2-year-old pedigrees: Storm the Court's a head scratcher

November 18, 2019 01:15pm

A half-dozen 2-year-old colts added their names to the growing 2020 Kentucky Derby trail roster within the last month. Plenty of attention will be paid to whether Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Storm the Court was merely a fluke, while there's a new Derby favorite to discuss in Independence Hall.

Storm the Court

(Court Vision - My Tejana Storm, by Tejano Run)

This year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile was one for the record books. Storm the Court owns the dubious distinction of the highest longshot to win the race. He paid $93.80 to win, eclipsing 2009 Juvenile winner Vale of York’s $63.20 payout.

Every once in a while, a pedigree head-scratcher comes along. A graded stakes winner surfaces from a strictly allowance/claiming class background. Although rare, we’ve seen them win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in the past. The 2011 winner Hanson and 2004’s Wiko come to mind, although over time, both of their distaff lines later produced stakes winners. 

Storm the Court's sire, Court Vision, is a multiple Grade 1 winner from a mile to 1 1/4 miles over dirt and turf. The well-bred stallion had a full career, making 31 starts in six years, and earning $3,741,802. Court Vision is by 1988 Champion Sprinter Gulch out of an unraced full sister to Preakness hero Summer Squall and a half-sister to the legendary A.P. Indy.

The stallion hasn’t lived up to his lofty pedigree at stud. To date, he has eight stakes winners from five racing crops. Storm the Court is his first Grade 1 winner.

Storm the Court’s dam sire, Tejano Run, was third in the 1994 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and placed second the following year in the Kentucky Derby. He was a multiple Grade 3 winner at a mile to 1 1/8 miles. As a dam sire, he has few stakes winners. Storm the Court is also his first Grade 1 winner.

In both of his winning starts, Storm the Court eyeballed his competition and didn’t back down. Our Juvenile hero has the conformation and pedigree to handle 1 1/8 miles. Conditioning and his sheer determination could take Storm the Court all the way to the Kentucky Derby.

Independence Hall
(Constitution - Kalahari Cat, by Cape Town)

A day after the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, the current Las Vegas favorite for the Derby emerged. Last out maiden winner Independence Hall pressed the early pace in the Nashua (G3) at Aqueduct. He took over around the turn and drew away down the stretch. Despite being several lengths in front, Jose Ortiz smacked three times, and Independence Hall ducked away from the whip. The Michael Trombetta trainee won the mile event by an impressive 12 1/4 lengths. His next start hasn't been determined.

 Independence Hall has the pedigree and conformation of a miler who may get 1 1/8 miles with training and maturity and may handle multiple surfaces. First Crop sire Constitution had his 2014 Kentucky Derby dreams derailed due to a hairline shin fracture a few weeks after winning the Florida Derby. He wasn’t quite the same after that, visiting the winner’s circle only once in five subsequent starts, in the 1 1/8-mile Donn Handicap.

Constitution is off to an excellent stud career. Aside from Independence Hall, his first crop includes Champagne Stakes (G1) hero Tiz the Law, Sorrento (G2) winner Amalfi Sunrise, and Sanford (G3) winner By Your Side.

Independence Hall is the 10th foal and fourth blacktype earner in his immediate family, which includes Spiral Stakes (G3) winner Black Onyx, listed winner Francois, and Quality Council, who placed third in the 2010 Nashua Stakes.
 Independence Hall’s second generation is comprised of mostly turf blacktype, including Group 1-winning miler White Moonstone and multiple graded winning turf mare Homerique.

Cape Town is the damsire of a dozen graded/listed winners, including Hopeful (G1) winner Competitive Edge, Louisiana Derby hero Pants on Fire and Grade 3 winner Bird Song. None of his daughter’s offspring have been successful past nine furlongs.

Anneau d’Or
(Medaglia d'Oro - Walk Close, by Tapit)   

Anneau d’Or pressed the pace three-wide in the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile. He joined Storm the Court on the lead a furlong out and fought gamely to the wire, just missing by a head to the more experienced winner. This colt was running second out and in his first start on dirt after debuting over the lawn at Golden Gate Fields.

Anneau d’Or has a middle distance/classic pedigree and is capable over dirt and turf. Medaglia d'Oro is noted as the sire of champions Songbird and Rachael Alexandra, Kentucky Derby heroine Plum Pretty, Alabama winner Elate, and a host of other elite fillies. He also gets a good proportion of top-level colts, including multiple Grade 1 winners Mishawish and Bolt d’Oro.

Medaglia d'Oro’s progeny are capable at all distances over all surfaces. Anneau d’Or’s dam, the multiple stakes-winning turf mare Walk Close, was successful through 1 1/8 miles and placed up to 1 1/2 miles in stakes company. She’s the only blacktype earner out of stakes-winning sprinter Spring Awakening.

Tapit is the damsire of 20 Graded/Listed winners worldwide. The bulk are sprinters; only five have won at 1 1/8 miles and farther. None have won at classic distances in the U.S. This one should show up next in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2).

(Palace Malice - Miss Always Ready, by More Than Ready)

Structor kept his perfect record in tact with a 3/4-length victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. He settled on the inside in mid-pack in the early stages. Jose Ortiz found running room for the Chad Brown trainee with only a furlong to go. Once clear, Structor hit the front a few strides from the wire, and from there, talk of switching to the dirt for the Derby trail began.

Structor has a middle distance pedigree, although his talent and conditioning could take him farther with maturity. While his First Crop sire captured the Belmont Stakes, it was the third-slowest time of the decade. In four attempts at 1 1/4-miles, Palace Malice hit the board once, finishing a distant second to Ron the Greek in the Jockey Club Gold Cup.

Structor is the first foal out of a full sister to 2010 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf heroine More Than Real. Miss Always Ready’s half-sister, Miss Lavinia, is the second dam of Cassies Dreamer, who placed in last year’s Frizette and Spinaway Stakes. Structor’s second dam, Miss Seefens, is a multiple listed sprinter who earned more than $500,000 in 26 starts.

As a dam sire, More Than Ready’s progeny are strong sprinter to middle-distance winners. His daughters have produced only two winners in U.S. graded/listed stakes at classic distances.


Four Wheel Drive
(American Pharoah - Funfair, by More Than Ready)

He zoomed out of the starting gate in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint and never looked back. The Wesley Ward trainee zipped through fractions of :21.55 and 44:03 while on an uncontested lead. He motored under the wire 3/4-length in front with a final time of :55.66.

Four Wheel Drive may handle middle distances, and there are both turf and dirt affinities in his pedigree. The offspring of first crop sire American Pharoah should handle all distances. Four Wheel Drive’s dam won the Colleen Stakes sprinting over the Monmouth turf as a 2-year-old. Although Funfair owns the only blacktype amongst her siblings, a half-brother was capable at 1 1/4 miles over the lawn.

Four Wheel Drive’s third-generation includes 2009 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile hero Furthest Land, multiple graded handicap horse Dynever, and the swift multiple graded winning sprinter Ready for Rye. As a dam sire, More Than Ready’s progeny are strong sprinter to middle-distance winners.

High Velocity
(Quality Road - Ketel Twist, by Dixie Union)  

The Bob Hope (G3) at Del Mar originally contained six entrants. When the dust settled, four went to the post.
 Last out maiden winner High Velocity broke on top and took command under Drayden Van Dyke with Strongconstitution pressing. The more experienced Strongconstitution eyeballed the Bob Baffert trainee around the turn but was turned back. High Velocity won the seven-furlong contest by 1 1/4-lengths, emerging as another Los Alamitos Futurity possibility.

High Velocity has the pedigree of a middle-distance/classic distance horse, and turf could be an option down the road. Both his sire and dam sire were true 1 1/8-mile specialists on the track. Quality Road does have four stakes winners at 1 1/4 miles and farther, including 2017 Champion 3-year-old filly Abel Tasman, Alabama (G1) heroine Dunbar Road, and turf router Spring Quality.

High Velocity is the first foal out of a multiple stakes-placed mare whose half-siblings own blacktype as turf milers. This is the distaff line of the speedy millionaire Green Mask, a multiple graded sprinter over dirt and turf. Dixie Union is the dam sire of only one classic distance winner, Travers hero Code of Honor.


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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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