Kentucky Derby Pedigree Profile: O Besos
Kentucky Derby (G1) winners might be elite racehorses, but they don’t necessarily make elite stallions. Derby winners who sire Derby winners are a relative rarity; in the long history of the “Run for the Roses,” there have been only 12 Derby-winning father/son duos, most recently when 1990 Derby hero Unbridled sired 1996 Derby winner Grindstone.
This formidable bit of history will be put to the test when O Besos starts in the 2021 Kentucky Derby. The late-charging Louisiana Derby (G2) third-place finisher is a son of Orb, who employed identical stretch-running tactics to prevail in the 2013 Kentucky Derby. A quarter of a century after Unbridled and Grindstone, can Orb become the latest Derby winner to sire a Derby winner?
It’s a tough question. Orb was certainly bred like a Derby winner; sire Malibu Moon is responsible for a bevy of Grade 1 winners running one mile or farther, while Orb’s damsire is none other than Unbridled. The latter might be a stamina influence, but Malibu Moon brought a dose of miler speed to the equation, providing the balance of speed and stamina so often necessary for success in the Kentucky Derby.
As for Orb, he’s yet to set the world on fire at stud. Through April 18, he’s sired just one graded stakes winner from four crops of foals, with Sippican Harbor prevailing in the seven-furlong Spinaway (G1) as a juvenile at Saratoga. But to Orb’s credit, his progeny have excelled over a wide variety of distances and surfaces—sprints and routes, dirt and turf, the Orbs seem to handle it all. Much like Malibu Moon, Orb brings an element of speed to the mix, so we don’t have to worry about the irony of Orb being too much of a stamina influence to sire a Kentucky Derby winner.
In fact, one can argue Orb’s stud record leans a little too far toward speed, but at least O Besos’ pedigree is backed up on the dam's side by some solid (if not instantly recognizable) two-turn lineage.
O Besos’ dam, Snuggs and Kisses, was never up to competing at the graded stakes level, but she did conclude her career with a tenacious victory over Grade 1 winner Daisy Devine in the 1 1/16-mile Bayou H. at Fair Grounds. Prior to the emergence of O Besos, her most accomplished foal was Transatlantic Kiss, runner-up in the Kelly’s Landing S. sprinting seven furlongs at Churchill Downs. But Snuggs and Kisses is also the dam of Six Percent, a maiden and allowance winner over distances from one mile to 1 1/16 miles.
Snuggs and Kisses, in turn, is a daughter of Soto, who displayed an affinity for Churchill Downs (and for racing two turns) when rallying to victory in the 1 1/16-mile Kentucky Jockey Club (G2). The once-beaten son of elite sprinter/miler Dehere was eventually sold to stand at stud in Saudi Arabia, but prior to his departure from North America, Soto sired a few notable runners. Suni won multiple Group 1 races on the National Association of Racing (NAR) circuit in Japan, including the 1,600-meter Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun (G1), while Kaweah Princess stretched out over 1 1/8 miles to win the Ballerina (G3) at Hastings Racecourse in Canada.
From limited opportunities, Soto has also enjoyed some success as a broodmare sire. His unraced daughter Whom Shall I Fear produced Fear the Cowboy, winner of the 1 1/8-mile Skip Away (G3) and third in the 1 1/4-mile Santa Anita H. (G1), while Kaweah Princess foaled the 1 1/8-mile West Virginia Derby (G3) runner-up Game Over.
Any analysis of O Besos’ pedigree must acknowledge that his sire, dam, and damsire aren’t known for churning out Grade 1 winners like clockwork, so from a class perspective, it’s fair to wonder if the Kentucky Derby is a bridge too far for O Besos. But the history of racing is filled with stories of unheralded horses outrunning humble bloodlines to achieve greatness, and at least running 1 1/4 miles should be within reach for O Besos. Maybe—just maybe—O Besos can follow in the footsteps of his sire and secure a career-defining victory on the first Saturday in May.