Kentucky Derby Pedigree Profile: Rebel's Romance

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

March 28th, 2021

At first glance, it seems as though Rebel’s Romance should be a turf miler, not a dirt router. After all, he’s a son of Irish classic winner Dubawi, a three-time Grade 1 winner over distances ranging from seven furlongs to one mile.

But Rebel’s Romance has forged a different path, cementing his credentials as a Kentucky Derby (G1) contender with a blowout victory in the 1 3/16-mile UAE Derby (G2) over the dirt track at Meydan. And when you dig into the details of Rebel’s Romance’s pedigree, it’s easy to see where his stamina and dirt prowess come from.

To begin, we must take a closer look at Dubawi. There’s more to his genetic makeup than first meets the eye. Dubawi is a son of the once-beaten Dubai Millenium, whose versatility knew few boundaries. A runaway winner of the Queen Elizabeth II (G1) racing one mile over heavy turf, Dubai Millenium was also a phenomenal dirt router, crushing the 1 1/4-mile Dubai World Cup (G1) by six lengths.

Dubawi’s dam, Zomaradah, was similarly long-winded. Winner of the Oaks d’Italia (G1) racing 1 3/8 miles, Zomaradah also won a quartet of Group 2 and Group 3 stakes over 1 1/4 miles. Zomaradah’s stamina can be attributed at least in part to her sire, Deploy, who finished second by less than a length in the 1 1/2-mile Irish Derby (G1).

As a stallion, Dubawi has taken all the elements of his pedigree—dirt and turf talent, abundant stamina, miler speed, etc.—and passed them directly to his progeny. His runners have achieved top-level successes over a remarkable variety of distances and surfaces, and exploring Dubawi’s dozens of Group 1 winners in detail would require a multi-volume series of books.

But for our purposes, it’s sufficient to note Dubawi has proven thoroughly capable of siring elite competitors on dirt. Rebel’s Romance is actually Dubawi’s second UAE Derby winner, following Mubtaahij (2015), who later won the Awesome Again (G1) and placed in multiple editions of the Dubai World Cup. Dubawi has also been represented by Dubai World Cup hero Prince Bishop and the multiple Group 1 winner Benbatl, whose two dirt runs produced a victory in the 1 3/16-mile Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 (G2) and a third-place effort in the inaugural $20 million Saudi Cup.

Having established Dubawi’s credentials as a sire of dirt routers, we can turn our attention to the bottom half of Rebel’s Romance’s pedigree, which—if anything—is even more promising. Rebel’s Romance was produced by the Street Cry mare Minidress, who won her debut sprinting seven furlongs and later finished second by a neck in the 1 1/4-mile Height of Fashion S.

Minidress was at her best on turf, but Street Cry was a tried-and-true dirt star, counting a 4 1/4-length romp in the Dubai World Cup as his signature victory. At stud, Street Cry has sired elite runners across all surfaces, with Winx (a 25-time Group 1 winner on turf), Zenyatta (a 13-time Grade 1 winner on dirt and synthetic), and Street Sense (winner of the Kentucky Derby) providing a perfect sampling.

But although Street Cry has avoided being pigeonholed as a sire of dirt or turf horses, his progeny have generally been united by their affinity for route racing. His foals have won at an impressive average distance of 8.0 furlongs, stamping Street Cry as a reliable source of stamina. This has also been evident in his record as a broodmare sire, with Street Cry’s daughters producing 1 1/4-mile Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Vino Rosso, 1 1/4-mile Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) winner Diversify, and 2 1/4-mile Doncaster Cup (G2) hero Spanish Mission.

The takeaway? It’s hard to knock Rebel’s Romance from a pedigree perspective. Handicappers can debate all day whether the Godolphin homebred has the talent to challenge for Kentucky Derby supremacy in his first North American start, but there’s no reason to believe his breeding will trip him up.