This year's Kentucky Derby 2013 contenders represent some intriguing young sires - champions Midnight Lute and War Pass are among the more high-profile stallions whose progeny have made a mark on the Derby trail. HRN's Pedigree Guru, Laurie Ross and Managing Editor, Brian Zipse discuss which sires have the right stuff!
The offspring of three new sires, Midnight Lute, War Pass and Into Mischief have stamped themselves as contenders in the upcoming Kentucky Derby. So which sire has the best chance of bragging rights when the dust settles on May 4? That would be Midnight Lute. His sons Govenor Charlie, winner of the Sunland Derby, and Mylute, runner- up in the Louisiana Derby sit at #11 and #16 respectively in the Derby Points standings.
Why am I so confident in Midnight Lute's sons? I suspect the offspring of War Pass are distance challenged. Additionally, Java's War is a much better horse over turf and Polytrack rather than dirt. His only in the money finish over dirt in three starts was in the Tampa Bay Derby. War Pass' other son Revolutionary is well-bred, but barely held the long shot Excapefromreality in the Withers Stakes and the hard-charging Mylute in the Louisiana Derby.
Midnight Lute was an exceptionally fast sprinter. Many handicappers would dismiss a two-time sprint champion as classic sire. Most of the time they would be right. Except for three notable times when sons of Sprint Champs Gulch (Thunder Gulch), Bold Ruler (Secretariat) and Tom Fool (Tim Tam) wore the roses.
Midnight Lute has a good chance to join this elite group. First of all, he wasn't bred to be a sprinter. His sire Real Quiet came within a nostril of winning the Triple Crown. While his dam was unraced, Midnight Lute's second dam won at 1 ½ miles. Toss in necessary speed from his Juvenile Champion damsire, and you get a lethal turn of foot which was unmatched in two Breeders' Cup Sprints.
Midnight Lute's progeny are burning up the track. His son, Govenor Charlie (Midnight Lute - Silverbulletway, by Storm Cat) is now Bob Baffert's only shot at the Kentucky Derby. Baffert trained Govenor Charlie's sire and second dam, the Champion mare, Silverbulletday, so he knows Govenor Charlie's potential. The lightly raced colt proved his class with a runaway track record victory in the Sunland Derby. His final time of 1:47.54 is the fastest nine furlongs in the Derby prep races.
Govenor Charlie will follow in the hoof prints of other late-blooming lightly raced Baffert specials, Bodemeister – runner up in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, Paynter, who suffered a heartbreaking neck defeat in the Belmont Stakes and Indian Charlie, beaten less than three lengths by his stablemate Real Quiet in the Kentucky Derby. Govenor Charlie has the pedigree to get 1 ¼ miles and he'll have 40 days between races to recoup. The dark bay's trainer has won three Kentucky Derbies, plus he's trained assorted Classic runner- ups. In the Derby, Govenor Charlie will likely be paired with his regular rider Martin Garcia who teamed with Lookin At Lucky for a Preakness victory in 2010.
Midnight Lute's son Mylute (Midnight Lute - Stage Stop, by Valid Expectations) is no slouch either. He'll enter the Derby starting gate with a solid foundation of nine starts under his girth. While his female family isn't as illustrious as that of his rival Revolutionary, Mylute's dam was one of those good horses who could handle every surface. Dirt, mud, turf, rolling marbles, whatever was tossed at her. She was a tough competitor on the track, compiling a 16-2-6-3 record, most of those races were stakes conducted between 5 ½ furlongs to 1 1/16 miles. Mylute's pedigree contains a blend of stamina and speed. His sire and second damsire Kentucky Derby hero Strike The Gold offer the lungs, while damsire Valid Expectations lends an affinity for speed.
Mylute resembled his sire during the running of the Louisiana Derby. Between the first and second call, he made up six lengths while going six wide. Making only his second start of the season, Mylute just missed beating Revolutionary by a neck. Half a step past the finish line, he was in front. Mylute's speed figures have improved in his last six starts and the pretty gray colt will be making his third start off of a layoff in the Derby. His jockey Rosie Napravnik has won a Kentucky Oaks and finished ninth in the 2011 Derby aboard the long shot Pants On Fire.
No matter how well-bred or fast these sons of Midnight Lute and War Pass are, they'll still need a perfect trip to win the Kentucky Derby. This race isn't always to the swiftest, just the luckiest.
The fact that three first-crop sires have all found big success in the prep season resulting in all three having a pair qualify for the 2013 Kentucky Derby, is pretty amazing, isn’t it? While War Pass, Into Mischief, and Midnight Lute each will have serious contenders in the big race, I am firmly on the side of the ill-fated War Pass as the one with the best opportunity to see one of his sons, Revolutionary or Java’s War draped in roses on May 4.
I will answer your concerns on Revolutionary and Java’s War a bit later, but first I must say that I am much more worried about Govenor Charlie and Mylute getting the Derby distance. If you look at each of the latter’s quality races, you will see a horse that could not sustain his rally all the way to the wire. That’s not a good sign for Louisville. Govenor Charlie, meanwhile, has only run three times. If Curlin could not do it, aren’t you asking way too much of a colt who only won a stake in New Mexico, against very little, and on a track that was lightning fast?
I agree with you there, you know as well as I do that sometimes quality sires can produce horses that can do things that they did not. Both War Pass and Midnight Lute were brilliant runners who found most of their success around one-turn, but that does not mean that one or both of them cannot produce a horse that can excel going longer … such as in the Kentucky Derby.
War Pass also has plenty of quality in his immediate pedigree, such as Blushing Groom, Runaway Groom, Mr. Prospector, Raise a Native, and Hoist of the Flag … all who have produced horses that could handle a route of ground. But perhaps more importantly for this discussion, as we are only talking about the chances of four colts in the Derby, is the female side of each of their pedigrees. In Revolutionary and Java’s War, I like what I see on the female side.
Not only has Revolutinary proved to be full of class already on the racetrack with three straight impressive wins, but he comes from a phenomenal family. From his Alabama winning dam, Runup the Colors, to the all-time great foundation mare, La Troienne, this family tree is pure hickory. With female influences like Up the Flagpole, a full sister to Prospector’s Delite, and the excellent Herbager mare, The Garden Club, working its way back to La Troienne, Revolutionary has so many good horses in his pedigree; it would have been a surprise if he did not have serious talent.
After an impressive maiden romp, Revolutionary showed the kind of ability to overcome trouble that will be very useful in the Derby. His trip in the Withers was absolutely horrid. He should not have won, yet somehow, he did. Shipping far from home for his next one, Revolutionary overcame a slow break in a large field to circle a solid field at Fair Grounds. I loved the way he seemed to find another gear late to dismiss his main challenge. And don’t forget who he was turning away late in the Louisiana Derby … one of your horses, Mylute. Of all 20 horse pointing for the Run for the Roses, Revolutionary is the one I like the most.
Just as Revolutionary’s female side gives me every belief that he can handle ten furlongs, so does that of Java’s War. You don’t have to look far in his pedigree to see pure stamina. His broodmare sire is Rainbow Quest, who excelled at races of twelve furlongs, and was the 1985 winner of the world’s most prestigious 1 ½ mile race, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. As a sire, Rainbow Quest sired numerous classic winners, and has been every bit as effective as a broodmare sire, twice winning that title in Europe. I have no doubt that Java’s War will handle the mile-and-a-quarter distance on the first Saturday in May.;
While Java’s War has yet to win on dirt, I honestly don’t believe we can make assumptions on his ability to not handle it. From his sire line, he gets plenty of dirt influence, and in his only dirt race this year, he ran a fast-closing second to Verrazano in the Tampa Bay Derby. A promising stakes winner as a juvenile, Java’s War has seemed to step it up a notch at three. After Tampa, his race in the Blue Grass was visually impressive. Last-to-first in a grade 1 race is never easy, especially in a 14-horse field, and keep in mind, he was still 14th on the far turn. He’ll need a solid pace in the Derby to win the whole thing, but I would be surprised if he wasn’t passing horses in the stretch.
And on that, again we can agree. The Kentucky Derby is the most demanding horse race in America … wishing them all good luck, and most importantly a safe trip!