Kentucky Derby 2019 pedigrees: On Tacitus, Hidden Scroll

March 16, 2019 09:19am
Kentucky Derby 2019 pedigrees: On Tacitus, Hidden Scroll
Photo: Adam Mooshian/Gulfstream Park

As the 2019 Kentucky Derby draws near, we’ll discover which contenders can carry their speed and handle tougher competition.

The Kentucky Derby pedigree watch reviews the pedigree, conformation, running style, and other details of stakes, allowance and last out maiden runners.

This week we’ll look at the latest Derby trail contenders, including two from the Mott barn.


(Tapit - Close Hatches, by First Defence)

Trainer: Bill Mott
Race Record: 3-2-0-1 ($253,000)
Last Race: 1st Tampa Bay Derby (G2)
Derby Points: 50

raced twice as a juvenile, winning once at a mile. He jumped onto the Kentucky Derby trail setting a new stakes record in 1:41.90 in the Tampa Bay Derby, just missing the track record of 1:41.75 by a heartbeat. 

Tacitus is the first foal out of mare Close Hatches, who was also conditioned by Bill Mott to championship status in 2014. Close Hatches didn’t win the Breeders’ Cup Distaff that year, but she did string together four consecutive graded stakes victories, three of them Grade 1s, ranging from 1 1/16 miles to 1 1/8 miles. Her younger full sister Lockdown hit the board in five graded stakes, including the Mother Goose and Kentucky Oaks. A half-sister by Tapit placed in the Busanda Stakes. 

We know the offspring of Tapit win from sprints to 1 1/2 miles. First Defence was a Grade 1-winning sprinter/miler. He didn’t sire many stakes winners; the most accomplished is multiple grade 1 earner Close Hatches. First Defence is also the damsire of
Anothertwistoffate, profiled on March 2

Derby Distance Verdict: Borderline!
Tacitus is a large, powerful looking gray, reminiscent of Arrogate. However, Tacitus' shoulder is a bit upright, causing him to run with his head up, and not fully extend when he runs. His back is longer than that of a true distance horse. Tacitus doesn’t have early speed, but breaks with the field and plays well in traffic. He finished up strongly at a mile and 1 1/16 miles, and 1 1/8 miles should be a cinch. But we all know horses who love nine furlongs only to falter three steps beyond.
Hidden Scroll

(Hard Spun - Sheba Queen, by Empire Maker)

Trainer: Bill Mott
Race Record: 2-1-0-0 ($50,600)
Last Race: 4th Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2)
Derby Points: 5

Unless you’ve been hiding in a stall, you know all about Hidden Scroll’s 14-length maiden romp in January. The elegant bay son of Hard Spun captured bettors' attention in the Fountain of Youth, starting as the 6-5 favorite over more accomplished colts. Hidden Scroll made his way to the front in the 1 1/16-mile contest and argued with longshot 
Gladiator King for the lead. They played dueling banjos on the front end through quick early fractions of 22.80, and 45.69, until Gladiator King sunk to the back of the pack like a leaky canoe. Global Campaign made a half-hearted attempt to challenge Hidden Scroll but was turned back while Hidden Scroll clocked six furlongs in 1:10.42. Code of Honor passed the leg-weary Hidden Scroll around the 1/8 pole. Hidden Scroll tired to finish fourth, 2 3/4-lengths back. He got his final 1/16 in 7.23. Surprisingly, Code of Honor’s final 1/16 was 7.01, while Bourbon War’s late charge was timed in 6.48 and Vekoma’s in 6.97.

Hidden Scroll is the sixth foal and fourth to race in his immediate family. Although his immediate family has earned no blacktype, The colt’s second and third generations are filled with international turf routers. His dam is a half-sister to Starformer, who started her career in France, then won four graded stakes in the U.S. as an older horse, including the Grade 2 New York Stakes at 1 1/4 miles and the The Very One Stakes at 1 3/16 miles. She bore Flavius, an Irish listed winner at 1 1/4-miles. Hidden Scroll’s second dam is French Group 1 heroine Etoile Montaine, a turf miler who captured a pair of graded stakes in California and placed in the Grade 1 Matriarch behind Turf Champ Intercontinental. There are dirt blacktype winners farther back in Hidden Scroll’s pedigree, including Bowman’s Band and Pollard’s Vision.  

Hard Spun was best between seven furlongs and 1 1/8 miles. He captured the Kings Bishop (G1) and Kentucky Cup Classic (G2), but the game horse placed second at classic distances to Street Sense in the Kentucky Derby and second to Curlin in the Preakness and Breeders’ Cup Classic. Despite his shortcomings at 1 1/4 miles and farther, he’s sired five stakes winners at the routes, including Alabama heroine Questing, and the long-winded Hard Aces. Hidden Scroll’s damsire Empire Maker needs no introduction to most fans. The Belmont Stakes hero is noted for imparting stamina to his offspring. 

Derby Distance Verdict: YEP!
Hidden Scroll has the bloodlines to excel at classic distances, but is the Kentucky Derby trail too much too soon? He was fried on the front end in the Fountain of Youth, and perhaps if he had settled off the pace, there would have been a better result.  One thing’s for sure: The race certainly helped with his fitness, and he should be stronger in his next start. Every year we see lightly raced horses chewed up and spit out by the Kentucky Derby. There are exceptions, of course, but most are never the same after running in the classic. Maybe the connections will bypass Kentucky and point for the Preakness or Belmont Stakes. Hidden Scroll has the speed to handle the Preakness, and by June, may have the mindset to handle the Belmont. 
(Malibu Moon - Life Lesson, by Unbridled's Song)

Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Race Record: 4: 2-1-0 ($150,900)
Last Race: 2nd Tampa Bay Derby (G2)
Derby Points: 20

After an allowance victory at Gulfstream, the Todd Pletcher-trained Outshine followed in the hoofsteps of previous Kentucky Derby hopefuls from this barn by stepping up in the Tampa Bay Derby. The dark brown son of Malibu Moon settled a clear third in the early going. Outshine looked good coming around the final turn, but appeared to lose focus while racing outside. He regained momentum and passed rivals, but Tacitus had burst clear on the rail, beating Outshine by 1 1/4 lengths. 

Outshine is the fourth foal and first blacktype earner in his immediate family. His dam is a stakes placed turf sprinter. Second dam Wander Mom was a multiple stakes earner at 1 1/8 miles on turf. The third generation produced four stakes placed sprinters. 

Outshine is bred on the same bloodline cross as Pletcher trainee Magnum Moon, winner of last year’s Rebel and Arkansas Derby; multiple Grade 1-winning juvenile Moonshine Memories; and multiple graded stakes winner Farrell. The 2013 Kentucky Derby hero Orb is also by Malibu Moon and out of a daughter of Unbridled. 

Derby Distance Verdict: Borderline!
Outshine’s pedigree says 1 1/4 miles should be within his scope, and he has conformation to back it up. Yet, it takes more than pedigree and conformation to win races. Hard to quantify, “heart,”  the drive to win can’t be found on paper. You know it when you see it. Outshine is capable, as so many of Pletcher’s horses are, but is still maturing. How will he react when faced with stronger-minded horses like War of Will?
(Daaher - Sablah, by Distorted Humor)

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin
Race Record: 4: 3-1-0 ($298,900)
Last Race: 1st Gotham Stakes (G3)
Derby Points: 50

The late-closing Haikal took advantage of the suicidal early pace in the Gotham Stakes (G3). Through the stretch, it was a three-way battle between
Mind Control, Much Better and Instagrand, with Haikal a closing fourth. Strides before the wire, Haikal passed the staggering trio to win by a length. Trackus figures showed the bay son of Daaher ran evenly, with a late split of 24.39 for 3/4 mile, and he got his final furlong in a strong 12.49. Runner-up Mind Control’s final furlong was 13.39 and Instagrand’s 13.42. 

Haikal is a half-brother to 2017 Vosburgh (G1) hero Takaful, who also placed in the H. Allen Jerkens Stakes (G1), the Remsen (G2) and Toboggan (G3). The colt, along with two previous generations, is a Shadwell homebred, and his distaff line competed internationally mostly as sprinter/milers. 

Daaher, a son of Awesome Again, has six stakes winners, led by Grade 2 stakes-winning sprinter Gypsy Robin. His offspring are strongly distance-challenged, best as sprinter/milers. His sole exception is Our Caravan, who captured the listed Calder Derby at 1/18 miles on turf in 2014.  

Derby Distance Verdict: Nope!
 Haikal’s pedigree and conformation is that of a sprinter/miler. He could conceivably manage 1 1/8 miles if he gets a similar setup to the Gotham Stakes. 


(Big Brown - Marilyn Monroan, by Tapit)

Trainer: Mike Maker
Race Record: 7: 3-2-1 ($363,478)
Last Race: 1st Jeff Ruby Steaks 
Derby Points: 20

Creatively named Somelikeithotbrown gunned to the lead in the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) and turned away pace presser Five Star General in the stretch. The son of Big Brown staggered through the late running like he was in the last stages of a pub crawl, outlasting a challenge by Dynamic Racer to win by 3-1/4 lengths in 1:52.05, getting his final furlong in 14:21.

Somelikeithotbrown is the second foal and first blacktype earner in the first two generations of his distaff line. Class is known to jump a generation, and this is a good example, as we find Juvenile Champ Stevie Wonderboy and Grade 1 stakes-placed turf mare Theysken’s Theory in the third generation. Somelikeithotbrown’s dam went 0-for-8 in her career but placed twice on synthetics. Only two of six half-siblings were victorious, one at 1 5/16 miles on turf, and the other won on DQ at 1 1/16 miles on dirt. 

The offspring of Kentucky Derby and Preakness hero Big Brown are best up to 1 1/8 miles. His sole winner on dirt at 1 1/4 miles is Ground Transport, who captured a listed stakes at Belmont. Big Brown’s most accomplished runners include Santa Anita Derby winner Dortmund, and graded stakes-winning miler Kiss to Remember.

Derby Distance Verdict: Nope!
Somelikeithotbrown is already a winner at 1 1/8 miles, so he should handle an extra furlong, right? Well, the way he was weaving through the stretch and the dull final furlong of 14.21 is a strong indicator that an extra eighth of a mile is beyond his scope, at least over dirt or synthetics. Beating lesser horses is one thing, but how will he face against the top Derby contenders?


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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. 

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