Although Like the King has yet to win on dirt, his pedigree is filled with American classic winners.
Like the King is by 2013 Belmont (G1) hero Palace Malice. A star from the first crop of Hall of Famer Curlin, Palace Malice had suffered narrow losses earlier on the trail in the Risen Star (G2) and Blue Grass (G1) (along with a luckless trip in traffic in the Louisiana Derby [G2]). Thus he experimented with blinkers in the Kentucky Derby (G1), only to have the equipment change backfire as he sped too fast early and faded to 12th in the slop.
Palace Malice rebounded without blinkers in the Belmont, turning the tables on Derby winner Orb and also beating Preakness (G1) scorer Oxbow. Both of those rivals also have sired contenders in this year’s Run for the Roses, Oxbow represented by Hot Rod Charlie and Orb by O Besos.
During his 2014 campaign, Palace Malice compiled a four-race winning streak, all in graded stakes, culminating in the Metropolitan H. (G1). That completed an historically rare Belmont-Met double. It takes an unusual talent to win both the 1 1/2-mile third jewel of the Triple Crown and the prestigious “Met Mile.”
Palace Malice got off to a fine start at stud by siring 2019 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) winner Structor in his first crop. Turf influence comes from Palace Malice’s dam, Palace Rumor, herself a stakes scorer on the grass and a daughter of multiple Grade/Group 1 victor Royal Anthem (by turf champ Theatrical).
Another of Palace Malice’s initial progeny, Mr. Monomoy (a half-brother to two-time champion Monomoy Girl), was on the Derby trail after capturing a division of the 2020 Risen Star. Unfortunately, Mr. Monomoy did not race again due to injury.
Like the King is from Palace Malice’s second crop, which also features Ruthless romper Miss Brazil. The exciting filly was just worn down late in the March 6 Busher by Kentucky Oaks (G1)-bound Search Results.
Palace Malice’s sire, Curlin, was a redoubtable force in the 2007 Triple Crown. His victory in the Preakness was bookended by placings in the Kentucky Derby and Belmont, where he was just denied by the great filly Rags to Riches. Curlin went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) and back-to-back Horse of the Year titles, retiring with then-North American record earnings in excess of $10.5 million.
Curlin is now a classic progenitor. By the influential Mr. Prospector stallion Smart Strike, Curlin has sired a fellow Preakness winner in Exaggerator (2016), also second in the Kentucky Derby. Curlin’s other classic-placed runners include champion two-year-old male Good Magic, who was runner-up to Triple Crown sweeper Justify in the 2018 Derby. Curlin’s current contender Known Agenda (and possibly “bubble horse” King Fury) will give him another chance at an elusive Derby trophy.
Like the King’s dam, Like a Queen, spent nearly her entire career on turf. A neck second in the 2014 Our Dear Peggy at Gulfstream Park as a juvenile, the Florida-bred ultimately descended into claiming company. She was retired with a 2-for-29 mark.
Like a Queen is by Corinthian, winner of the Met Mile in 2007 and dominant in the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile that fall – the day before Curlin splashed home in the Classic. Corinthian had shone briefly on the 2006 Derby trail. Crossing the wire first in the Fountain of Youth (G2), he was demoted to third for interference, and a later injury ruled him out of the spring classics.
Corinthian is a beautifully bred grandson of two Belmont-winning Hall of Famers. His sire, Pulpit, is by 1992 Belmont and Breeders’ Cup Classic victor A.P. Indy (himself a son of 1977 Triple Crown legend Seattle Slew). Corinthian’s dam, Multiply, is a daughter of Easy Goer who finally got the better of archrival Sunday Silence in the 1989 Belmont.
At stud, Corinthian didn’t gain enough traction to stave off export, and he was sold to Turkey in 2017. He left one graded stakes winner stateside, Prince Lucky, who landed the 2019 Gulfstream Park Mile (G2). Until Like the King came along, Corinthian’s headliner as a broodmare sire was the brilliant Minnesota-bred Mr. Jagermeister.
Like a Queen is out of Arcanum, whose inability to hit the board in 13 career starts belies her pedigree. Arcanum is by Unbridled, the 1990 Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic champion, and out of a mare by 1987 Belmont romper Bet Twice, runner-up to Alysheba in the Derby and Preakness.
While Unbridled is often discussed for his role as a male-line influence, with such descendants as 2015 Triple Crown champion American Pharoah, he’s a significant broodmare sire as well. Unbridled’s daughters are responsible for Tapit, the aforementioned Orb, 2011 Preakness scorer Shackleford, and dual champion filly Covfefe.
Arcanum’s dam, Twin Bet, was one of Bet Twice’s better runners as a stakes winner in both the U.S. and France. Prevailing over males in the Grand Prix d’Aquitaine, she added the Waya H. at old Hollywood Park in 1994.
Twin Bet was produced by the stakes-placed Fancify, a daughter of Diplomat Way (by Hall of Famer Nashua) and Fanciful Miss, who won a division of the 1957 Honeymoon H. at Hollywood. Fanciful Miss was also second to Hall of Famer Searching in a pair of stakes in New York, and to Fair Grounds legend Tenacious in the Louisiana H.
Fanciful Miss’s older half-sister, Thelma Berger, was even more accomplished. When taking the 1951 Beldame H., Thelma Berger defeated Hall of Famer Bed O Roses and champion Kiss Me Kate. She also beat males in that year’s Lecomte H. (before it was restricted to three-year-olds) and Louisiana ‘Cap.
Fanciful Miss and Thelma Berger’s dam, Hianne, is in turn a full sister to the prolific stakes winners Lucky Draw and Frere Jacques. Lucky Draw, a 13-time stakes hero and multiple track record-setter, captured such majors as the 1944 Wood Memorial and 1946 Saratoga H. Frere Jacques ran an incredible 181 times over 10 seasons.
Hianne, Lucky Draw, and Frere Jacques are by Jack High, the 1928 Hopeful and 1930 Met Mile scorer, and out of Tatanne. A stakes victress herself by 1923 champion two-year-old St. James, Tatanne produced two other multiple stakes winners in Platan (a course record-setter in the 1955 Arlington H.) and Reveille (who made 146 starts).
Tatanne’s dam, *Titanite, is the offspring of French classic winners. She’s by champion and outstanding sire Sardanapale, who landed such prizes as the 1914 French Derby and Grand Prix de Paris, and out of Saint Astra, queen of the 1907 French Oaks.
Saint Astra is also the ancestress, in the direct maternal line, of Known Agenda. This is the family labeled 9-f that expands to embrace Rock Your World as well as Derby winners Bold Forbes (1976) and Country House (2019).