Let's pretend we're in a time machine, a horse racing time machine. We'll go back to 1973. the biggest question going into the Derby this year was could Lucien Laurin's trainee Secretariat get the mile and a quarter distance? Being the son of the great Bold Ruler, questions abound about whether or not Secretariat could endure the grueling mile and a quarter Derby. Bold Ruler was known for translating his speed to his progeny but none of them up until Secretariat had the stamina for the classic distance. A closer look into Secretariat's pedigree gives us a glimpse why.
Secretariat was out of the Princequillo mare Somethingroyal. The Irish bred Princequillo was a phenom at the longer distance races and, in fact ,set the track record at Saratoga for One mile and five eighth's. Next to Kelso, Princequillo was known to be one of the greatest ever at long distance races. This could possibly explain why Secretariat was able to carry his talent to longer distances and, become arguably, the greatest horse of all time.
Sometimes we have to look a little deeper than the sire to make a determination on whether or not a contender can “Go The Distance.”
Now back to the future, let's get “Down and Derby” and check out this week's spotlight horses;
This son of Distorted Humor has already stamped his mark as a major contender by winning the Sam F. Davis stakes by four lengths in hand at Tampa Bay Downs. The Sam F. Davis is run at the distance of a mile and one sixteenth, It has been used as a major prep race for the Tampa Bay Derby and The Kentucky Derby. Brethren has been ultra impressive in only three career starts and is undefeated. But can he stretch out and get the classic Derby distance of a mile and a quarter?
As previously mentioned Brethren is out of Distorted Humor. Distorted Humor himself was best at a distance of one mile but his progeny have been able to stretch out much further. Distorted Humor is the sire of Drosselmeyer who won last year's running of the Belmont Stakes. The Humorous one also sired the “Gutsy Gelding” Funny Cide, who won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes before being defeated in the Belmont Stakes by Empire Maker. Distorted Humor is the sire of Any Given Saturday, who won the Grade I Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park at distance of a mile and one eighth, defeating Preakness winner Curlin, the 2007 Breeder's Cup Classic winner and Horse of the Year in 2007 and 2008. Distorted Humor also sired Grade I winners Flower Alley, and Commentator as well as multiple grade II winners Regal Ransom and Hysterical Lady.
Now let's take a peek at Brethren's dam: Supercharger. Supercharger has royal bloodlines herself being sired by the great A.P. Indy, out of the Mr. Prospector mare Get Lucky.
Get Lucky was bred a number of times to A.P. Indy, producing stakes winners; Girolamo, Daydreaming, and Accelerator, as well as daughter She's A Winner, the dam of the grade I winning colt Bluegrass Cat. If you look back to last years Kentucky Derby and it's winner's pedigree, you see the name “Supercharger”. Supercharger was the dam of Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver, sired by Maria‘s Mon. It was Super Saver under the rail skimming ride of Calvin Borel who marched on to a two and one half length score over Ice Box in last year's Kentucky Derby. So not only does Brethren have a sire who has produced a Kentucky Derby winner, he also has a dam who has produced a derby winner.
With a little luck this half brother of Super Saver could find himself giving Todd Pletcher his second Derby win.
This speedy Bill Mott trainee is already a multiple grade II winner, first with an impressive four length win in the grade II Nashua stakes at the mile distance at Aqueduct race track. He followed that win with another dominating two length score in the grade II Remsen stakes ran at a mile and an eighth.
To Honor and Serve is sired by Bernardini. Bernardini was a tremendous race horse who ran off a string of graded stakes wins, First being the Withers, followed by the Preakness, Jim Dandy, The Travers, and the Jockey Club Gold Cup before eventually being defeated in the Breeders Cup Classic by Invasor. Bernardini is a relatively young sire who has already sired two grade I winners in Biondetti and A.Z. Warrior, as well as Hopeful runner-up, Stay Thirsty. Bernardini himself was regally bred, the son of Breeders Cup Classic winner A.P. Indy who himself has sired multiple grade I winners and champions.
The dam of To Honor and Serve is Pilfer. Pilfer, in her short race career recorded 3 wins in 11 starts and earned $126,000. She is sired by Deputy Minister who has produced three champions in Open Mind , Go for Wand, and Dehere. The Minister also sired Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Awesome Again, not to mention the mare Better Than Honour who produced two Belmont Stakes winners in Jazil and champion filly Rags to Riches. The dam of Pilfer is Misty Hour who produced multiple graded stakes winner India.
To Honor and Serve's blood lines are regal with stakes winners galore. The distance might not be the biggest question. The bigger question might be whether or not To Honor And Serve can rate, something he hasn't done in his four starts to date. If To Honor and Serve shows the ability to rate, he could prove tough to beat come the first Saturday in May.
This lightly raced colt is coming off his first start in 2011, a fast closing 2nd place finish in yesterday's San Vicente to the highly touted Bob Baffert trainee The Factor. Sway Away lagged far behind the pace in this 7 furlong affair and closed like a freight train to get beaten just under a length. Sway Away made just two starts as a two year old for trainer Jeff Bonde, an eye popping maiden win at Pleasanton race track and a fast closing second in the grade II Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar. Sway Away has yet to stretch out to two turns, but his running style and pedigree suggest he will relish two turns.
Sway Away is Sired by Afleet Alex. Afleet Alex the race horse was an incredible machine winning at distances ranging from six furlongs to a mile and a half, in winning such classic races as the Preakness and the Belmont stakes. He had a ferocious late kick and the heart of a champion. His Preakness win is still considered one of the most remarkable races of all time. At the top of the stretch Scrappy T, leading the race, lugged out and into the path of the fast closing Afleet Alex, causing him to go to his knees. Quickly, Alex caught himself and recovered to go on and take the Preakness by four and three quarter lengths. Already in his first few crops, Afleet Alex passed his talent and fight on to his son grade I winner Afleet Express who took last year's Travers Stakes. Alex has also produced grade III winner Afleet Again. Afleet Alex has also sired Elite Alex who is on the derby trail for trainer Tim Ritchey.
So for Sway Away, let's hope it's in the blood and he lives up to his ancestory and maybe then we'll see this son of Afleet Alex in the derby.