Kentucky Derby Pedigree Profile: Charlatan

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

March 17th, 2020

By definition, a charlatan is someone who falsely claims to possess certain abilities or knowledge. So in some respects, the exciting 3-year-old Charlatan might be living up to his name.

As a son of champion sprinter Speightstown, Charlatan has given many racing fans the impression he’ll prove best as a sprinter or miler. Certainly his first two victories—achieved in dominant front-running fashion—support the belief that Charlatan is all about speed. But dig deeper, and the truth comes out: Charlatan is actually bred to thrive over the 1 1/4-mile distance of the Kentucky Derby.

Charlatan's Pedigree

Folks understandably equate Speightstown with speed since he was a tried-and-true sprinter. As a 6-year-old in 2004, Speightstown put together a 5-for-6 campaign culminating with a triumph in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1), sufficient to earn the Eclipse Award as champion male sprinter.

But while Speightstown has sired plenty of high-class sprinters at stud, including Canadian champion Essence Hit Man and Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) winner Reynaldothewizard, a surprising number of Speightstown’s best foals have thrived running 1 1/4 miles. Golden Ticket won the Travers (G1), Haynesfield claimed the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1), Force the Pass romped in the Belmont Derby (G1), Competitionofideas won the American Oaks (G1), Seek Again prevailed in the Hollywood Derby (G1), and Delegation nabbed the Dominion Day (G3).

In short, Speightstown has proven thoroughly capable of siring high-class runners over 1 1/4 miles, and the bottom half of Charlatan’s pedigree offers similar promise. Dam Authenticity prevailed in the 1 1/8-mile Shuvee H. (G3) and placed in four Grade 1 races running long, including the 1 1/8-mile Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) and 1 1/8-mile Personal Ensign (G1). She’s also proven successful as a broodmare, with her first foal—Hanalei Moon—winning the 1-mile and 70-yard One Dreamer S. on turf.

Authenticity, in turn, is a daughter of the NYRA Mile H. (G1) winner Quiet American. While Quiet American was at his best going a mile, he did place second in the 1 1/4-mile Charles H. Strub (G1), and at stud his most successful runner by far was champion 3-year-old Real Quiet, a Kentucky Derby/Preakness champion who came within a nose of sweeping the Triple Crown.

If anything, Quiet American has contributed even more stamina through his daughters. As a broodmare sire, Quiet American is responsible for 1 1/4-mile Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) champion and Horse of the Year Saint Liam, 1 1/2-mile Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1) winner Beach Patrol, 1 3/16-mile Preakness (G1) winner Bernardini, and 1 1/4-mile Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1) victor Hard Aces, to name just a few.

So when you cut through the noise and look at the hard data, there’s no reason to conclude Charlatan has the breeding of a sprinter/miler. To the contrary, with an ideal blend of sprinting speed and classic stamina in his pedigree, Charlatan might be one of the best-bred runners on the Derby trail.