Each day of Kentucky Derby week, bloodstock editor Joe Nevills is taking a look at the pedigrees of four Kentucky Derby contenders and how those pedigrees might factor into their ability to succeed at a mile and a quarter. We're working our way up the leaderboard and now cracking the top ten.
War of Will
War Front x Visions of Clarity, by Sadler's Wells
War Front was a high-end sprinter during his on-track career, highlighted by a score in the Grade 2 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Breeders' Cup Handicap at six furlongs. He was also G1-placed at six and seven furlongs. Before jumping up to graded stakes competition, War Front won the non-graded Princelet Stakes at a mile and a sixteenth.
Despite doing all of his stakes winning on the dirt, War Front's runners have typically done their best work on the turf and synthetic surfaces, with a fleet of horses winning internationally for the Coolmore operation. However, he sent Lines of Battle to the 2013 Kentucky Derby off a win in the 1 3/16-mile G2 U.A.E. Derby, and he has two runners with points to run in this year's edition, along with Omaha Beach. His average progeny winning distance of 7.42 is above average for a Derby sire.
The Irish-bred Visions of Clarity, by Sadler's Wells won the listed Prix Bagatelle in France going 1,600 meters, roughly a mile. Sadler's Wells was himself a champion miler in France, who went on to become one of Europe's greatest sires, extending his line through sons including Galileo, El Prado, and Montjeu.
Prior to War of Will, the most notable runner out of Visions of Clarity was Pathfork, a son of Distorted Humor who became a star in the Irish juvenile ranks, taking the G1 National Stakes at seven furlongs and the G2 Futurity Stakes, both on turf. When crossed with A.P. Indy, the mare produced Tacticus, who was a stakes winner at 1 5/8 miles, up to 1 ¾ miles, both on dirt. Market Outlook, by Lemon Drop Kid, was stakes-placed on the turf at a mile and a sixteenth.
Moving, a full-brother to War of Will, began his racing career in France, winning at about a mile before being relocated to Southern California, where he was pulled up in his debut and never hit the board again.
City Zip x Rare Event, by A.P. Indy
City Zip was a precocious runner, taking the G1 Hopeful Stakes (seven furlongs), G2 Saratoga Special Stakes (6 ½ furlongs) and Sanford Stakes (six furlongs), and G3 Tremont Stakes (5 ½ furlongs) as a juvenile. He remained a successful sprinter at three, with wins in the G2 Amsterdam Stakes (six furlongs), G3 Jersey Shore Breeders' Cup Stakes (six furlongs), and a pair of listed stakes at six panels.
That quick-fire ability was passed on to many of City Zip's foals, including champion sprinter Work All Week, but he was more than capable of getting high-profile two-turn runners. Among them are Canadian Horse of the Year Catch a Glimpse, Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf winner Dayatthespa, and G1 Pacific Classic winner Collected.
Rare Event, by A.P. Indy, broke her maiden going a mile on the turf, then racked up allowance wins at a mile and an eighth on the turf, a mile and a sixteenth on the dirt, and finally back to a mile on grass. A.P. Indy, a winner of the Belmont Stakes and Breeders' Cup Classic, is a well-decorated distance sire.
Improbable is the first foal out of Rare Event.
Daaher x Sablah, by Distorted Humor
Daaher found his sweet spot at a mile on the main track in the fall of his 3-year-old season, defeating his classmates in the G2 Jerome Handicap, then taking down older competition in the G1 Cigar Mile Handicap.
His average progeny winning distance of 6.87 furlongs is middling for a Kentucky Derby sire, leaning toward below average. Aside from Haikal, his only other graded stakes winner is Gypsy Robin, who is a multiple G2 winner at seven furlongs.
Sablah, by Distorted Humor, never raced. Distorted Humor was a graded stakes winner from seven furlongs to a mile, but his progeny can go the distance, including dual classic winner Funny Cide and Belmont Stakes winner Drosselmeyer.
She is also the dam of Takaful, by Bernardini, who took the G1 Vosburgh Stakes at six furlongs. Takaful's wheelhouse was assuredly going around one turn, but he did pick up some graded black type at a mile and an eighth, finishing third in the G2 Remsen Stakes.
Code of Honor
Noble Mission x Reunited, by Dixie Union
Noble Mission's claim to fame is being a full-brother to undefeated European superstar Frankel, but he was a champion in his own right, taking home Europe's older male honors in 2014. He won eight stakes races at a mile and a quarter or longer, all on turf, including the G1 Grand Prix de Saint Cloud at a mile and a half, and the 1 ¼-mile G1 QIPCO Champion Stakes and Tattersalls Gold Cup.
His average progeny winning distance of 7.36 furlongs is above average for a Derby sire, but it's an impressive showing for a young sire whose foals haven't had as many opportunities to stretch out in distance as his veteran contemporaries. Behind Code of Honor in earnings is Life Mission, who is stakes-placed on the turf from 6 ½ furlongs to a mile.
Reunited, by Dixie Union, won five of 10 career starts, and did her best work sprinting, taking the G3 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes at six furlongs and the Oh What a Windfall Stakes 6 ½ panels.
A veteran broodmare, Reunited's most notable foal besides Code of Honor is Big League, by Speightstown, who is G2-placed at 6 ½ furlongs, while Big League's full-sister Reunion won her lone career start at six furlongs.
Crosswalk, by City Zip, won at six and seven furlongs. Dapper Draper, by Distorted Humor, won an Aqueduct maiden claimer at a mile and 70 yards, then won a trio of races at Finger Lakes at a mile or thereabouts. Jungle Jumble, a son of Candy Ride, was a Gulfstream Park West maiden claiming winner on the turf at a mile, and won claiming-level sprints on both surfaces. Zip Ups, by Ghostzapper, was a maiden winner at Belmont, going a mile on the turf.
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