2018 Kentucky Derby: Mendelssohn pedigree profile

By Laurie Ross
April 02, 2018 10:45am
2018 Kentucky Derby: Mendelssohn pedigree profile
Photo: Coady Photography

Mendelssohn was asked the question, “Are you a legitimate 2018 Kentucky Derby contender?” He answered with a resounding YES when scoring an 18 1/2-length victory in Saturday's Group 2 UAE Derby.

Mendelssohn bounded smartly out of the gate and vied briefly for the early lead with the Group 3-winning filly, Rayya. Jockey Ryan Moore let the bay colt set his own easy pace, and Mendelssohn clipped off even fractions averaging :12 per furlong. Although they widened their advantage with every stride, Moore shook the colt up a little in the stretch to keep Mendelssohn’s mind on completing the job. The last quarter was timed in :25.09 in an ear twitching gallop, and Mendelssohn’s final time of 1:55.18 for 1 3/6 miles was a new track record.

Mendelssohn was bred by
Nance and Fred Mitchell and Marty Buckner of Clarkland Farm. The small farm’s successes include Mendelssohn‘s half-sister, four-time Champ Beholder, Champion Sprinter Housebuster, and Farma Way, who set the track record for 1 3/16 miles at Pimlico. 

Mendelssohn was a buzz horse at the 2016 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, attracting the winning
$3 million from the Coolmore syndicate. The colt was placed in the care of leading Irish trainer Aidan O'BrienMendelssohn won his second time out, in a one-mile maiden event. Cutting back to seven furlongs, he was unplaced next time out but got up for second place in the Darley Dewhurst Stakes (G1). Shipping to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, Mendelssohn stalked the early lead, then exploded with a one-length score over a full field of 14. O'Brien warmed the colt up with a victory in the one mile Patton Stakes over synthetic before shipping Mendelssohn to Dubai.

Mendelssohn has compiled a 7-4-1-0 record and has earned almost $2 million. He’s No. 3 on the Kentucky Derby qualifying board with 100 points.


Scat Daddy Mendelssohn sireMendelssohn is a member of the last crop sired by the Coolmore stallion Scat Daddy (Johannesburg - Love Style, by Mr. Prospector). The young stallion was popular with breeders in the Northern and Southern hemispheres before his demise as an 11-year-old in 2015, at Coolmore Australia.

Scat Daddy’s progeny inherited their sire’s precocious genes and the ability to carry their speed. The bulk of his offspring
are best as middle-distance runners. However, eight of his babies have won stakes beyond nine furlongs, mostly on turf. The Chilean bred Tu Brutus and Mendelssohn are Scat Daddy’s only classic distance winners on dirt.

Female Family

Leslie's Lady mareMendelssohn is the third stakes winner produced by his dam.  He hails from the same distaff line as Kentucky Derby hero I’ll Have Another, and 1991 Champion two-year-old filly, Pleasant Stage, who also placed in the Kentucky Oaks. 

Mendelssohn’s dam is
2016 Broodmare of the Year Leslie's Lady (Tricky Creek - Crystal Lady, by Stop the Music). The phenomenal mare was average on the track, earning $187,014 in 28 starts, including a listed victory. She has shined as a producer, giving us the aforementioned Beholder, plus her little half-brother, the classy sprinter, and sire, Into Mischief.  

Leslie's Lady’s genes are being passed along by her daughters; two have born blacktype earners.

Mendelssohn pedigree profile

Tricky Creek StallionTricky Creek (Clever Trick - Battle Creek Girl, by His Majesty) was a multiple graded stakes winner at 1 1/8 miles. He didn’t light the world on fire as a sire, with none of his offspring winning a G1 stakes. Instead, they were hardy, dependable sorts who handled all surfaces up to 1 1/8 miles. A few of Tricky Creek’s blacktype earners placed at 1 1/4 miles over turf and mud.

Tricky Creek is the damsire
of 10 stakes winners. Only two, Beholder and Mendelssohn, have won past 1 1/16 miles.


MendelssohnPedigree? Check.

Conformation? Check.

Class? Check.

High cruising speed? Check.

Mendelssohn seems to have it all. 

However perfect the bay colt appears, there are still some questions left, which can’t be answered until they break from the gate in the Kentucky Derby. O'Brien stated after the UAE Derby that, ”the Kentucky Derby, with 20 runners, will obviously be a lough tougher but he’s a very smart animal.”

Mendelssohn can handle dirt, but the kickback issue remains to be seen. He was sent to the front in the UAE Derby, precisely to keep the dirt out of his face. This year’s Kentucky Derby is setting up with plenty of early speed types that are questionable to handle 1 1/4 miles. The colt’s professionalism indicates that he’ll handle kickback as well as he does everything else.

MendelssohnAlthough Mendelssohn’s connections are still plotting their course to Kentucky, Irish super trainer Aidan O'Brien is known to fly horses from his home base to America just days before the races. This hasn’t panned out well for his previous Kentucky Derby contenders, including Mendelssohn’s second tail sire (grandpa on dad’s side) Johannesburg. Mendelssohn will probably just stretch his legs in light gallops at Churchill to get acclimated to the track.

Mendelssohn should be fit for the Kentucky Derby, but how hard of a race did he have in Dubai? Sure, he won by 18 1/2 lengths, but he did it in track record time. Factor that with the trip to Dubai, back to Ireland, then to Kentucky. It’s a lot to handle for a colt who won’t be physically 3 years old until two days before the Preakness.  

Despite all this, is Mendelssohn in my top three Kentucky Derby favorites? Check.


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Meet Laurie Ross

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Through hands-on work at barns, I learned valuable lessons about Thoroughbred conformation, gait, and temperament and later worked withThoroughbred rescue/re-train organizations. I have committed my passion for horses to the intensive study of pedigree and breeding theory for the last 20 years. 

I support clients with all aspects of pedigree/breeding analysis, research, sales, catalogue review, and recommendations on claims or private sales. Clients include national leading owners, racing/breeding syndicates, the little guy with one mare, and everyone in between. 10-20% of all proceeds are donated to Thoroughbred rescue & retraining groups. Check out my website, Iron Maidens Thoroughbreds, and the IMTBreds blog.

I welcome your questions regarding pedigree, handicapping, and breeding. If you would like me to cover a specific topic, please contact me. 

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