Common Threads III: Linking the 2020 Kentucky Derby field to past Derby winners

Aug 24, 2020 Vance Hanson/

In our third annual look at commonalities that link this year's hopefuls with one or more past winners of America's most famous race, here are some nuggets and factoids to chew on involving potential starters for the 2020 Kentucky Derby (G1).

ART COLLECTOR enters off back-to-back wins in the Blue Grass (G2) at Keeneland and the Ellis Park Derby. The last Derby winner to have won at least two stakes in Kentucky before taking the Churchill Downs classic was Clyde Van Dusen (1929), who captured the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill the previous year as well as two other stakes in Lexington.

ATTACHMENT RATE was bred in Virginia, a commonwealth that has produced earlier Derby winners Reigh Count (1928), Secretariat (1973), Pleasant Colony (1981), and Sea Hero (1993).

AUTHENTIC counts as his grandsire Harlan's Holiday, the beaten Kentucky Derby favorite in 2002. Always Dreaming (2017) is the last Derby winner whose grandsire lost the race as the favorite, in his case Empire Maker in 2003.

CARCARO, as one of several Travers (G1) participants in the field, has already negotiated the Derby distance of 1 1/4 miles. The last Derby winner with previous experience over 10 furlongs was Canonero II (1971), who twice raced the distance in Venezuela.

DR POST won the Unbridled S. at Gulfstream Park earlier this year, but has yet to taste graded stakes glory. The last two stakes winners to have earned their first graded victory in the Kentucky Derby were Funny Cide (2003) and Ferdinand (1986).

ENFORCEABLE is trained by Mark Casse, who was voted into the U.S. Racing Hall of Fame this year (though he'll have to wait until 2021 for his formal induction due to the COVID-19 pandemic). Neil Drysdale was the last trainer to win the Derby in the year of his induction into the Hall of Fame, in 2000 with Fusaichi Pegasus.

FINNICK THE FIERCE enters off a non-competitive seventh-place finish in the Blue Grass. The last horse to win the Derby off an unplaced effort in Keeneland's signature event for 3-year-olds was Thunder Gulch, who ran fourth in 1995.

HONOR A. P. has been ridden exclusively by Mike Smith, who also exclusively rode trainer John Shirreffs' previous Kentucky Derby winner, Giacomo (2005), prior to the Run for the Roses.

KING GUILLERMO will attempt to win the Derby off a four-month layoff, the equivalent of a horse making his final prep on the first weekend in January for a Derby normally held on the first Saturday in May. The last horse to win the Derby off a layoff as long or longer was Morvich (1922), who had last run in November.

MAJOR FED is a son of Ghostzapper, the 2004 Horse of the Year. Swale (1984), by Seattle Slew, was the last Derby winner sired by a Horse of the Year.

MAX PLAYER earlier this year won the Withers (G3), a race that for much of its history was run after the Kentucky Derby. The last horse to win both the Derby and Withers was Count Fleet (1943).

MONEY MOVES, if he makes it into the starting gate, will attempt to become the first horse since Exterminator (1918) to win the Kentucky Derby in his stakes debut.

NECKER ISLAND owns two wins over the Churchill Downs strip, but has also lost his last two starts over the surface. The last Derby winner who had lost his previous two attempts at Churchill was Real Quiet (1998), who actually possessed a 0-for-3 mark in Louisville.

NY TRAFFIC is by Cross Traffic, whose signature victory occurred in the 2013 Whitney (G1). Silver Charm (1997) was the last Derby winner sired by a horse who won the Whitney: Silver Buck.

RUSHIE, one of several gray/roans in the prospective field, looks to follow in the hoof steps of Giacomo (2005), Monarchos (2001), Silver Charm (1997), Winning Colors (1988), and Spectacular Bid (1979) as gray/roan Derby winners of the past half-century.

SHIRL'S SPEIGHT has made but two starts, both in Canada, and would become the first horse ever to win the Derby without having raced in the U.S. However, Mine That Bird (2009), Sunny's Halo (1983), and Northern Dancer (1964) are previous Derby winners who won stakes north of the border prior to the Derby.

SOLE VOLANTE earned his first stakes win on turf at Gulfstream Park last fall in the Pulpit. Barbaro (2006) won the Laurel Futurity and Tropical Park Derby (G3) on grass before wearing the roses in 2006.

STORM THE COURT will be a longshot to complete the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1)/Kentucky Derby double, achieved twice previously with Street Sense (2007) and Nyquist (2016).

THOUSAND WORDS has won a stakes at all three major Southern California tracks (Santa Anita, Del Mar, and Los Alamitos). California Chrome (2014) was the last Derby winner to have won stakes at all three major Southern California, with the now-defunct Hollywood Park substituting for Los Alamitos in his case.

TIZ THE LAW shares an obvious and well-known commonality with Funny Cide (2003), also owned by Sackatoga Stable and trained by Barclay Tagg. Perhaps more interesting is that the reigning Belmont Stakes (G1) winner will attempt to become the first previous classic winner to take the Derby since Gallant Fox (1930), who won the Preakness at Pimlico prior to his arrival at Churchill Downs.

WINNING IMPRESSION was disqualified from an allowance victory in April, and thus officially only has one career win. That was also the case with Alysheba (1987), who was disqualified from first in the Blue Grass (G1) nine days before scoring under the Twin Spires.

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