The Pamplemousse won the San Rafael Jan. 17 at Santa Anita. <br><a target="blank" href="">Order This Photo</a>

The Pamplemousse won the San Rafael Jan. 17 at Santa Anita.
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Ky. Derby Trail: Girl Talk

Before we get to this past week’s races, there is a pedigree pattern developing this year that you don’t normally see to this degree. We can talk all we want about the A.P. Indys and Unbridled’s Songs and other top-class stallions, but as we’ve often seen in recent years it is the female family that is most influential in getting our speed-induced horses to stay a mile and a quarter on the first Saturday in May.


We’ve seen Derby hopefuls out of major stakes-winning producers, major stakes winners, and half- or full-sisters to outstanding runners. But this year, we have at least four horses whose second or third dams have produced classic winners.


California Derby winner Chocolate Candy’s second dam, In Memory, is a half-sister to Triple Crown winner Affirmed. In Memory is by none other than Affirmed’s arch rival Alydar, out of Won’t Tell You. It is also worth noting that Chocolate Candy’s dam, Crownette, is by Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew.


Undefeated Danger to Society’s dam, Elrose, is a half-sister to Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Silver Charm. Elrose is by Deputy Minister, out of Bonnie’s Poker.


Lane’s End Breeders’ Futurity (gr. I) runner-up Terrain’s second dam, Orseno, is a half-sister to Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled. Orseno is by In Reality, out of Gana Facil. Terrain also was a fast-closing fourth in the Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I).


LeComte Stakes (gr. III) runner-up Patena’s second dam, Daijin, is a full-sister to Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Touch Gold. Daijin, a stakes winner herself, as is Patena’s dam Handpainted, is by Deputy Minister, out of the Buckpasser mare Passing Mood.


So, if you’re looking for horses who are related in their first and second generations to winners of Triple Crown races, keep all four of these colts in mind. They all have tremendous potential, the right running style, and are by sires (Candy Ride, Harlan’s Holiday, Sky Mesa , and Seeking the Gold (respectively), who certainly will not hold them back going 10 furlongs.


We also have to add LeComte third-place finisher Au Moon, whose third dam, Empress Aly, is a full-sister to Kentucky Derby winner Strike the Gold. Empress Aly is by Alydar, out of Majestic Gold.


Speaking of class in the dam, if you follow the Rasmussen Factor (RF), which denotes horses inbred to top-class broodmares (not thru the same stallion), take note that we have an unusually large number of 3-year-olds this year that are inbred to a virtual Who’s Who of female stars. They include Northern Dancer’s dam Natalma (impressive maiden winner Alma d’Oro), the multiple stakes producer Tamerett (maiden winner Brother Keith), multiple grade I stakes producer Alanesian (Chocolate Candy), the great Phipps family producer Broadway (Coronet of a Baron), Seattle Slew’s and Seattle Dancer’s dam My Charmer (Smarty Jones third-place finisher Gresham), Hail to Reason’s and Be Suspicious’ dam Nothirdchance (maiden winner Soul Warrior), Smarten’s and Quadratic’s dam Smartaire (Square Eddie ), and Great Above’s and Tax Holiday’s dam Ta Wee (allowance winner Uno Mas).


To learn more about the female family lines that produced such Derby winners as Funny Cide and Monarchos, check out Matriarchs II: More Great Mares of Modern Times.


In this week’s races of interest, you can make what you want of the San Rafael (gr. III) and California Derby, won by The Pamplemousse and Chocolate Candy, respectively. But until the California horses run on dirt they have to be considered unknowns, and there are enough unknown factors already going into the Derby to have to guess whether a horse will handle dirt.


The Pamplemousse is a big, long-striding horse who is improving and learning with every race. His pedigree doesn’t shout mile and a quarter, so we’ll just have to see how he keeps progressing. If he’s good enough, his pedigree, although it won’t help him, shouldn’t hurt him. Chocolate Candy was mentioned twice already because of his powerful female family. He also covers a lot of ground and definitely looks like he wants more distance. This is one horse I’d definitely love to see run on dirt before the Kentucky Derby.


Square Eddie ran OK in his first start back, but he still hasn't duplicated that brilliant turn of foot he showed in the Breeders' Futurity. The winner was tough out on the lead in a short field, and Square Eddie definitely should improve next time out in a bigger field. Much was expected from Brother Keith in the San Rafel, but he lost it on the first turn and dropped right out of the race. With only two career starts he needs a big rebound race to give him some foundation and more important to show he has the right kind of disposition for the Derby grind.


Horses who made a good impression were Gulfstream maiden winner Alma d’Oro, who was making his first start for Rick Dutrow. Stretching out to a mile, the son of Medaglia d’Oro drew off under a hand ride to win by five lengths over Dubinsky, who finished 16 1/4 lengths ahead of the third horse. The winner looks like one to watch.


It would have been great to see what Silver City would have done in Monday’s one-mile Smarty Jones Stakes, but trainer Bret Calhoun elected to run him in the 5 1/2-furlong Dixieland Stakes last Friday. This was the son of Unbridled’s Song’s fourth sprint in as many starts, and he is out of a Mt. Livermore mare, so we really don’t know how far he wants to go. But no one was more impressive this weekend. He rated kindly just off the pace and then drew off with ease to win under no urging whatsoever. The time of 1:04 was excellent, and he should be a formidable foe in the one-mile Southwest Stakes (gr. III).


Musket Man, winner of the seven-furlong Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, remained undefeated, winning at three different tracks. Runner-up General Quarters, coming off a huge second in the Inaugural Stakes, ran a winning race from off the pace, but couldn’t withstand the winner, while finishing eight lengths ahead of the third horse. By Yonaguska, Musket Man looks more like a sprinter/miler type, but we’ll see. General Quarters is by Sky Mesa, out of an Unbridled’s Song mare. The final time was an excellent 1:23 flat.


Steve Asmussen had a big weekend at Fair Grounds, sending out Dumar to win a mile and forty-yard allowance race over another Asmussen colt Sunday Sunrise, and Captain Cherokee to win a one-mile maiden race by three lengths. Although Captain Cherokee is a half-brother to champion sprinter Midnight Lute, he does have excellent stamina through third dam Berkut, a full-sister by Sea-Bird to the top-class French colt Gyr, winner of the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud who finished second to the great Nijinsky in the English Derby. Remember, although Midnight Lute was a spectacular sprinter, his career plans were altered because of a breathing problem, not because of pedigree.


Dumar could be any kind. The son of Maria’s Mon has run four excellent races in his career, has a good closing punch, and is inundated with stamina, being inbred 3 x 3 to Majestic Light in his tail male and tail female families. Majestic Light was sired Majestic Prince, and his dam Irradiate is by Ribot. There is a lot to like about this colt.


Perhaps the most surprising and one of the most impressive performances of the weekend was the one turned in by Poltergeist. Coming off a fourth, beaten 13 lengths, in the six-furlong Groovy Stakes for Texas-breds at Retama, the son of Tapit destroyed a solid field going a mile at Oaklawn. Not only did he draw off with tremendous power to win by six lengths, he galloped out very strongly and continued to open up on his opponents as if he were just getting started. The runner-up Special Heart finished five lengths ahead of the third horse. Trained by Donnie von Hemel, Poltergeist, a long-striding colt who seemed to be bouncing over the ground, had broken his maiden going 5 1/2 furlongs at Remington Park and obviously was crying out for a distance. Out of a Relaunch mare, he should keep stretching out with no problem. If he's as good as he looked in this race, he's for real. His time of 1:38 was a full second faster than the Smarty Jones on Monday.


Flat Out, winner of the Smarty Jones, is an intriguing horse. Racing wide on both turns, the son of Flatter just loped on by his opponents in the stretch, despite not changing leads and drifting in just a bit. He finally switched to his right lead inside the sixteenth pole and continued to draw clear, winning by 3 1/2 lengths with a final eighth in :12 3/5 over a dead racetrack. What makes him intriguing is that he comes a very old female family. Because his dam foaled him at age 23 and her dam foaled her at age 19 it means that Flat Out has Double Jay, a foal of 1944 in his third generation and Sailor, a foal of 1952, in his fourth generation. You never see either of those two stallions that close up anymore, especially Double Jay, one of the great broodmares of all time. This horse is still a bit immature, but he certainly has ability.


The even-money favorite Professor Z got a terrible ride, being rushed to the lead between horses and then getting squeezed again between horses nearing the head of the stretch. This was no way to teach a young colt how to be Derby horse. His last-place finish, while learning only the wrong things, will make it extremely difficult for him to bounce back and be a Derby contender.


The best losing effort of the weekend goes to first time starter Wise Kid, who had a disastrous trip going 1 1/16 miles. After coming from last and rallying fastest of all, he was trapped along the inside, swung out and then had the hole close up on him. He was yanked farther to the outside and closed gamely, but was beaten a nose by Buzzin and Dreamin, making his fifth start, who was the one who closed up the hole on him. Wise Kid, who galloped out well clear of the winner, is by Lemon Drop Kid, out of a Seeking the Gold mare, and the Tim Ritchey-trained colt should be heard from.


At Santa Anita, the Bob Baffert-trained Mayor Marv finally found the winner’s circle after three straight seconds, wiring his field going 1 1/16 miles to win by 1 3/4 lengths. Runner-up Millennium Lakes, trained by Mark Casse, closed fast from ninth at the head of the stretch to finish a clear second and is one to watch next time out.


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