Weekend Winners Club

May 03 2017

2017 Kentucky Derby Contender Sires and Sirelines

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Wednesday, May 3
Churchill Downs
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Today we’ll look at a brief analysis of the sires of this year’s Kentucky Derby. Judging the relevance of the sires in this race goes way beyond what the sires cost or even how many winners they have. For example, Storm Cat was the most prolific, and at one time the most expensive sire in North America, for decades, and never had a Kentucky Derby winner.
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Get the full 2017 Kentucky Derby Grid Here with over 80 different factors including pedigree, performance, and historical criteria!
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The graphic below shows you something more relevant: How the actual sires did in Triple Crown races and other major races during their own career. For the discussion, we’ll start with the most relevant sires overall and work down from there.
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2017 Kentucky Derby Sires and their accomplishments

2017 Kentucky Derby Sires and their accomplishments


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Irish War Cry: Curlin (Smart Strike, RAN) is one of the most successful young sires in North America and commands a heavy stud fee. The reason is that he is already from a successful sire line, and proved his worth on the track. He finished 3rd, 1st, and 2nd in his Triple Crown series, won the BC Classic and other Grade 1 races. He was horse of the year honors as a 3yo and older male, and is the quintessential Triple Crown sire.
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Note: The RAN sireline is responsible for 13 of the last 24 Kentucky Derby champions, and typically has about 25% of the field. This year there are a whopping 7 in the Derby field. His last win was American Pharoah who became the first Triple Crown champion since 1978.
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Raise a Native, founder of sireline with 20 Kentucky Derby champions

Raise a Native, founder of sireline with 20 Kentucky Derby champions


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Always Dreaming: Bodemeister (Empire Maker, RAN) would have won Kentucky Derby and Preakness if it hadn’t been for a horse called I’ll Have Another, catching him just in time in both races. His sire finished in the money in all 3 TC races and won the Belmont. Bode was retired before ever racing again.
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Classic Empire: Pioneerof the Nile (Empire Maker, RAN) was all set to follow in his father’s footsteps, winning the Santa Anita Derby, then finishing a disappointing 2nd to long shot Mine that Bird in the Kentucky Derby. However, he struggled in the Preakness and was retired 2 months later.
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Lookin at Lee: Lookin at Lucky (Smart Strike, RAN) was a solid 6th in the Kentucky Derby, and turned the tables to win the Preakness. He skipped the Belmont and went on to win the Haskell and Indiana Derby, and retired before the BC Classic. However, he still won 3yo American horse of the year honors, to go along with his 2yo champion award.
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Battle of Midway: Smart Strike (Mr. Prospector, RAN) was not a heavily raced horse and retired early due to injury. However, as evidenced by his sire and his offspring such as Curlin, he has passed on some good classic racing genes here and there.
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Gormley: Malibu Moon (AP Indy, BR) is a top 5 North American sire, who finally proved he was a direct descendant of AP Indy by spawning Kentucky Derby champion Orb a few years ago. He did nothing on the race track and was retired early, however clearly still has some great TC genes.
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Hence: Street Boss (Street Cry, RAN) was dangerous as a sprinter, winning two G1 races and finishing 3rd in the BC sprint. His half brother Street Sense was a 2yo champ who also won the Kentucky Derby. His sire is from the formidable Mr. Prospector branch of the RAN sireline.
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Sonneteer: Midnight Lute (Real Quiet, RAN) was a successful sprinter on the track, and wound up as the year’s sprint champion after winning the BC Sprint. People sometimes forget that his sire Real Quiet came within a nostril of becoming the first Triple Crown Champion since 1978 after winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, and losing the Belmont in a photo finish. Real Quiet was also a champion older male with several G1 wins.
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Patch: Union Rags (Dixie Union, ND) finished 7th in the Kentucky Derby, then redeemed himself by winning the Belmont Stakes after the defection of I’ll Have Another. He is a young sire with potential.
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Girvin: Tale of Ekati (Take of the Cat, SC) finished a strong 4th in the Kentucky Derby and 6th in the Belmont. He also won the Wood before that, and afterwards won the Cigar Mile. As mentioned, no horse by Storm Cat has ever on the Derby, but many have finished in the money.
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Gunnevera: Dialed In (Mineshaft, API) was the Kentucky Derby favorite after winning the Florida, but wound up finishing 8th, then racing 4th in the Preakness. Regardless, it gave Mineshaft crops Triple Crown hopes. We’ll cover Mineshaft in more detail below.
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J Boys Echo: Mineshaft (AP Indy, BR) is the latest great one in the Bold Ruler sireline that included Seattle Slew and AP Indy. Mineshaft got a late start in US racing after transferring from Great Britain, and was busy breaking his maiden while others were running in TC races. In his 4 year old season he dominated and won US horse of the year and champion older male honors.
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Irap: Tiznow (Cee’s Tizzy, IR) was another late bloomer, missing his 2yo year with a leg injury, and finally breaking his maiden after the Derby was already run. Later on that year he won the Louisiana Super Derby and BC Classic and won 3yo horse of the year honors anyway. The next year he would win more races and the BC Classic again, making him the only repeat champion in Breeders Cup history. Despite his on-track success, he has been mostly a non-factor as a sire in TC races, other than lucky Belmont winner Da Tara.
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McCraken: Ghostzapper (Awesome Again, ND) was another late blooming horse, running primarily in sprint races as a 3yo. However, as his distance increased he proved just as formidable, becoming unbeatable at distances up to 9f. In fact, he proved to be occasionally great at 10f as well, winning the BC Classic and HOY honors as a 4yo. He currently has no relevance as a TC sire, but could soon.
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State of Honor: To Honor and Serve (Bernardini, API) was not a factor in Triple Crown races, however he did go on to win big races, including the Penn Derby, Woodward, and Cigar Mile. His sire Bernardini won the Preakness following the injury of Barbaro, making him a relevant TC sire.
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Thunder Snow: Helmet (Exceed and Excel, ND) is also from the Danzig line of Northern Dancer, with a branch that ended up in Australia. He was a multiple Group 1 stakes winner in another hemisphere. Helmet is a relative unknown in America.
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Practical Joke: Into Mischief (Harlan’s Holiday) was successful as a 2yo in winning some futurities. His sire Harlan’s Holiday was favored in the Kentucky Derby but finished 7th, and then 4th to War Emblem in the Preakness, then later won the Penn Derby and G1 Donn Handicap.
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Tapwrit: Tapit (Pulpit, API) was one of the most overrated TC horses ever, being hyped up greatly after winning the Wood, before finishing 9th in the Derby. He has been a successful sire thus far, with his overhyped Tapwrit being the most expensive auctioned colt in the field at $1.2 million.
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Fast and Accurate: Hansen (Tapit, API) was another highly overhyped horse of modern times. Once called The Great White Hope (Hype), he was very impressive as a 2yo, later finishing 9th in the Kentucky Derby just like Tapit.
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Untrapped: Trappe Shot (Tapit, API) was another overhyped Tapit horse that was not a factor in the Tripe Crown. However, he did bloom enough to win a prep en route to finishing 2nd in the Haskell. They keep selling this Tapit line of API but I’m not buying it.
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Royal Mo is listed here last because he’s an alternate: Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie, In Excess) was another overhyped sire with lots of sprinters running around the US, until Nyquist won the Kentucky Derby last year in a field that featured 2 other Uncle Mo colts. Uncle Mo was the 2yo champ and favored in the Wood at odds of 1-10, and was eventually diagnosed with a liver disorder, which was his main excuse. His sire Indian Charlie finished 3rd in the Kentucky Derby and was an excellent sprinter and miler.
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Local Hero (2nd alternate): Hard Spun (Danzig, ND) is from a sprinter sire line not normally associated with Triple Crown or classic pedigree, but again let’s look at what he did on the track. He’s only other sire in this year’s field to finish in the money in all 3 TC races, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. He also finished 2nd in the BC Classic and won some other graded stakes races.
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Key:
API: AP Indy sireline (from Seattle Slew/Bold Ruler)
IR: In Reality sireline (Intent)
ND: Northern Dancer sireline
RAN: Raise a Native sireline
SC: Storm Cat sireline
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