Two stallions represented in this year's Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) already bear the mantle of Derby-winning sire. Their racing careers and their paths as stallions could not be more different.
WinStar Farm's Pioneerof the Nile rises quickly to the top of this year's Derby contender sire ranks for both his own performance throughout the Triple Crown series and those of his progeny. The 11-year-old son of Empire Maker won a grade 1 at 2 in the CashCall Futurity and at 3 in the Santa Anita Derby. He fared well in the 2009 Kentucky Derby, where he finished second to longshot Mine That Bird.
Pioneerof the Nile entered stud for a fee of $20,000 at Vinery, where he stood until being relocated to WinStar in 2013. He avenged his Kentucky Derby loss through his son and 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah , who won the Derby by a length for Zayat Stables and trainer Bob Baffert.
Now standing for $110,000, Pioneerof the Nile is represented in this year's Derby by 2016 champion 2-year-old colt and 4-1 morning-line favorite Classic Empire, who returns to Churchill Downs off a win in the Arkansas Derby (G1). Classic Empire, out of Sambuca Classica (Cat Thief ) was bred in Kentucky by Bob Austin and John Witte and is raced by John Oxley. The colt, who is undefeated in two starts at Churchill, is trained by Mark Casse.
Malibu Moon made only two starts before injury derailed his racing career. He got a win, a second, and earned $33,840. The son of A.P. Indy entered stud at Country Life Farm in Maryland for a $3,000 fee. He became a top-10 freshman sire in 2003 with multiple graded stakes winner Perfect Moon his standout juvenile. Malibu Moon was one of only six in his freshman sire class to get a graded stakes winner.
Castleton Lyons Farm later acquired Malibu Moon and relocated him to its farm near Lexington in 2004. The stallion moved to Spendthrift in 2008 and is now the sire of 98 (6%) black-type stakes winners. He stands this year for $75,000.
Malibu Moon is represented in this year's Kentucky Derby by Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner Gormley, the first Derby starter bred by Castleton Lyons. The colt out of Race to Urga (Bernstein), who is 15-1 in the Derby morning line, is raced by Jerry and Ann Moss and trained by John Shirreffs. He will is also be represented in the Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) by Coffee Pot Stable's Farrell.
Hill 'n' Dale Farms' two-time Horse of the Year Curlin is another standout among Derby sires.
A 13-year-old son of Smart Strike, Curlin finished third in the 2007 Kentucky Derby to Street Sense and Hard Spun . He went on to win the Preakness Stakes (G1) and finished second in the Belmont Stakes (G1) behind Rags to Riches. Curlin's son Exaggerator made a good showing through the Triple Crown series last year, when he finished second to Derby winner Nyquist and won the Preakness.
Curlin is represented this year Isabelle de Tomaso's homebred Irish War Cry, who has only lost once in five starts and comes into the Derby off a 3 1/2-length win in the Wood Memorial Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (G2). The New Jersey-bred colt is out of the Polish Numbers mare Irish Sovereign and is trained by Graham Motion, who won the 2011 Kentucky Derby with Animal Kingdom .
Gainesway's three-time leading sire Tapit didn't fare well himself in the Derby, finishing ninth in 2004, but his progeny have done better. His son Frosted , a Sheikh Mohammed homebred, finished fourth in the 2015 Derby before placing second behind American Pharoah in the Belmont. Another son, Mohaymen, who was raced by Shadwell Stable, finished fourth in the 2016 Kentucky Derby and then bypassed the Preakness and Belmont.
This year Tapit is represented by grade 2 winner Tapwrit, who is campaigned by partners Bridlewood Farm, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, and Robert LaPena. Tapwrit won the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby (G2) by 4 1/2 lengths then finished off the board in his last start, the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G2). The colt was bred in Kentucky by My Meadowview and is out of the grade 1 winner Appealing Zophie (Successful Appeal).
Tapit's sons have done much better in the Belmont, where he has two winners to date—Tonalist in 2014 and Creator in 2016. Tonalist, who now stands at Lane's End Farm, did not compete in either the Kentucky Derby or the Preakness, while Creator was in the back of the pack in the Derby and skipped the Preakness. Creator now stands in Japan.
Five of this year's Kentucky Derby contenders are sons of second-crop sires who are getting their first crack at the Triple Crown series. They include WinStar's Bodemeister , who finished second in the 2012 Derby and Preakness for Zayat Stables; Lane's End's Union Rags , a seventh-place finisher in the Derby who skipped the Preakness and won the Belmont; Darby Dan's Dialed In , an eighth-place finisher in the Derby and fourth in the Preakness; and Hansen, the 2011 Eclipse champion 2-year-old male who finished ninth in the Derby and skipped the Preakness and Belmont. Hansen is standing in South Korea.