As if the 136th Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) isn’t muddled enough, with the defection of heavy favorite Eskendereya and the two new favorites drawing the two worst post positions, now we have to contend with a storm that could be flood-like in intensity.
Slop is the great equalizer in racing and normally gives longshots a better shot. There are several horses in the field who have looked good training in the slop this week, many of whom will be a fairly big price. But there is one over at Trackside that no one has seen train. And that is Stately Victor, who, based on his pedigree, could actually improve off his dominating victory in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) on Polytrack.
If there is a better bred horse for the slop, we haven’t seen him. His sire, Ghostzapper , earned a spectacular 128 Beyer figure in the slop at Monmouth, winning the Iselin Handicap (gr. III) by 10 3/4 lengths. Ghostzapper’s sire, Awesome Again , was two-for-two in the slop, winning the Jim Dandy (gr. II) by three lengths and a Churchill Downs allowance race by seven lengths. Awesome Again, in addition to Ghostzapper, sired Ginger Punch, who won the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (gr. I) in the slop.
The best, however, is still to come. Stately Victor is inbred top and bottom to perhaps the most influential slop sire in the country, In Reality, through Relaunch and Valid Appeal, two major slop influences. Relaunch sired Waquoit, a 15-length winner of the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) in the slop.
Stately Victor’s broodmare sire, Dynaformer, sired Barbaro, who won the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) in the slop, and Dynaformer is from the His Majesty/Graustark/ Ribot line, one of the most dominant slop families in the last half century. And finally, Stately Victor’s third dam, Cricket Club, is by Dr. Fager, who won the Arlington Classic by 10 lengths in his only appearance in the slop. That effort earned him a “superior” mud mark in the Daily Racing Form.
In his career debut, taken off the turf, Stately Victor finished a fast-closing second to eventual Derby contender Winslow Homer over a track labeled good.
So, make of it as you wish. Stately Victor is a big, powerful colt with a long, sweeping stride, which could compromise him if he gets stopped. But that can apply to most any horse in the Derby. One thing is for sure, and that is, if pedigree means anything, Stately Victor should absolutely relish the slop.
As for the horses who have trained well in the slop at Churchill Downs, the ones who seemed to get over it the best and have the pedigree to handle an off track are Paddy O'Prado, Mission Impazible , Lookin at Lucky , Ice Box , and Super Saver . Another Awesome Again who should have no problem with an off track is Awesome Act, who, for all you RF (Rasmussen Factor) pundits, is inbred on the bottom to the great mare Almahmoud through her two legendary daughters Cosmah and Natalma. So, this is an all-female RF (mare and daughters), which is pretty uncommon.
Mission Impazible is by Unbridled's Song and his dam’s maternal grandsire in Speak John, both of whom should help him a great deal in the slop. Noble’s Promise has a strong slop-oriented tail-female family – all Darby Dan -- that should help him stretch out to 1 1/4 miles.
Sidney's Candy was out on the track at 5:45 Thursday morning and had the best gallop I’ve seen from him. He was asked to pick it up and he responded by rolling around there at quick pace and reaching out with great extension.
Mission Impazible was another who had his best gallop, getting his head down and into the bit and moving with authority.
Slop also should move Dean's Kitten up. His sire, Kitten's Joy , is by El Prado, one of the most versatile stallions in the world, siring grade I winners on dirt and grass, including Medaglia d'Oro (sire of mud-loving Rachel Alexandra), who won the Travers Stakes (gr. I) in the slop.
The two most striking Derby horses on the track this morning were Stately Victor and American Lion , two imposing powerhouses who look spectacular physically. Both are well-dappled on their hind end. The winner of the “show” horse of the Derby is Mission Impazible, with his stately demeanor and chiseled features. He is a classic-looking colt in the truest sense.