Kentucky Derby Pedigree Profile: Rombauer

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

February 16th, 2021

Dirt…turf…synthetic…Rombauer has run well across all three surfaces. On the road to the Kentucky Derby (G1), he’s displayed impressive versatility by winning the El Camino Real Derby over Tapeta and placing second in the American Pharoah (G1) on dirt.

What is the secret to Rombauer’s multi-surface success? The answer is simple—it’s his pedigree. Rombauer is a son of Twirling Candy out of an unraced Cowboy Cal mare, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a more versatile combination of bloodlines.

Consider, for example, Twirling Candy. The son of leading sire Candy Ride won graded stakes over all three racing surfaces, including the seven-furlong Malibu (G1) on dirt. Stout enough to place twice against Grade 1 company running 1 1/4 miles, Twirling Candy has sired successful sprinters and routers alike over dirt, turf, and synthetic tracks.

Cowboy Cal wasn’t quite as versatile as Twirling Candy, with a ninth-place effort in the Kentucky Derby ranking as his only notable run on dirt. But the five-time graded stakes winner was thoroughly capable over turf and synthetic courses, placing four times against Grade 1 company over distances up to 1 1/4 miles.

While not a rousing success at stud (he currently stands in South Korea), Cowboy Cal has certainly imparted adaptability to his progeny. Marquee Miss was a five-time stakes winner sprinting and routing on dirt and synthetic. Fear the Cowboy won the Skip Away (G3) and Harlan’s Holiday (G3) running long on dirt. Simple Surprise was a stakes-winning turf sprinter, and Mr. Ninja nabbed the Premio Independencia (G2) racing 1 1/2 miles on dirt in Peru.

Cementing Rombauer’s multi-faceted pedigree is the produce record of his dam, Cashmere. Her three runners prior to Rombauer have shown widely varying racing preferences. Treasure Trove is a multiple allowance winner running long on dirt, Fly Time has enjoyed success in claiming sprints on dirt, and Cono—a multiple allowance winner on synthetic—is best known for finishing third in the 1 1/8-mile Unusual Heat Turf Classic S. on turf.

Having explored the origins of Rombauer’s versatility, we must address another question—can he handle the testing 1 1/4-mile distance of the Kentucky Derby?  In theory, the distance could be a challenge; Twirling Candy and Cowboy Cal were arguably at their best running a bit shorter than 1 1/4 miles, and the average winning distances of their progeny (6.7 furlongs and 6.8 furlongs, respectively) suggest they tend to pass on more speed than stamina.

But then again, Twirling Candy has already sired several notable runners over 1 1/4 miles, including Santa Anita H. (G1) winner Gift Box (a dirt star), Belmont Oaks (G1) winner Concrete Rose (a classy turf filly), and Queen’s Plate S. winner One Bad Boy (a menace on synthetic).

In short, there’s probably enough stamina in the equation for Rombauer to see out the Kentucky Derby distance. And even if he falters on the first Saturday in May, Rombauer will still have plenty of racing options—on dirt, turf, and synthetic alike—for the remainder of 2021 and beyond.