Kentucky Derby pedigree profile: Dash Attack

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

January 3rd, 2022

Can a son of a sprinter win the Kentucky Derby (G1) racing 1 1/4 miles at Churchill Downs? It’s happened before, and it could happen again when Smarty Jones S. winner Dash Attack tackles the 2022 “Run for the Roses.”

Normally when handicappers analyze the pedigrees of Kentucky Derby contenders, they look for horses obviously bred to excel over classic distances. If a Derby contender is sired by a stallion who won a leg of the Triple Crown, great! And if that stallion has sired a classic winner or two at stud, even better.

But recent years have seen speedier pedigrees succeed in the Kentucky Derby. Into Mischief, a Grade 1-winning sprinter/miler, turned out 2020 Derby winner Authentic. Scat Daddy, a miler capable of stretching out over 1 1/8 miles, sired 2018 Triple Crown hero Justify. And brilliant miler Uncle Mo sired 2016 Derby winner Nyquist.

That’s why it’s hard to dismiss Dash Attack just because he’s a son of Munnings. Like Into Mischief and Scat Daddy before him, Munnings has developed a reputation for passing on speed at stud. In 2021, his most successful runners were Champagne S. (G1) winner Jack Christopher, Madison S. (G1) heroine Kimari, and Starlet S. (G1) winner Eda—all Grade 1 winners over distances from seven furlongs to 1 1/16 miles. That’s pretty much the definition of miler speed.

Munnings propensity to pass on speed isn’t surprising, since he’s a son of champion sprinter Speightstown. Munnings himself scored three graded wins sprinting seven furlongs, including a blowout success in the Woody Stephens S. (G2). But dig a little deeper, and there are reasons to be optimistic about Munnings siring a Kentucky Derby type.

For starters, Munnings was more than just a sprinter—he finished second in the one-mile Champagne S. (G1) and third in the 1 1/8-mile Haskell S. (G1), showcasing a bit more stamina than first meets the eye. Furthermore, one of Munnings best runners is three-time Grade 1 winner I’m a Chatterbox, who successfully stretched her speed over 1 1/4 miles to win the Delaware H. (G1).

Speightstown has likewise shown a tendency to churn out elite route runners when you least expect it—he’s the sire of Golden Ticket, Force the Pass, Haynesfield, Seek Again, and Competitionofideas, all Grade 1 winners over 1 1/4 miles.

And it’s not like Dash Attack has to rely exclusively on the bloodlines of Munnings to stretch out over 1 1/4 miles. He can also pull some support from his dam, Cerce Cay. A maiden winner racing 1 1/8 miles, Cerce Cay has foaled three starters so far, and all have won running one mile or farther.

Cerce Cay is a daughter of Hard Spun, a brilliant speedster who scored his signature victory in the seven-furlong King’s Bishop S. (G1). But Hard Spun was also stout enough to place second in the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) over 1 1/4 miles, and many of his foals have proven successful over extended distances. Questing nabbed the 1 1/4-mile Alabama S. (G1), Hard Aces won the 1 1/4-mile Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1), Hardest Core claimed the 1 1/4-mile Arlington Million (G1), and Rocketry won the Marathon S. (G2) over 1 3/4 miles.

Hard Spun has also enjoyed success as a broodmare sire, with his daughters producing such notable names as Kentucky Derby runner-up Good Magic and 1 5/8-mile Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance S. (G2) winner Lone Rock. Clearly, Hard Spun is capable of passing on stamina, even though speed was his own best weapon.

The takeaway? Dash Attack might not be the most classically-bred Kentucky Derby contender, but the blend of speed and stamina in his lineage might just carry him to victory on the first Saturday in May.