Watch Out for Dortmund

Profile Picture: James Scully

December 11th, 2014



Big Brown—Our Josephina, by Tale of the Cat


Kaleem Shah


Emilie Gerlinde Fojan


Bob Baffert

Best BRIS Speed rating

98 (Nov. 29 allowance)




Big, fast & talented. Dortmund owns no stakes or two-turn experience, but supporters unequivocally believe in his potential.

As a result of spectacular wins over maiden special weight and entry-level allowance foes, Dortmund was bet down as the 9-1 favorite among individual interests in Pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager.

He ran to his even-money odds when making his debut at 6 ½ furlongs versus 10 foes on the closing day of the Santa Anita fall meet, November 2, rallying from sixth in the early stages to score by a widening 4 ¾-length margin, and netted a respectable 89 BRIS Speed rating.

Next came a one-mile allowance at Churchill Downs on November 29 and despite drawing post 12, bettors hammered Dortmund as the 2-5 favorite. Not that it would have made any difference but given the colt’s massive size, connections were probably happy to see him avoid being drawn inside in the large field.

Martin Garcia had little to worry about as he kept the chestnut well off the rail the entire way. Dortmund was eager to run from the start and was kept under a snug hold as he stalked a couple of lengths back down the backstretch, and he simply pulled himself to the lead approaching the conclusion of the far turn.

Dortmund accelerated away with the greatest of ease entering the stretch and continued to draw off late despite being under wraps, hitting the finish line 7 ¾ lengths clear.

His 98 BRIS Speed rating was exactly what you wanted to see – a solid figure that is probably nowhere near his ceiling.

Trainer Bob Baffert compared him to 2001 Horse of the Year Point Given, another chestnut whose halter read “Big Red” given his imposing physical dimensions and dominance on track (I saw Point Given walking to the paddock before his Travers win and thought he might breathe fire).


Baffert is a three-time Kentucky Derby winner (second behind D. Wayne Lukas’ four among modern trainers) and has also saddled three runner-ups from 24 starters. The 61-year-old Hall of Famer can get the best out of a horse on the first Saturday in May.

He nearly captured the 2012 edition with Bodemeister, who led from start until deep stretch, finishing second to I’ll Have Another, and sustained a tough break when top contender Hoppertunity was withdrawn a couple of days before the 2014 running due to injury – the latter showed his affinity for Churchill Downs when capturing the Grade 1 Clark Handicap six months later.

However, Baffert hasn’t won the Derby since War Emblem in 2002.

Martin Garcia has been up for both starts. The possibility remains that Baffert could switch to Mike Smith or another Derby-winning jockey, but Garcia has ridden three times in the first leg of the Triple Crown and captured the 2011 Kentucky Oaks aboard Plum Pretty for Baffert.

He’s also the regular rider of Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Bayern, who has the same owner as Dortmund in Kaleem Shah.

Pedigree/Sales History

Shah purchased Dortmund for $140,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Maryland May two-year-old sale, the top auction price for an offspring of sire Big Brown in 2014. Dortmund initially sold for $90,000 as a yearling.

Big Brown posted major wins in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Florida Derby and Haskell Invitational en route to being named champion three-year-old of 2008, but he hasn’t lived up to that level of success at stud. His top offspring from three crops to race include Grade/Group 3 victors Darwin and Big Wildcat; and stakes winners Ground Transport, Kiss to Remember and Brown Almighty.

After being syndicated to Three Chimneys Farm in Central Kentucky, the stallion was relocated to Dutchess Views Farms near Pine Plains, New York where he stands for an $8,500 fee in 2015.

Bred in Kentucky by Emilie Gerlinde Fojan, Dortmund is out of the stakes-winning Tale of the Cat mare Our Josephina. None of her first four foals to race accomplished much.

Tale of the Cat, a son of the legendary Storm Cat and out of the Mr. Prospector mare Yarn, is perhaps best-known as the sire of three-time champion Gio Ponti and is also responsible for this year’s Alabama Stakes winner Stopchargingmaria.

Our Josephina made 13 of her 14 starts in sprints, but there are number of stamina influences in her bloodlines. She’s out of a Danzig mare (Ropa Usada) and Dortmund’s third maternal dam, champion two-year-old filly Lakeville Miss, posted a six-length victory in the 1 ½-mile Coaching Club American Oaks, one of four Grade 1 victories in her stellar career.

Dortmund could prove well-suited for the Kentucky Derby distance.


There’s plenty of buzz surrounding Dortmund and I’m looking forward to his stakes debut.

Like sire Big Brown, who was fast but didn’t need the lead to win, the long-striding Dortmund has displayed excellent tactical speed so far, registering BRIS E1 and E2 Pace ratings in the 90s each time, and probably would’ve won those starts wire to wire if sent from the break.

He’s an outstanding prospect at this stage.