Kentucky Derby pedigree profile: Pioneer of Medina

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

April 24th, 2022

Fourth in the Risen Star S. (G2) and third in the Louisiana Derby (G2), Pioneer of Medina is coming to hand just in time to take a tilt at the Kentucky Derby (G1).

It’s hardly surprising to see the speedy bay colt progressing in a positive direction at this time of year, considering his pedigree is stacked with horses who thrived during the springs of their sophomore seasons.

Pioneer of Medina is a son of Pioneerof the Nile, who matured early enough to win the CashCall Futurity (G1) at age two. But Pioneerof the Nile was far from a one-hit juvenile wonder; to the contrary, he progressed to win the Robert B. Lewis S. (G2), San Felipe S. (G2), and Santa Anita Derby (G1) at age three before finishing second in the Kentucky Derby.

Pioneerof the Nile has achieved an even greater legacy at stud, with his son American Pharoah famously developing from a two-year-old champion into a Triple Crown winner. Meanwhile, Pioneerof the Nile is a son of Belmont S. (G1) winner Empire Maker, who counts Kentucky Derby runner-up Bodemeister and Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming among his male-line descendants. And Empire Maker himself is a son of Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled, whose male-line descendants include Kentucky Derby winners Grindstone and Mine That Bird plus Belmont winners Birdstone and Summer Bird.

Clearly, the top half of Pioneer of Medina’s pedigree is geared toward success in the spring classics. For good measure, the bottom half contains plenty of promise as well.

Pioneer of Medina is the first foal produced by Lights of Medina, who won the 1 1/16-mile Weber City Miss S. and placed second by a head in the 1 1/8-mile Black-Eyed Susan S. (G2) during the spring of her three-year-old season. Lights of Medina is a daughter of Eskendereya out of the Thunder Gulch mare Medina Thunder, which offers multiple layers of Triple Crown potential.

Eskendereya, for example, secured his signature victory in the Wood Memorial (G1) just four weeks prior to the Kentucky Derby. He would have been favored to win the Run for the Roses if an injury hadn’t knocked him out of the race.

Meanwhile, Thunder Gulch had the good fortune to sandwich victories in the Kentucky Derby and Belmont around a close third-place finish in the Preakness S. (G1), nearly managing a sweep of the Triple Crown. And Thunder Gulch went on to sire Point Given, voted 2001 Horse of the Year off victories in the Preakness and Belmont.

In short, there’s little (if anything) to knock about Pioneer of Medina’s lineage. He’s bred top and bottom to peak as a three-year-old and handle classic distances, so the only question is whether Pioneer of Medina has inherited enough talent from his illustrious ancestors to outrun his rivals at Churchill Downs.

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