When a non-winners of two allowance race at Santa Anita and the Herat Stakes at Laurel are the two biggest races of the week, then it's time to step off the Derby trail, get out a blanket and some cheese and crackers, and take time to ponder where we've been and where we're heading.
But in a year like this, not only do we not know where we're heading, we're really not quite sure where we've been. The only 2-year-olds within 10 pounds of the leader on the Experimental Free Handicap that we can sink our teeth into are Dollar Bill and Millennium Wind. For the sixth straight year, the Experimental topweight will be a non-entity in the Triple Crown.
The picture should be begin to clear up on the big weekend of March 10-11, with the runnings of the Florida Derby, Louisiana Derby, and El Camino Real Derby, followed the next week by San Felipe, Gotham Stakes, and Tampa Bay Derby. We may learn a little this coming weekend in the San Rafael and Southwest stakes.
But regardless what a horse's record looks like come Derby Day, the bottom line is whether or not he wants to go a mile and a quarter on that particular day -- not whether he's going to win the Travers in August or the Super Derby in September. There are plenty of horses who have the pedigree to get a mile and a quarter, but not nearly as many who have so much class and stamina that they can look down that long final quarter mile at Churchill Downs and just keep on going.
Following is a list of our Top 10 horses in alphabetical order who have a pedigree top and bottom that will enable them to spit in the eye of that final quarter mile. Remember, horses with a good representation of European blood tend to have a higher dosage index (DI) than they really deserve. A P Valentine
– By A.P. Indy out of an Alydar mare; tail-female great-grandsire Stage Door Johnny, one of the true great stamina influences left in this country, is the broodmare sire of Derby winner Go for Gin; very strong dosage profile (DP) of 10-4-20-2-2 and a DI of 1.71.Hero's Tribute
-- By Derby winner Sea Hero, who is out of a Graustark mare. Graustark is another of the few genuine class and stamina influences in the world; out of a Damascus mare, and Damascus is a stronger distance influence on the bottom than he is on top; tail-female granddam by Nijinsky II out of the top-class Quill; mouth-watering DP of 4-7-15-5-1 and DI of 1.37. Pedigree is as good as it gets.Learing at Kathy
-- Sire Lear Fan was a miler, but by Roberto and he traces to War Admiral in his fourth generation; dam by Graustark, and the tail-female line is all Calumet Farm; inbred 5 (sire)x5(dam) to great Calumet foundation sire Bull Lea. Wonderfully balanced DP of 5-4-25-4-2 (note the number of points in classic category) and a DI of 1.16.Millennium Wind
-- Half-brother to 1999 Derby winner Charismatic is really all you have to know, and his sire Cryptoclearance won't hold him back at all. Cryptoclearance's sire Fappiano has sired a Derby winner and two sons who sired Derby winners. The key to this pedigree is broodmare sire Drone, yet another of the real class and stamina influences. Drone, also the broodmare sire of Derby winner Grindstone, was a monster of a horse, physically, and passes on a lot of toughness; the big catch here is that his DI is a lofty 5.33, which goes against the dosage principal. But take note that he gets high "Brilliant" points from Hoist the Flag, who is also a major stamina influence through horses like Alleged. Hoist the Flag's sire Tom Rolfe and grandsire Ribot (sire of Graustark) are extremely strong stamina influences. And on bottom, he gets high "Brilliant" points from What a Pleasure, who sired Kentucky Derby winner Foolish Pleasure, and Bold Ruler, who sired Triple Crown winner Secretariat. So, don't let the dosage scare you.Monarchos
-- Sire Maria's Mon is still an unknown quantity, but he has more than enough stamina, and his broodmare sire Caro is the broodmare sire of Derby winner Winning Colors; female family, however, is absolutely awesome, especially the all-important tail-female, which is all classic Darby Dan breeding, and no farm is more of a stamina influence than Darby Dan through Graustark, His Majesty, Ribot, and Roberto; granddam is by Roberto, and her dam is by Graustark; and the tail-female line traces to one of Darby Dan's great broodmares Golden Trail. DP of 2-2-13-1-0 with a DI of 1.40.Ommadon
-- Sire line is chock full of Derby influences, starting with sire, Derby winner Grindstone, to his sire, Derby winner Unbridled, to his sire Fappiano (sire or grandsire of three Derby winners), to his sire Mr. Prospector (sire of Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus). Grindstone's broodmare sire is Drone (broodmare sire of two Derby winners) and his dam Buzz My Bell is a granddaughter of Derby winner Chateaugay (owned and bred by Darby Dan); Ommadon's broodmare sire is the distance-loving Turkoman, by Alydar, and great-grandsire on tail-female line is Damascus; DP of 3-5-10-0-2 and a DI of 1.86.Palmeiro
-- You simply cannot get a more balanced dosage profile: 3-2-8-2-3. This is pure perfection. Sire Pleasant Tap is the next step in that classic His Majesty line through Derby winner Pleasant Colony. Derby winner Go for Gin is another from the His Majesty line. Pleasant Tap also is out of a Stage Door Johnny mare, and we mentioned Stage Door Johnny earlier as a one of the great stamina influences. Broodmare sire Fortunate Prospect is a son of Northern Dancer out of a mare by Derby winner Lucky Debonair; great-grandsire on tail-female line is Vigors, a big, distance-loving son of Grey Dawn II who won the Santa Anita Handicap; a super 1.00 DI to go along with his DP.Scorpion
-- By Seattle Slew out of a Chief's Crown mare, and Chief's Crown has been an excellent stamina influence on the grass, siring English Derby winner Erhaab and Breeders' Cup Turf winner Chief Bearhart; great-grandsire on tail-female line is Triple Crown winner Affirmed, giving this colt three Triple Crown winners in his pedigree; in-bred 4(s)x4(d) to Hail to Reason; DP of 10-4-18-2-0 and a DI of 2.09.Street Cry
-- We're mentioning him even with his 4.33 DI and the fact that his sire Machiavellian's influence has been basically in Europe. Machiavellian is the only reason this colt's DI is so high, but he's by Mr. Prospector out of a Halo mare, and we sure don't see that as being a hindrance. Americans surely remember his son Almutawakel, winner of the Dubai World Cup, who ran so well in this country in the major fall Belmont stakes. Machiavellian has sired a good cross of sprinters, milers, and distance horses. But it is Street Cry's female family that stands out, as his dam Helen Street won the 1 1/2-mile Irish Oaks and his broodmare sire Troy won the 1 1/2-mile English Derby, Irish Derby, and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. Helen Street's broodmare sire Riverman, also has been a strong influence at 1 1/2 miles.You Know Who
-- We'll start by saying, whenever you see a horse inbred (sire x dam) to a big-name broodmare, move that horse up way up on your list. That's one of the great breeding/handicapping angles of all time. And this colt is inbred 3(s)x4(d) to the great Cosmah through Halo on the very top of the male line and Royal Match on the very bottom of the female line. Royal Match is by Turn-to, and Halo is by Turn-to's son Hail to Reason. In addition to Halo, Cosmah also produced the champion filly Tosmah. You Know Who's broodmare sire Criminal Type is son of Alydar, was Horse of the Year in 1990, and has the distinction of winning four consecutive grade I stakes at four different distances as four different racetracks. Great-grandsire on tail-female line is one of the great classic influences Buckpasser; DP of 10-3-19-2-0, with a 1.96 DI.Continued. . . .