Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, April 20, 2018 at 2:01 PM
Jim Hurley’s Derby Doings – Friday, April 20
The first question that any handicapper or bettor has to ask about the Kentucky Derby is simple. Which 3-year old that has never run a mile and a quarter will run a mile and a quarter.
There are many ways to approach this. One can search through the running lines in the past performances of the Derby Preps and determine if the colt has shown in his final quarter mile that he mirrors what previous Kentucky Derby winners have done in their final quarter mile efforts.
I’ll go more into this in subsequent preview articles but basically the Kentucky Derby running style profile shows that by the 3/16ths marker the eventual winner must be no further off the leader than 4-5 lengths. How to extrapolate a mile and an eighth prep performance into this scenario is crucial.
Another aspect of this analysis is the “eye test,” how was the horse striding out in the stretch at a mile and an eighth? Did the contender get good position early enough and utilize tactical speed and versatility that might project into a continued run during that extra furlong of the long Churchill Downs stretch.
All of this is of course subjective when projecting what a colt will do when he has never done it before.
For me, any of these pieces to the equation are vital. But when it comes to projecting which horses “have the breeding” to get the distance, one of my first default stops is the chefs-de-race “bulletin board” and pinned there center top is Raise A Native.
A son of Horse of the Year and top influence sire himself, Native Dancer, Raise A Native was an undefeated racehorse who wasted little time showcasing his brilliance. In 1963 he was crowned champion two-year-old colt and was the highest rated juvenile in the Experimental Free Handicap.
By the time his stud career was finished he had sired 74 stakes winners. When he passed away in 1988 at the age of 27 his NY Times obituary called him "the most influential sire of American Thoroughbred stallions over the last 20 years".
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(FROM THE BREEDING SHED TO THE CHURCHILL DOWNS INFIELD ON DERBY DAY…RAISE A NATIVE’S DOMINANCE LIVES ON)
As I noted, on the race track the public got to see his brilliance as he won all four of his juvenile starts in 1963.
Unfortunately for the racing public his career ended just as the anticipation was building when he sustained a bowed tender at the end of that season.
Ah, but how he lived on in the breeding shed.
The list of Kentucky Derby winners that traces back to Raise A Native influence is startling.
As of last year there have been 20 Kentucky Derby winners that link back to Raise A Native on the sire line. They are American Pharoah, Always Dreaming, I'll Have Another, Super Saver, Big Brown, Smarty Jones, Funny Cide, War Emblem, Monarchos, Fusaichi Pegasus, Real Quiet, Grindstone, Thunder Gulch, Strike the Gold, Unbridled, Alysheba, Genuine Risk, Affirmed, Street Sense, and Majestic Prince.
On the broodmare side of the equation there were Mine That Bird, Barbaro and Real Quiet.
Going back to 1980 and Genuine Risk that amounts to 21 winners in the last 38 editions of the Kentucky Derby.
That is quite a roster. And guess what, Raise A native has another roster in 2018.
Taking a random look for instance at “The Derby Dozen” an important weekly updated preview column from Steve Haskin we find the following.
Vino Rosso and Good Magic, each of whom are sired by Curlin, who traces back to Smart Strike, Mr. Prospector and Raise A Native.
Magnum Moon, whose dam Macoumba traces back through her sire Malibu Moon to Mr. Prospector and Raise A Native.
Quip, whose sire Distorted Humor goes back through Forty Niner to Mr. Prospector to Raise A Native.
My Boy Jack, whose dam Gold N Shaft is a daughter of Mineshaft who himself goes back through Mr. Prospector and Raise A Native.
Enticed, whose dam It’s Tricky is also a daughter of Mineshaft who himself goes back through Mr. Prospector and Raise A Native.
Flameaway is another from the broodmare side. His dam Vulcan Rose was a daughter of Fusaichi Pegasus who had the same Mr. Prospector and Raise A Native connection.
As you read this you might be forgiven if you ask, why not just give credit to Mr. Prospector? Fair enough…but I will give credit where credit is due. And it was Raise A Native who begot Mr. Prospector.
To repeat, I consider this bloodline aspect very important. I often start my short list here.
In my next installment I’ll address the running style profile of the current Kentucky derby contenders and measure them up against the profiles of previous winners.
I’ll also take a look at another very important separation factor, which is the average winning distance of the sire and dam sire of each contender.
I’ll return to these pages on Monday.