Among the points of contention in the 2015 Kentucky Derby is which sire line will deliver the winner. Through the 1970s, the Bold Ruler line was eminent, and in the 1980s, Raise a Native's descendants took a leading role, with Northern Dancer also in the ascendant, while Bold Ruler took a plunge in classic success.
Currently, breeders and racing fans have seen a massive resurgence of the Bold Ruler line through Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew and his classic-winning son A.P. Indy. Although he doesn't have any 3-year-olds in 2015, A.P. Indy is right there with five of the top 20 prospects for the Derby coming from his male line. That puts him in a tie with Northern Dancer and behind only the omnipresent force of Raise a Native's most persistent son, Mr. Prospector, who has eight representatives, including Kentucky Derby favorite American Pharoah.
Three of the runners for A.P. Indy are sired by his son Malibu Moon, who is also the sire of 2013 Kentucky Derby winner Orb, now a sire at Claiborne Farm. Danzig Moon, Stanford, and Mr. Z are the Malibu Moons, and all will be longshots, although Danzig Moon ran a deceptively good second in the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland behind Carpe Diem.
The two others for A.P. Indy are Upstart (Flatter) and Frosted (Tapit). Second in the G1 Champagne and third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last season, Upstart won the Holy Bull Stakes and ran a bang-up second behind Materiality (Afleet Alex) in the G1 Florida Derby, which is rated the top prep nationwide on the Beyer Speed Figures and by international handicappers. The dark bay son of Claiborne Farm stallion Flatter is a really good colt who has speed and adaptability. He offers genuine promise for the Derby but has to find something extra to get past Materiality, at least.
With victory in the Wood, Frosted improved notably on his juvenile form, which rated him behind the division stars represented here by juvenile champion American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile), plus the highly regarded Dortmund (Big Brown), Carpe Diem (Giant's Causeway), and Upstart.
The Derby is not run for 2-year-olds, however, and the colts who continue to improve and those who thrive markedly as they mature at 3 are sometimes the ones who wear the roses on the first Saturday in May.
Orb, for instance, was not a stakes winner at 2, but he advanced rapidly at 3 to win graded stakes, a G1, then the Derby. That is the same pattern followed by Big Brown, sire of Dortmund.
But many other classic performers showed high form at 2, including Pioneerof the Nile, Giant's Causeway, Afleet Alex, and Tapit.
Likewise, A.P. Indy was a top juvenile. A grand-looking colt who grew into a splendid individual on the racetrack, A.P. Indy won three of his four starts as a 2-year-old, including the G1 Hollywood Futurity. His obvious excellence and potential marked him as a genuine classic gem for 1992.
The bay won his three preps for the Kentucky Derby with workmanlike efficiency. A.P. Indy clearly had things well in hand, and there was every indication that trainer Neil Drysdale had plenty left to work with as they approached the Kentucky Derby. Unfortunately, the son of Seattle Slew bruised a foot prior to the Derby and had to be scratched.
A.P. Indy came back to win the Peter Pan, then the Belmont Stakes. A colt who handled his racing well and appeared to retain his condition well, A.P. Indy was away from the races till September, when he lost his first two races back. Things were not looking well off the bare results of those races, but A.P. Indy picked up the ball and carried it to the end zone to win the Breeders' Cup Classic, cinching a championship as the best 3-year-old colt of 1992, plus Horse of the Year for his domination of all his competition.
Retired to stud at Lane's End, where he is an honored pensioner to this day, A.P. Indy has had an illustrious stud career that has seen him sire champions and a long list of high-class performers. Over time, he has been recognized as the most classic influence in American breeding, and with his sons, and especially through his grandson Tapit, A.P. Indy looks sure to extend his classic quality to future generations.
Frank Mitchell is author of Racehorse Breeding Theories, as well as the book Great Breeders and Their Methods: The Hancocks. In addition to writing the column “Sires and Dams” in Daily Racing Form for nearly 15 years, he has contributed articles to Thoroughbred Daily News, Thoroughbred Times, Thoroughbred Record, International Thoroughbred, and other major publications. In addition, Frank is chief of biomechanics for DataTrack International and is a hands-on caretaker of his own broodmares and foals in central Kentucky. Check out Frank's lively Bloodstock in the Bluegrass blog.
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