Form, Pedigree, Speed, & Red Flags of 100-point Winners

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TwinSpires Staff

April 27th, 2015 pedigree handicapper and blogger Doug Salvatore will profile each of the expected Kentucky Derby starters in terms of classic breeding and current form/speed.

The first installment looks at the top seven contenders as ranked by the Kentucky Derby points system. For FREE Ultimate Past Performances with comments of probable Derby entrants ranked by points, CLICK HERE.

Doug’s Spotlight Selections for the full-cards on Friday and Saturday at Churchill Downs (Kentucky Oaks & Derby days, respectively), will be available here.

1.    International Star

Form: He was the star of the Fair Grounds winter meet, sweeping the series with wins in the LeComte, Risen Star, and Louisiana Derby and establishing himself as the overall points leader with 171. This colt has performed a little bit better with each and every one of his nine career starts. He's an admirably consistent sort who has won on all three types of racing surfaces (Dirt, Turf, and Synthetic) and possesses a stretch-running style with a proven willingness to take dirt in his face and slice his way inside of a pack of horses if such an opening presents itself.

A very honest type, his biggest flaw is his lack of early speed, and he overcame it in the Louisiana Derby when he rallied from seven lengths in back of a soft early pace (-2 first call, -4 second call) set by uncontested leader and eventual second place finisher Stanford. The pace is certain to be much faster in the Kentucky Derby, and that will unquestionably be to his benefit.

Pedigree: Sire Fusaichi Pegasus won the 2000 Kentucky Derby with an impressive stretch rally. Considering his gigantic expectations, 'Fu Peg' has been a flat-out bust as a stallion.

International Star's Dam is a French Deputy mare named Parlez. She was a stretch running two-turn dirt router who was an allowance type competitor in the Mid-Atlantic region. This is the tail female family of Halory Hunter, who was a very good stretch running dirt router for Nick Zito.

Speed: International Star ran a career best 99 BRIS speed figure in his Louisiana Derby victory. It was the sixth straight improved figure for him, but he has never run a triple digit speed figure in his career and remarkably 13 other horses expected to enter have reached triple digits before.

Red Flags: Plain and simple it's his speed figures. They're not competitive with the top horses in here. This is somewhat surprising, because his Louisiana Derby win (1:50.67) was faster than the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap (1:51.07) for older males. What's more, the winner of the 'NOLA Cap carried 8 pounds less than International Star did. In fact, Moreno finished 3rd in the 'NOLA Cap and returned to win the Charles Town Classic next out in a race marred by Shared Belief's injury.

2.    Dortmund

Form: A perfect six for six, it doesn't get much better than the type of form Dortmund brings into the Kentucky Derby. He took no prisoners winning the Santa Anita Derby in wire-to-wire fashion after setting a strong pace last time out. Just as International Star has been the star of the Fair Grounds series of preps, Dortmund has been the king of the California preps, having captured four straight Graded Stakes races in Southern California. What's more, this horse shipped to Churchill Downs in his second start and responded with a dazzling victory.

Pedigree: Just as International Star is sired by a Derby winning sire, the same is true about Dortmund. His sire Big Brown captured the 2008 Kentucky Derby in spite of breaking from post position number 20.

Dortmund's dam Our Josephina was a very useful sprinter/miler sort. She's a Graded Stakes placed daughter of Tale of the Cat. Dortmund's third dam is champion Lakeville Miss. She was a Grade 1 winner going 12 furlongs on dirt.

Speed: Going into last years Kentucky Derby, California Chrome was the only horse in the entire race who had run 3 different triple-digit BRIS Speed Figures. This years Derby has other horses who've achieved that, but Dortmund is the only horse in the field to run triple-digit speed figures in each of his last three starts. He received a career top 106 in his Santa Anita Derby victory.

Red Flags: The far turn. This is a massive colt with an extremely long stride and he does his best running on straight-aways. He always looks to be cruising like a monster in the back stretch run, but the far-turn run is often dicey for big horses with unusually long strides. Dortmund did manage to overcome the sharp turns at Los Alamitos with a desperate stretch surge to win a three-horse photo finish over Firing Line and Mr. Z.

In the Bob Lewis Stakes, Dortmund was seemingly put away on the far turn by Firing Line, but staged a dramatic comeback through the stretch run. Since the Bob Lewis, Dortmund has been ridden along through the far turn by Martin Garcia. In a huge field loaded with talented rivals, It's the one area of the race where Dortmund could be vulnerable to attack by horses like American Pharoah, Materiality, and Firing Line.


3.    Carpe Diem

Form: His only career defeat came in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita in a race where Texas Red blew by him like he was standing still on the far turn. Texas Red catapulted past the field to score a last-to-first victory by six and a half lengths. Carpe Diem ran a total one-paced race and did eventually catch up to the winner on the gallop out. It was a quite good performance but not a stellar performance, and so it has been for Carpe Diem every time he's ever started.

A promising three-year-old campaign was launched when this guy won the Tampa Bay Derby by five convincing lengths. He avoided the dead-rail and enjoyed an ideal trip on the best part of the track in the Blue Grass Stakes, but you can't knock the fact that he was a convincing winner once again.

Pedigree: His sire Giant's Causeway dueled with Tiznow through the stretch of the Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs in 2000.

Carpe Diem's dam Rebridled Dreams was Graded Stakes placed for Bret Calhoun and later competed for Billy Turner.

Speed: Ran a career top 102 BRIS Speed figure in the Blue Grass last time out. He's run two triple-digit speed figures before, both of them at Keeneland, where he has trained in preparation for the Derby.


Red Flags: His trainer Todd Pletcher is just 1-for-60 lifetime in all races at Churchill Downs at distances of ten furlongs or further. Other than that, he's a hard horse to knock in general, but his odds won't be appealing from a betting standpoint and this is a horse who's never run a BRIS figure faster than 96 away from Keeneland.

4.    American Pharoah

Form: A champion at age two, he has been absolutely dazzling in Arkansas at age three. He lost a shoe in the Rebel Stakes, but still managed to bury the field anyway. His finest moment to date occurred in the Arkansas Derby when Victor Espinoza wisely ignored a no-chance speedball and the Pharoah rated kindly in second position before inhaling the front-runner at will and drawing off with condescending ease to win by eight lengths in a performance that was visually stylish and evoked a great deal of excitement. This is a very brilliant horse, but a handy type who has proven he will relax, at least he will if he's racing in the clear.

Pedigree: He's by a very good route sire in Pioneerof The Nile, who finished second in the 2009 Kentucky Derby. American Pharoah's female family is extremely speed and sprinter oriented. This is a true stamina on top, speed on the bottom pedigree.

Speed: His career best BRIS Speed figure was a 103 in the Del Mar Futurity. That's a scorching fast figure for a 2-year-old going seven furlongs in early September. The Pharoah ran a 102 in his Arkansas Derby romp last time out.

Red Flags: He's never had to work to get an ideal front-end trip before and thanks to his natural talent, the only horse he's ever passed before was a cheap speed type. American Pharoah has never had to deal with dirt in his face or being boxed in before, and some talented horses with his running style don't enjoy that (California Chrome.)  The competition he has obliterated in Arkansas is quite suspect. Madefromlucky, who finished second in the Rebel, was withdrawn from the Kentucky Derby after Stanford absolutely toyed with him in a head-to-head morning workout. Far Right is an honest sort, but nothing more.

5.    Frosted

Form: A punching bag for Upstart at Gulfstream Park, the suddenly red-hot Kiaran McLaughlin had a throat operation performed on him and he responded in a big way, by winning the Wood Memorial with an impressive performance from off of the early pace. The optimist will disregard those match-ups with Upstart and point to a successful cure for his ailment as the reason why he's a much improved horse now.

Pedigree: A son of elite dirt stallion Tapit.  Frosted's Dam Fast Cookie was a Grade 2 Stakes winner at 8.5 furlongs on dirt for Bill Mott.

Speed: His 107 BRIS Speed Figure in the Wood Memorial is the fastest figure any horse in this Kentucky Derby field has ever run. His best speed figure at age 2 was a 98, which also came going nine furlongs, on the main track at Aqueduct.

Red Flags: It's hard to ignore his meetings with Upstart at Gulfstream Park. They both had similar types of trips, and Upstart left the impression of being far superior of the two. However, Kiaran sure has heated up of late and it's hard to know for sure how much the operation helped him.

6.    Mubtaahij

Form: Blossomed into a star while dominating the scene for his age group in Dubai. In what was his fifth start on the Meydan dirt this winter, he capture the UAE Derby by eight emphatic lengths. The performance was visually impressive, but it's hard to know the merits of the competition that was behind him. The UAE Derby was his second straight start at 9.5 furlongs, so the stamina foundation is quite good. Trainer Mike DeKock is a world class horsemen and not one to ship a horse here without a chance.

Pedigree: This is a son of Dubawi out of a Pennekamp mare. Dubawi is a son of the great Dubai Millennium, who romped in the Dubai World Cup. The interesting thing about Mubtaahij is that while his pedigree appears entirely foreign, his tail-female family (the most important line in any pedigree) is virtually all North American horses.

Starting with Mubtaahij's 3rd Dam Gay Apparel, who was foaled in Canada, every single mare in Mubtaahij's tail female line was bred in North American going all the way back to Maria Slamerkin in 1769.

Speed: The real question mark. No BRIS Speed figures for Dubai races are available to report. Using a projection method with Beyer style speed figures, I have Mubtaahij's UAE Derby figure only in the mid-to-high 90's range. Unfortunately, Meydan's dirt surface is fairly new and I didn't follow Dubai racing at all this year. So, it's hard to have unwavering confidence in that mid-to-high 90's projected figure.

Red Flags: He's making a cross-country ship to take on one of the tougher fields to be assembled in the Derby in recent years. This is a very tall task for a foreign raider.

7.    Materiality:

Form: Undefeated in three career starts including a Florida Derby victory over Upstart on a racing surface that might have been slower than quicksand. Rarely does a final time of 1:52.30 seconds for nine furlongs produce impressive speed figures, but Materiality's Florida Derby win sure did the trick, as the performance received stellar numbers from every figure maker once the variants accounting for the dull racing surface were factored in. Two starts back, Materiality made short work of stablemate Stanford in an ungraded stakes race at Gulfstream.

Pedigree: His sire is 2005 Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner Afleet Alex. Materiality is out of Wildwood Flower, who was a lightly raced horse, but also a Graded Stakes placed runner for both Jerry Hollendorfer and Kiaran McLaughlin.

Speed: Materiality ran a 105 BRIS Speed Figure in the Florida Derby. That same performance also owns the fields best last-out Beyer Speed Figure.

Red Flags: The so called "Apollo curse" -- Materiality did not compete at age two, and the last time a horse who hadn't started at age two went on to win the Kentucky Derby was Apollo in 1882. In those days, they signified the start of the race by beating on a kettle drum.  What's more, besides the Apollo curse, Materiality is trainer by Todd Pletcher and he's struggled at Churchill Downs with many of his horses who starred at Gulfstream.