Kentucky Derby pedigree profile: Tawny Port

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

April 19th, 2022

Versatility has been a strong suit for Tawny Port. The up-and-coming sophomore qualified to the Kentucky Derby (G1) via a runner-up effort in the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) on synthetic and a victory in the Lexington S. (G3) on dirt.

Tawny Port’s multi-surface adaptability is easy to understand when you review his pedigree. From top to bottom, Tawny Port is bred to thrive on multiple surfaces. Just consider his sire, Pioneerof the Nile, who was proficient enough to win the Santa Anita Derby (G1) on synthetic and place second in the Kentucky Derby (G1) on dirt.

Such versatility is evident up and down the male line of Tawny Port’s pedigree. Pioneerof the Nile, for example, is a son of Belmont S. (G1) winner Empire Maker, a dirt star who has sired Grade 1 winners on dirt, turf, and synthetic. Among the best was Kentucky Derby runner-up Bodemeister, the sire of Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming.

Meanwhile, Pioneerof the Nile is renowned as the sire of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. The latter was obviously an elite competitor on dirt, but he also won the Del Mar Futurity (G1) on synthetic and has sired multiple Grade 1 winners on both dirt and turf.

Clearly the top half of Tawny Port’s pedigree is geared toward multi-surface versatility, and the bottom half trends in much the same direction. Tawny Port’s dam, Livi Makenzie, was a speedy filly who achieved her signature victory in the six-furlong Saylorville S. on dirt. But she also stretched her speed sufficiently to finish second in the 1 1/16-mile Optimistic Gal S. and third in the one-mile Gardenia S. (G3), and she displayed synthetic-track prowess when running third in the Beaumont S. (G2) dashing about seven furlongs.

Tawny Port is Livi Makenzie’s fourth foal to reach the races. Two of her first three starters have visited the winner’s circle, with Betrothed breaking her maiden sprinting on dirt and Broadway Lady winning three times over 1 1/16 miles on turf.

Livi Makenzie, in turn, is a daughter of champion two-year-old Macho Uno, a Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner known for siring top-notch dirt stars such as Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Mucho Macho Man, four-time U.S. Grade 1 winner Private Zone, and Stephen Foster H. (G1) runner-up Macho Again. But lest we forget, Macho Uno is also the sire of Breeders’ Futurity (G1) winner Wicked Style (who achieved his signature victory on synthetic) and multiple graded stakes winner Overheard (a tried-and-true turf star).

The 1 1/4-mile distance of the Kentucky Derby shouldn’t be an issue for Tawny Port, considering his male line is dotted with classic winners, and his female family is plenty stout as well. Nor should the dirt surface prove problematic.

The only question is whether Tawny Port is fast enough to win the Run for the Roses, which won’t be answered for certain until the first Saturday in May. Of course, if Tawny Port does falter, he’ll have no shortage of other races to target across multiple surfaces for the remainder of his career.