Pedigree fun facts: 2020 Kentucky Derby

Sep 02, 2020 Kellie Reilly/

Although we’re in novel circumstances with a Kentucky Derby (G1) on Labor Day weekend, the pedigrees of the 18 entrants bring us back to familiar territory. Derby winners factor in the sire lines of 15 contenders, even the three exceptions trace to beaten Derby favorites, and the dams contribute further connections.
Sire lines
Saturday’s odds-on favorite, Tiz the Law, is one of six runners representing the sire line of 1977 Triple Crown legend Seattle Slew. All descend from Slew’s Hall of Fame son A. P. Indy, who had to scratch with a quarter crack on the morning of the 1992 Derby. 
A. P. Indy is the sire of champion Honor Code, sire of Derby contenders Honor A. P. and Max Player in his first crop. A. P. Indy’s grandson Tapit has Enforceable, and the Tapit stallion Constitution sired the well-named Tiz the Law. Two of A. P. Indy’s champions appear as paternal grandsires – Mineshaft, for Finnick the Fierce (by Dialed In, unplaced as the 2011 Derby favorite), and Bernardini, for South Bend (by Algorithms). Bernardini was himself the sire of a leading hope in Art Collector, who unfortunately was ruled out right before entry time due to a minor foot issue.
Supersire Northern Dancer, the 1964 Derby and Preakness hero, has seven male-line descendants in the field. Three are scions of the Storm Cat branch – Authentic, by leading sire Into Mischief (in turn a son of beaten 2002 Derby favorite Harlan’s Holiday); Sole Volante, whose sire Karakontie is by the Storm Cat stallion Bernstein; and Mr. Big News, by Storm Cat’s greatest son, Giant’s Causeway. 
Hard Spun, the 2007 Derby runner-up by internationally renowned Danzig, has two chances in Attachment Rate and Necker Island. The other Northern Dancers both come from the line of Deputy Minister’s son Awesome Again, via his Hall of Famer Ghostzapper in the case of Major Fed and Paynter for Winning Impression.
Of the four who descend from the patriarch Mr. Prospector, two are by grandsons of 1990 Derby champion Unbridled. Thousand Words is by Pioneerof the Nile, best known as the sire of Triple Crown star American Pharoah. Pioneerof the Nile, himself the 2009 Derby runner-up, was in turn by 2003 Derby runner-up Empire Maker, by Unbridled. Ny Traffic goes back to another beaten Derby favorite by Unbridled, Unbridled’s Song. Fifth in the 1996 running, Unbridled’s Song is the sire of Cross Traffic, sire of Ny Traffic.
The other two male-line descendants of “Mr. P” trace to horses who lost in the Derby. Storm the Court’s sire and grandsire, Court Vision and Gulch respectively, were unplaced in their years (2008 and 1987). Cryptoclearance, fourth in that same 1987 Derby, is the great-grandsire of Money Moves (by Candy Ride). And Mr. Prospector himself is a paternal grandson of one of the greatest horses ever to be upset in the Derby, Native Dancer (1953), who suffered his only career loss by a head at Churchill Downs.
King Guillermo represents a less numerous line being boosted by his sire, Uncle Mo. The champion 2-year-old colt of 2010 who missed the 2011 Derby due to illness, Uncle Mo is by Indian Charlie, third as the favorite in the 1998 running. Indian Charlie is by Irish-bred In Excess, a descendant of Caro (sire of 1988 Derby-winning filly Winning Colors). This is another branch of the line of *Nasrullah, arising from his British-bred son Grey Sovereign. (*Nasrullah’s most prolific U.S. influences are his sons Bold Ruler and Nashua, Bold Ruler as the sire of Secretariat and ancestor of Seattle Slew, and Nashua as the broodmare sire of Mr. P.). 
Broodmare sires
Champion Afleet Alex, third here in 2005 before crushing the Preakness and Belmont, is the broodmare sire of Attachment Rate. Storm the Court is out of a mare by Tejano Run, the 1995 Derby runner-up, and Proud Citizen, the second-placer in 2002, is the broodmare sire of Money Moves
Three other broodmare sires were unplaced in the Derby – Winning Impression’s dam is by the aforementioned Unbridled’s Song, while Ny Traffic is out of a mare by Graeme Hall (2000) and South Bend’s damsire is Old Trieste (1998). Thus South Bend descends from A. P. Indy on both top and bottom, resulting in a close inbreeding pattern. 
Sole Volante sports inbreeding to the great miler Miesque, who likewise appears in the pedigrees of both his sire Karakontie and broodmare sire Kingmambo. While Miesque is the ancestress of Karakontie, she is the dam of Kingmambo, a star European miler himself.
Mr. Big News is out of a mare by European phenom Galileo, identified with success in the Epsom Derby (G1) rather than its Kentucky version. Galileo tried dirt in the 2001 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), where he finished sixth behind the lion-hearted repeat winner Tiznow, the broodmare sire of Tiz the Law
King Guillermo’s broodmare sire, Dixieland Band, has sired the dams of two Derby winners in Monarchos (2001) and Street Sense (2007). Because King Guillermo’s sire, Uncle Mo, also has Dixieland Band in his pedigree, King Guillermo is inbred to him. Max Player is out of a mare by Not for Love, the same broodmare sire as 2014 Derby champ California Chrome. Major Fed’s dam is by Smart Strike, broodmare sire of 2009 Derby shocker Mine That Bird.
Two Derby contenders were produced by Mr. Greeley mares, Authentic and Necker Island. Although more associated with speed, Mr. Greeley came close to becoming a Derby-winning broodmare sire when Closing Argument missed narrowly in 2005.
Female lines
Sole Volante’s dam is a full sister to 2007 Epsom Oaks (G1) victress Light Shift, from the deep family of European star Ulysses as well as dual Eclipse Award champion Main Sequence. Further back, this 4-m tribe boasts a total of five Derby winners, from Day Star (1878), Lawrin (1938), Middleground (1950), and Venetian Way (1960) to Sunny’s Halo (1983). 
Enforceable is a full brother to Mohaymen, the fourth-placer in the 2016 Derby, and a half-brother to New Year’s Day, sire of the 2019 demotee Maximum Security. New Year’s Day, Mohaymen, and Enforceable were all produced by multiple Grade 2 queen Justwhistledixie, the second-favorite in Rachel Alexandra’s Kentucky Oaks who was withdrawn with a bruised foot. From the 8-c family, Justwhistledixie traces to Bold Irish, ancestress of the legendary Ruffian as well as Derby winners Fusaichi Pegasus (2000) and Orb (2013). 
Honor A. P., an $850,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling, is out of multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Hollywood Story. A descendant of brilliant Hall of Famer Myrtlewood, like Mr. Prospector and Seattle Slew, he belongs to the 13-c family that’s also responsible for Derby winners Jet Pilot (1947) and Ferdinand (1986). 
Major Fed hails from the same female line as two-time Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) heroine Treve. They go back to another European star distaffer in Trillion, the U.S. champion turf mare of 1979, who herself traces to a full sister to 1930 Triple Crown sweeper Gallant Fox. At a much further remove, this 4-n family is also responsible for 1971 Derby upsetter Canonero II.
King Guillermo is counted among the 9-f family, whose descendants include 1976 Derby and Belmont champion Bold Forbes and last year’s promoted winner Country House. Such is the proliferation of branches of that family, however, that their common ancestress is remote – in the late 19th century. 
South Bend comes from the family of Hall of Famer Twenty Grand, the 1931 Derby and Belmont hero. Early in the 20th century, this 5-g family produced a pair of Derby winners in Elwood (1904) and Sir Huon (1906). 
Mr. Big News’s granddam is a full sister to champions Glorious Song and Devil’s Bag. They have a common ancestress, far back in the 12-c family, with 1933 Derby winner Brokers Tip.
Authentic descends from a female line that’s produced several Grade/Group 1 winners in recent years – Seventh Street, American Gal, Undrafted at Royal Ascot, and the venerable Reynaldothewizard in Dubai. Much further back, in the 19th century, he has a common ancestress in the 3-n family with Dark Star, the infamous upsetter of Native Dancer in that 1953 Derby. 
Finnick the Fierce is a member of the 16-c family, sharing a common ancestress a century ago with 1991 Derby victor Strike the Gold.
Storm the Court has an ancestress in common with 2017 Derby scorer Always Dreaming, both descending from the 4-p family. 
Ny Traffic is also from the 4-p tribe, but further in the mists of time, and via a South American tributary. His third dam, Quilma, captured a classic race in her native Chile before becoming a multiple U.S. graded stakes winner, including at Churchill Downs.  
Tiz the Law’s dam, Tizfiz, is a Grade 2 winner on turf. She is out of a mare by 1994 Derby winner Go for Gin, from the family of Favorite Trick, Horse of the Year as a 2-year-old in 1997. 
Attachment Rate and Money Moves (a $975,000 OBS April juvenile) are cousins from the immediate family of Grade 1 winners Hymn Book and Data Link as well as champion filly Caledonia Road. 
Thousand Words, a $1 million Keeneland September yearling, is out of multiple Grade 2-winning sprinter Pomeroys Pistol. His second dam is by Hall of Famer Point Given, the beaten favorite in the 2001 Derby who came back to conquer the Preakness and Belmont. 
Winning Impression will try to take longshot inspiration from his maternal relative Volponi, who upset the 2002 Breeders’ Cup Classic. 
Max Player is a half-brother to Seahenge, a Group 2 winner for Aidan O’Brien. Their dam, Fools in Love, is herself a half-sister to 2015 Louisiana Derby (G2) winner International Star, who was scratched from the Kentucky Derby.
Necker Island, whose dam is a full sister to stakes scorer Greeley’s Rocket and a half to Laurie’s Rocket, hails from the immediate family of Grade 1 winner Adieu. 
Hero of this year’s virtual “Triple Crown Showdown,” Secretariat remains a key influence in pedigrees especially as the broodmare sire of A. P. Indy, Storm Cat, and Gone West. Most of the Derby entrants (13 of 18) can claim descent from the 1973 Triple Crown legend. It’s easier to list those without him in their ancestry – King Guillermo, Thousand Words, Major Fed, Winning Impression, and Attachment Rate.
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