Can American Pharoah's son Ram outperform his 30-1 odds in the Preakness? (Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club)
Several Preakness S. (G1) contenders with strong pedigree ties to the middle jewel are longshots. Might that portend an upset brewing at Pimlico on Saturday?
Triple Crown champion American Pharoah (2015) is trying to join the exclusive club of Preakness winners who have sired one, but it would be a massive shock if his son Ram can pull it off. The 30-1 shot on the morning line has more pedigree than past performance power.
Ram is a half-brother to Grade/Group 2-winning millionaire Coal Front. Their dam, Miner’s Secret, is closely inbred to 1977 Triple Crown legend Seattle Slew as well as to supersire Mr. Prospector. Miner’s Secret is by A.P. Indy’s Horse of the Year son Mineshaft and from the further family of 1990 Belmont S. (G1) romper Go and Go.
Tracing the female line much further back, Ram descends from the family labeled 10-a that’s also responsible for 1999 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness hero Charismatic. Ram has the same trainer as Charismatic – six-time Preakness-winning Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas.
Curlin (2007) is the most recent Preakness star to have a son succeed him, courtesy of Exaggerator in 2016. The Hall of Famer has also had a couple of Preakness placers, runner-up Ride on Curlin (2014) and third Tenfold (2018). Now Curlin factors as the broodmare sire of 20-1 outsider France Go de Ina.
Bred in Kentucky but based in Japan, France Go de Ina
is by champion Will Take Charge
, who was seventh in the 2013 Preakness. France Go de Ina’s dam, Dreamy Blues, is herself out of a mare by 1992 Preakness victor Pine Bluff
, the 2007 Derby hero who was just denied by Curlin at Pimlico, has a top contender on Saturday in Concert Tour
. The sophomore is out of Purse Strings, a Tapit mare closely related to 2008
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) champion Stardom Bound.
, a subpar eighth in the 2002 Preakness, gained compensation when his Hall of Fame daughter Rachel Alexandra scored an historic victory over males here in 2009. If his son Risk Taking
can spring a 15-1 surprise on Saturday, Medaglia d’Oro would rank among the elite stallions to sire two Preakness winners.
Risk Taking’s broodmare sire is Distorted Humor, best known for getting Funny Cide, the 2003 Derby and Preakness champion. Risk Taking himself is inbred to Hall of Famer Damascus, the 1967 Preakness and Belmont winner. His female line is superb as well, with his maternal relatives including multiple Grade 1 scorer and influential sire Seeking the Gold.
The 15-1 Unbridled Honor traces to the same 8-h family responsible for Damascus and 1941 Triple Crown legend Whirlaway, who is a half-brother to the colt’s eighth dam. Unbridled Honor is by Honor Code, another champion son of A.P. Indy, and out of an Unbridled’s Song half-sister to Grade 1 winners Roman Ruler and El Corredor.
Preakness favorite Medina Spirit
likewise has matrilineal connections to the middle jewel. The first-past-the-post in the Kentucky Derby hails from the 2-n family, giving him a tail-female ancestress in common with Hall of Famer
(2001), another trained by Bob Baffert, and Whimsical (1906),
one of the race’s female winners
Rombauer belongs to the 9-f family that’s also produced a pair of Preakness winners in 1924 heroine Nellie Morse and 2010 champion Lookin at Lucky . Much nearer relations are his dam’s half-siblings – turf stars California Flag and Cambiocorsa, granddam of European celebrity Roaring Lion.
Last year’s Preakness heroine, Swiss Skydiver, is by the More Than Ready stallion Daredevil. More Than Ready himself has a son, Crowded Trade , in Saturday’s edition. Crowded Trade’s second dam is by Thunder Gulch, the 1995 Derby and Belmont star who was a close third in the Preakness.
Keepmeinmind is by Uncle Mo’s sonLaoban, the sixth-placer in the 2016 Preakness. Keepmeinmind’s broodmare sire, Victory Gallop, was runner-up in both the 1998 Derby and Preakness before nipping archrival Real Quiet in an epic Belmont. A member of the 2-f family, Keepmeinmind shares the female line of 2011 Preakness victor Shackleford.
descends from the A1 (“American No. 1”) family whose sole Preakness winner was Half Time in 1899. His sire line also has an ancient tie to the race, thanks to tail-male ancestor Man o’ War
, the 1920 Preakness and Belmont conqueror. But not since Man o’ War’s greatest son, War Admiral (1937), swept the Triple Crown has a representative of this male line won the middle jewel. By Hall of Famer Tiznow, Midnight Bourbon can summon more Preakness credentials from the interior of his pedigree, which boasts inbreeding to Seattle Slew.
While Midnight Bourbon, Keepmeinmind, Crowded Trade, and Unbridled Honor are the lone scions of their respective sire lines in the 146th Preakness, the most numerous is Mr. Prospector with four in the 10-horse field.
Mr. P, himself a paternal grandson of 1953 Preakness and Belmont winner Native Dancer, has male-line descendants Concert Tour, Rombauer (by the Candy Ride stallion Twirling Candy), and via the Unbridled tribe, Ram and France Go de Ina.The great patriarch Northern Dancer, hero of the 1964 Derby and Preakness, claims the remaining two contenders for his sire line, Medina Spirit (by Giant’s Causeway’s son Protonico) and Risk Taking.
Nine of the 10 can point to Secretariat somewhere in the heart of their pedigrees, with the lone exception being Risk Taking. Medina Spirit’s ancestry includes arguably the three most significant progenitors out of Secretariat mares – Storm Cat, A.P. Indy, and Gone West. Crowded Trade’s dam, Maude S, herself has three crosses of Secretariat. Two come from her sire Jump Start, who’s by A.P. Indy out of a Storm Cat mare. Bred on that same cross is Honor Code, Unbridled Honor’s sire.