Kentucky Derby Pedigree Profile: Sainthood

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

April 18th, 2021

Looking for a horse who’s bred to handle the Kentucky Derby distance, even if his pedigree isn’t particularly flashy? Look no further than Sainthood.

Sold for just $62,000 as a yearling, Sainthood has already shown versatility for two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Todd Pletcher. He qualified for the Kentucky Derby with a runner-up performance in the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) over the synthetic track at Turfway Park. But Sainthood is far from a synthetic specialist—he previously broke his maiden on dirt at the Fair Grounds.

Sainthood has surely inherited this versatility at least in part from his sire, Mshawish. Over the course of five seasons, Mshawish toured the globe, racing in France, England, the U.S., Hong Kong, and Dubai. Much of his success came on turf, including a tenacious victory in the 1 1/8-mile Gulfstream Park Turf H. (G1). But he was also thoroughly capable on dirt, cruising by two lengths in the 1 1/8-mile Donn H. (G1).

Mshawish’s first foals are just three years of age, so he’s yet to establish a reputation at stud. But it’s not a stretch to believe he’s capable of siring long-winded dirt runners. After all, Mshawish is a son of Medaglia d’Oro, a stamina influence best known for siring 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra. Furthermore, dam Thunder Bayou is by Thunder Gulch, winner of the 1995 Kentucky Derby and Belmont (G1), and sire of 2001 Preakness (G1) and Belmont hero Point Given.

Sainthood figures to receive another dose of stamina from the bottom half of his pedigree. While his dam, Lemon Hero, was strictly a sprinter (placing in the six-furlong Manhattan Beach S. behind future Grade 1 winner Byrama), she’s bred to pass on stamina. Her sire is Lemon Drop Kid, who matured early enough to win the Futurity (G1) as a juvenile before adding the Belmont, Travers (G1), Whitney H. (G1), and Woodward (G1) to his glowing resume of major victories between one mile and 1 1/2 miles.

As a stallion, one can usually count on Lemon Drop Kid to pass on stamina to his descendants. Sons Beach Patrol and Richard’s Kid both won multiple Grade 1 races running 1 1/4 miles or farther, while Cannock Chase took the 1 1/2-mile Canadian International (G1), and Lemons Forever claimed the 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Oaks (G1).

Lemons Forever, in turn, has contributed to Lemon Drop Kid’s solid record as a broodmare sire. She foaled 1 1/8-mile Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) winner Forever Unbridled, and seven-furlong Ballerina (G1) heroine Unbridled Forever, who carried her speed well enough to place in a trio of Grade 1 races between one mile and 1 1/8 miles.

Other notable runners produced by daughters of Lemon Drop Kid include Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner Tamarkuz, Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) winners Bar of Gold and Finest City, and 1 1/8-mile Turf Classic (G1) winners Divisidero and Digital Age.

The descendants of Lemon Drop Kid have enjoyed success across all surfaces; Beach Patrol, Cannock Chase, Divisidero, and Digital Age were turf stars, while Lemons Forever, Forever Unbridled, Unbridled Forever, Tamarkus, Bar of Gold, and Finest City did their best work on dirt. Richard’s Kid was a standout on synthetic.

In short, when you combine the genetics of Mshawish and Lemon Drop Kid, you’re apt to get a horse capable of running well on any surface. Certainly Sainthood is following this path, so there’s no reason to think he won’t handle dirt (and 1 1/4 miles) just fine in the Kentucky Derby.