Yesterday, Equine Ink looked at the Derby entries with the highest Derby points, their starting gate positions and their jockeys. Today, I’m going to look at how breeding might help identify contenders that have the stamina/endurance to perform well over the Derby’s mile and a quarter (keeping in mind that with 20 three-year olds breaking from the starting gate, almost anything can happen) .
Along with starting gate stats, past wins and Beyer speeds (which I discussed in this post), another way to predict how well a racehorse might perform in longer races is to look at the Average Winning Distance (AWD) of their sires’ and dams’ progeny. In other words, you look at the distance of each race won by a horse’s offspring. If a sire or dam has a high AWD, it’s more likely that their next foals will be comfortable over a specific distance because their previous foals have already performed well.
This analysis appeared in the Paulick Report. As you can see, the potentially top horses are ranked differently from the Derby Leaderboard. Note that this list also includes horses that are on the “wait list” for the Derby, in case any of the current starters scratch. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the top contenders have Tapit in their pedigrees, either on the sire or dam side. Tapit is the most proven distance sire of his generation with 16 crops of racing age progeny. Tapit has sired 31 Grade 1 winners, including four Belmont Stakes winners and has come close to a Derby win with Essential Quality and Tacitus (who both finished third). Thirty-three yearlings sired by Tapit have sold for $1 million or more at auctions, and his progeny has earned more than $198 million (and counting). Tapit’s AWD is 7.67 furlongs giving him the highest rank among this year’s class of Derby sires.
In this list, Tapit Trice and Disarm share the top spot. Tapit Trice’s sire is Tapit, who is the most proven distance sire of his generation with 16 crops of racing age progeny. Tapit has sired four Belmont Stakes winners already and has come close to a Derby win with Essential Quality and Tacitus (who both finished third). Tapit’s AWD is 7.67 furlongs givig him the highest rank among this year’s class of Derby sires.
Tapit Trice’s dam is Danzatrice. Tapit Trice is his dam’s first winner. Her AWD score of her AWD is based on Tapit Trice winning two races at one mile, along with wins at 1 1/16 miles and 1 1/8 miles.
Tied for the top spot in this year’s AWD rankings is Disarm, sired by Gun Runner and out of Easy Tap (herself a Tapit progeny). While Disarm has only 46 Derby points, his pedigree is a winner. Gun Runner is a relatively young stallion with only three crops of racing age, but his first crop has shown remarkable success and includes 2022 Preakness Stakes winner in Early Voting. Gun Runner is the highest ranking North American sire with three or fewer crops of racing age. It’s Disarm’s dam that provides him the higher rating. Easy Tap has five foals of racing age and Disarm and three others are winners, with an AWD of 8.68 furlongs and 19 combined victories. Of those victories, 15 were at a distance of a mile or longer, more than any other broodmare in this year’s Derby.
Disarm will start from post position #11, which has seen two wins, six seconds and four thirds from 82 starts. He’s ridden by jockey Joel Rosario, who won the Derby 10 years ago on Orb, and is trained by Steve Asmussen, who is still chasing his first Derby win.
If you’re looking for other Tapit connections in the race, Kingsbarns, ranked third on the AWD list, is also out of a Tapit-bred mare. He led wire-to-wire in the Louisiana Derby, with Disarm running second.
Other sires with multiple progeny in the Derby include Curlin (Lord Miles and Skinner), Candy Ride (Hit Show and Confidence Game), Good Magic (Mage and Reincarnate), Into Mischief (Rocket Can, Sun Thunder and Cyclone Mischief), and Violence (Forte, Raise Cain).