Kentucky Derby Pedigree Profile: Modernist

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

February 17th, 2020

You would be hard-pressed to find a better-bred Kentucky Derby (G1) contender than Modernist, who joined the Road to the 2020 Kentucky Derby with his victory in the second division of the Risen Star (G2) on Feb. 15 at Fair Grounds.

From top to bottom, Modernist’s pedigree is loaded with classic stamina and champion horses. It’s no wonder he thrived racing 1 1/8 miles in the Risen Star – this rapidly-improving colt has been seemingly destined to stretch out over long distances from the day he was born.

Modernist Pedigree
Indian Charlie
Uncle Mo
Playa Maya
Symbolic Gesture
Sweet Life

It all begins with Modernist’s sire, Uncle Mo. The champion 2-year-old male of 2010, Uncle Mo has been an instant hit at stud, siring more than 50 stakes winners from his first five crops of foals. The best of these by far has been Nyquist, the champion juvenile of 2015 and winner of the 2016 Kentucky Derby, but Unbridled Mo, Outwork, Bast, Dream Tree, and Gomo have also scored Grade 1 wins running 1 1/16 miles or farther on dirt.

Uncle Mo provides a strong dose of class and stamina to Modernist’s pedigree, but the colt’s female family is even more exciting. Modernist is the first foal produced by the unraced mare Symbolic Gesture, a daughter of the long-winded champion and 2006 Preakness (G1) winner Bernardini. A success at stud, Bernardini’s foals have typically excelled running long, with 1 1/4-mile Travers (G1) winners Alpha and Stay Thirsty ranking among his most productive progeny.

Bernardini has also been an unquestionable source of stamina as a broodmare sire; his daughters have produced Travers winner Catholic Boy, 1 1/4-mile Alabama (G1) winner Dunbar Road, 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Oaks (G1) champion Serengeti Empress, and Mexican Triple Crown winner Kukulkan, to name just a few.

But wait, there’s more! Symbolic Gesture’s dam is Sweet Life, a stakes winner going 1 1/8 miles and runner-up in the 1 1/4-mile Beverly Hills H. (G1). Sweet Life has been nothing less than a superstar broodmare, producing Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) champion Sweet Catomine and Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (G1) winner Life Is Sweet.

Suffice to say, Modernist hails from one of the most productive female families in recent racing history. Should he continue progressing and reach the winner’s circle on the first Saturday in May – a feat well within the scope of his pedigree – Modernist will add another illustrious chapter to his family legacy.