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Kentucky Derby pedigree profile: Two Phil's

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

March 27th, 2023

Although Two Phil’s has shown talent on dirt, winning the Street Sense (G3) and placing in the Lecomte (G3) and Risen Star (G2), he elevated his game to a new level when tackling a synthetic Tapeta track in the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) at Turfway Park.

The Jeff Ruby saw Two Phil’s settle off the pace before unleashing a strong outside rally to draw off and dominate the Road to the Kentucky Derby qualifier by 5 1/4 lengths. Clearly he handles synthetic as well or better than dirt, which isn’t surprising when you dig into his pedigree.

Two Phil's Pedigree
Danzig
Hard Spun
Turkish Tryst
Two Phil's
General Quarters
Mia Torri
Flip the Stone

Two Phil’s is a son of Hard Spun, a top-notch dirt racer best known for winning the King’s Bishop (G1) and placing in the Kentucky Derby (G1), Preakness (G1), and Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). Hard Spun achieved so much on dirt that it’s easy to forget he qualified to the Kentucky Derby via a win in the Jeff Ruby (then known as the Lane’s End) over Turfway’s since-replaced synthetic Polytrack course. Hard Spun also won the Kentucky Cup Classic (G2) over the Turfway Polytrack.

Two Phil’s dam is Mia Torri, a speedy dirt sprinter who won the Sugar Maple S. and Sunshine Millions Distaff. She also placed in the Charles Town Oaks (G3) and Bed o’ Roses (G3), reiterating her affinity for dashing on dirt.

But here we find another subtle source of synthetic strength. Mia Torri is a daughter of General Quarters, a versatile and durable runner who won graded stakes on dirt, turf, and synthetic. His synthetic score was particularly memorable, as General Quarters locked up a Kentucky Derby berth via victory in the Blue Grass (G1) over the old Polytrack surface at Keeneland.

Given the affinity Hard Spun and General Quarters displayed for synthetic tracks, it’s easy to understand why Two Phil’s took to Tapeta like a duck to water. But as we mentioned, Hard Spun was as good or better on dirt, and General Quarters seemed to handle all surfaces with equal aplomb. It might be safer to say Two Phil’s has inherited their versatility more than any specific fondness for synthetic, hence his fine dirt efforts prior to the Jeff Ruby.

Certainly Hard Spun has shown the ability to sire major winners across multiple surfaces. His many Grade 1 winners on dirt include champion Questing, Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) winner Aloha West, and Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) hero Spun to Run. On turf, Hard Spun’s progeny including Arlington Million (G1) winner Hardest Core, three-time Grade 1 winner Hard Not to Like, and Australian Group 1 winners Le Romain and Gatting.

As for General Quarters, he’s best known known as the sire of Signalman, winner of the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) and placed in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), Breeders’ Futurity (G1), Blue Grass (G2), and Matt Winn (G3) on dirt.

If there’s one unifying tendency amidst all this multi-surface versatility, it’s the fact both Hard Spun and General Quarters were classy route runners who pass on a respectable amount of stamina at stud. Hard Spun’s runners win at the solid average distance of 7.4 furlongs, while the progeny of General Quarters have compiled an average winning distance of 7.1 furlongs.

So the takeaway is clear, but multifaceted. There are enough dirt and stamina influences in the pedigree of Two Phil’s to suggest handling 1 1/4 miles on dirt in the Kentucky Derby (G1) is a realistic possibility. But should his Derby bid fall short, Two Phil’s has every opportunity to reconfigure himself as a synthetic or turf campaigner.

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