elaine to name just a few. 

18. Frac Daddy

Frac Daddy

Arkansas Derby runner-up Frac Daddy is from the second crop of 2007 Florida Derby winner Scat Daddy, who ranked second on the second-crop sire list in 2012. Scat Daddy is the sire of 2012 Grade 1 winner Lady of Shamrock and graded/group stakes winners Daddy Long Legs, Handsome Mike, and Daddy Nose Best. Each of the aforementioned four horses thrived in two-turn races, so Frac Daddy figures to inherit a dose of stamina from his sire.

His dam (mother) is stakes-placed winner Skipper’s Mate, by 1998 Horse of the Year Skip Away. Skipper’s Mate’s three wins came in sprints going three-eighths of a mile or shorter and she finished third in a stakes sprint as a 2-year-old. Skipper’s Mate is a half-sister to Vegas Play, a stakes winner at one mile as a juvenile and runner-up in the 2006 Federico Tesio Stakes.

Frac Daddy’s second dam (maternal grandmother), Power Play, won the 1997 Delaware Handicap going 1 ¼ miles on the main track.

19. Java’s War

Java's War

Blue Grass Stakes winner Java’s War is the one of two 3-year-olds from champion War Pass’s first crop to qualify for the Kentucky Derby based on points, following Louisiana Derby winner Revolutionary. Obviously, having two colts win major Kentucky Derby preps from the first crop of runners says quite a bit about War Pass as a sire. Unfortunately, he died in December 2010 just before the beginning of his third season at stud, and thus War Pass is represented by only two crops in the Northern Hemisphere. By Cherokee Run, War Pass was dazzling at two in 2007, winning each of his four races, including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, en route to winning the Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old male.

Java’s War is from a robust female family with a mix of talented runners on turf, dirt, and synthetic surfaces. His dam (mother), Java, recorded both of her victories in two-turn races on grass. Java is a full sister (same sire [father], same dam [mother]) to 1998 champion turf female Fiji and a half-sister (different sire, same dam) to Capri, a Group 2 winner on grass in France. His second dam [maternal grandmother] was Grade 1-placed on grass and a stakes winner on dirt. Other standouts from this family include turf Grade 1 winner Cacoethes; Fabulously Fast and Fabulous Notion, both Grade 1 winner on dirt; and Subordination, a multiple Grade 1 winner on grass and a Grade 2 winner on dirt. In addition to a heavy dose of class, the female side of Java’s War’s pedigree contributes quite a bit of stamina as well. The 1 ¼-mile distance should be right in Java’s War’s wheelhouse.

20. Vyjack


Multiple graded stakes winner Vyjack’s sire (father), Into Mischief, was a Grade 1 winner as a 2-year-old who is off to a scorching start in the breeding shed. He has two graded stakes winners, Goldencents and Vyjack, from his first crop and it sure helps his visibility that both horses are entered in the Kentucky Derby.

The maternal side of Vyjack’s pedigree includes several classy horses, including his older half-brother (same mother, different father), Prime Cut, who finished second in the 2011 Coolmore Lexington Stakes and third in that year’s Peter Pan Stakes. The class in this pedigree, however, is primarily sprinters.

Vyjack’s dam (mother), Life Happened, was unraced but she is a half-sister to multiple graded-stakes-winning sprinter and sire Disco Rico. There is plenty of class going back in Vyjack’s pedigree as his second dam (maternal grandmother), Round It Off, was a stakes-placed sprinter. His third and fourth dams (maternal great-grandmother and maternal great-great-grandmother) also were stakes winners and produced stakes winners. His third dam, Capp It Off, produced multiple graded stakes winner Miss Slewpy, a Grade 2 winner at 1 ¼ miles.

Overall, there is plenty to like as far as class from Vyjack’s pedigree and just enough stamina (Prime Cut and Miss Slewpy) to provide a bit of hope that the 1 ¼-mile Derby distance will be within this talented gelding’s scope.

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Mike Curry

A native of Philadelphia who grew up in nearby Wilmington, Del., Curry was editor of Thoroughbred Times TODAY before joining the America's Best Racing team in May 2012. He credits his grandfather for the inspiration to repeatedly sneak off to Delaware Park as a 16-year-old and the 1989 rivalry between Sunday Silence and Easy Goer for his passion for horse racing. Curry graduated from the University of Delaware in 1997 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a concentration in Journalism. He worked for the Wilmington News Journal and was Sports Editor of the Cecil Whig before moving to Lexington in 2005.

Image Description

Mike Curry

A native of Philadelphia who grew up in nearby Wilmington, Del., Curry was editor of Thoroughbred Times TODAY before joining the America's Best Racing team in May 2012. He credits his grandfather for the inspiration to repeatedly sneak off to Delaware Park as a 16-year-old and the 1989 rivalry between Sunday Silence and Easy Goer for his passion for horse racing. Curry graduated from the University of Delaware in 1997 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a concentration in Journalism. He worked for the Wilmington News Journal and was Sports Editor of the Cecil Whig before moving to Lexington in 2005.

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