Kentucky Derby pedigree profile: Ethereal Road

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

April 24th, 2022

So far, Ethereal Road has shown promise as a dirt horse, hitting the board in the Rebel S. (G2) and Lexington S. (G3) to qualify for the Kentucky Derby (G1). But might he actually be a turf horse at heart?

You wouldn’t necessarily guess it from looking at the top half of Ethereal Road’s pedigree. His sire, Quality Road, was a four-time Grade 1 winner over distances from one mile to 1 1/8 miles on dirt. And many of Quality Road’s best foals have thrived on dirt, including champions Abel Tasman, Corniche, and Caledonia Road.

But you know what? Quality Road is also a capable sire of grass runners, a trait perhaps inherited from his own sire Elusive Quality, who once ran one mile on turf in the world-record time of 1:31.63. Quality Road’s top grass runners include Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) hero Hootenanny and Manhattan S. (G1) winner Spring Quality, to name just a couple.

The dam side of Ethereal Road’s pedigree is packed to an even greater degree with turf influences. His dam, Sustained, scored both of her victories on grass and placed in the Miss Grillo S. (G3) over the lawn at Belmont Park. As a broodmare, she’s already achieved success by producing Turned Aside, winner of the Quick Call S. (G3) and Aqueduct Turf Sprint Championship S. on grass.

This turf success isn’t surprising when you consider how Sustained is a daughter of War Front. Although War Front was best as a dirt sprinter, and has sired such noteworthy dirt horses as Preakness S. (G1) winner War of Will and three-time Grade 1 winner Omaha Beach, many of his best runners have scored their signature victories on turf. European stars Declaration of War, Lancaster Bomber, U S Navy Flag, Air Force Blue, Brave Anna, Roly Poly, and War Command join U.S. standouts Avenge, Jack Milton, Data Link, Hit It a Bomb, Halladay, Summer Soiree, American Patriot, Civil Union, War Flag, Fog of War, and even the above-mentioned War of Will among War Front’s many Grade 1 turf winners.

Clearly, Ethereal Road has the potential to thrive if he switches to grass down the road. But there’s another key takeaway from the pedigree influences we’ve outlined: a tendency for success over distances shorter than the 1 1/4-mile trip of the Kentucky Derby.

Indeed, Quality Road tends to sire runners who perform best over one mile to 1 1/8 miles, Turned Aside is a sprinter, and War Front generally sires sharp juveniles, sprinters, and milers more often than classic types. Even if Ethereal Road proves best on dirt, there’s a chance the Kentucky Derby will stretch the limits of his stamina.

Check out these other Kentucky Derby pedigree profiles
on TwinSpires