Eleven years ago, Red Bullet won the Gotham and went on to win a Classic Race, when he spoiled Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus’ Triple Crown bid in the Preakness. Eleven years earlier, Easy Goer pulled a Gotham/Belmont Stakes double, getting his revenge on the Derby and Preakness hero Sunday Silence.
In this year’s renewal of the Gotham, the favorite, Stay Thirsty, triumphed over Whirlaway Stakes winner Toby’s Corner Grade 2 stakes placed Nacho Saint and a field of recent allowance and maiden winners. The Todd Pletcher trainee was wide on both turns and traveled the 1 1/16 miles in a moderate 1:44.78 conquering his rivals by over three lengths. In light of the developing trend, we need to ask, does Stay Thirsty have the pedigree to win a Classic race?
STAY THIRSTY (Bernardini – Marozia, by Storm Bird) spent his two year old season in the shadow of his more precocious stable mate, Uncle Mo. As a juvenile, Stay Thirsty won his maiden at six furlongs then jumped into Graded Stakes Company, finishing second in the Hopeful Stakes to the speedball, Boys At Tosconova. After a tough trip in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Stay Thirsty spent the winter maturing. Stay Thirsty prepped for his Gotham win by working in tandem with the current Kentucky Derby favorite, Uncle Mo.
Stay Thirsty's sire Bernardini won from a mile to 1 1/4 miles, Including the Preakness and Travers Stakes. As a three year old he beat older horses in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Although he was second to Invasor in a highly anticipated match-up in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Bernardini earned Horse of the Year honors for his previous exploits.
At stud, Bernardini is one of the best first crop sires of 2010. Although his offspring haven’t tried classic distances, Bernardini’s breeding and the talent of his progeny indicates that distance won’t pose a problem. Thus, the promising stallion is poised to become a successor to his sire A.P. Indy in getting stamina oriented offspring. With A.P. Indy as his sire and Quiet American as his damsire, one would expect that Bernardini’s progeny would be slow to develop; however Bernardini’s dam won three times and placed four times in nine starts at two, which likely has an influence on her son’s early success at stud. Bernardini could have a major impact on the outcome of this year’s Classics. Besides Stay Thirsty, Bernardini has sired Nashua winner To Honor And Serve and Kentucky Oaks nominee AZ Warrior.
Stay Thirsty’s dam Marozia raced nine times in England and won or was in the money four times. She’s a successful broodmare, having produced four winners from five foals to race, including Stay Thirsty’s half brothers Andromeda’s Hero, who was second in the Belmont Stakes and his precocious full brother Superfly who placed in the Champagne Stakes. Stay Thirsty’s distaff family traces directly back to Mahubah, the dam of Man O’War. His fifth dam Igual produced Triple Crown Champ Assault.
Stay Thirsty’s damsire Storm Bird was a Champion Juvenile in Ireland. At stud he produced Preakness winner Summer Squall, the great Storm Cat and many other prominent runners. The offspring produced by his daughters include Belmont Stakes hero Birdstone and multiple G-1 winners Commentator, and Court Vision. Stay Thirsty also carries the bloodlines of the Classic Chef-de-Race Roberto and Belmont Stakes winner Arts and Letters.
Stay Thirsty doesn’t appear to be a large colt, but he is well-balanced, muscular and has a smooth stride. He has a well-angled shoulder and has the lean demeanor of a route horse. Size isn’t an indicator of racing prowess. Notable horse that were smaller than average include Kentucky Derby winners Northern Dancer, Mine That Bird and Belmont Stakes winner Birdstone.
Stay Thirsty has a stamina oriented pedigree and has shown the ability to sit off the pace, yet he has the speed to quicken and put away his foes. The Classic race distances shouldn’t be a concern for him and he could easily continue the eleven year Gotham/Classic trend.