Kentucky Derby Pedigree Profile: Country Grammer

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

July 19th, 2020

Although there’s a mixture of speed and stamina in the pedigree of Country Grammer, if his gutsy triumph in the Peter Pan (G3) is any indication, the stout and late-maturing bloodlines in the top half of his pedigree are proving to be the dominant factor.

Country Grammer Pedigree
Settling Mist
Country Grammer
Arabian Song
Prima Centauri

Country Grammer is a son of 2014 Belmont Stakes (G1) winner, Tonalist, who first emerged as a high-class runner late in the spring of his 3-year-old season. In retrospect, Tonalist’s upset victory in the 1 1/2-mile “Test of the Champion” shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Tonalist is one of three Belmont Stakes winner sired by Wood Memorial (G1) winner and three-time North American leading sire Tapit, a male-line descendant of 1992 Belmont Stakes victor and renowned stamina influence A.P. Indy.

Furthermore, Tonalist was produced by Settling Mist, a daughter of 1981 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1) winner Pleasant Colony, whose best runners at stud included U.S. champions Pleasant Stage and Pleasant Tap plus Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Pleasantly Perfect, all Grade 1 winners racing 1 1/16 miles or farther.

Tonalist continued to race with success through the end of his 4-year-old season, winning back-to-back editions of the 1 1/4-mile Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) while also demonstrating enough versatility to cut back in distance and claim the Cigar Mile (G1). Retired to stud in 2016, Tonalist is busy stamping his progeny with heavy doses of stamina. The average winning distance of his runners is 7.7 furlongs—a lofty number for such a young stallion—with one-mile Davona Dale (G2) winner Tonalist’s Shape and 1 1/16-mile Honeybee (G3) runner-up Alta’s Award among his most successful performers to date.

It’s safe to say Country Grammer is taking after Tonalist, because the bottom half of his pedigree is geared much more toward speed. Country Grammer’s dam, Arabian Song, counted a 6-furlong maiden claiming race as her lone victory from six starts, and the two winners she foaled prior to Country Grammer have failed to win beyond 6 1/2 furlongs.

This tendency toward speed is easy to understand since Arabian Song is a daughter of Forestry, a sprinter/miler whose greatest racing triumph came in the King’s Bishop (G1) dashing 7 furlongs at Saratoga. But then again, perhaps it’s unfair to peg Forestry as exclusively a sire of sprinters. While the average winning distance of his foals is just 6.3 furlongs, Forestry is also the sire of Shackleford, who stretched his speed far enough to win the 2011 Preakness over 1 3/16 miles and the 2012 Clark H. (G1) racing 1 1/8 miles.

Even better, daughters of Forestry have produced several long-winded runners of very high class, including 2016 Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist and 2020 Manhattan (G1) victor Instilled Regard. Remember, his own strength as a sprinter aside, Forestry actually has the pedigree of a classy route runner. Sire Storm Cat is responsible for such significant two-turn standouts as Preakness and Belmont winner Tabasco Cat, Breeders’ Cup Classic conqueror Cat Thief, and European superstar Giant’s Causeway, while Forestry’s damsire is the above-mentioned Pleasant Colony.

In short, crossing the undeniably stout bloodlines of Tonalist with the speed-oriented (but richly textured) genetics of Forestry has produced a colt with great potential. Country Grammer is clearly improving with maturity and figures to thrive over the 1 1/4-mile distance of the Kentucky Derby, stamping him as an up-and-coming threat for the first Saturday in September.