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Monday, May 3, 2010

How Difficult is It to Sire a Derby Winner?

With Super Saver becoming the second Kentucky Derby winner for the deceased Maria’s Mon, it got me thinking about the other great sires who have accomplished this feat.

In the early years (probably due to a more limited number of stallions) there were plenty who sired multiple winners, beginning with Virgil whose sons Vagrant (1876), Hindoo (1881) and Ben Ali (1886) won the Derby. There were others such as Broomstick, McGee, Black Toney and St. Germans who sired dual-winners but the only others to sire three Derby winners were:

Falsetto: Chant (1894), His Eminence (1901) and Sir Huon (1906)
Sir Gallahad III: Gallant Fox (1930), Gallahadion (1940) and Hoop, Jr. (1945)
Bull Lea: Citation (1948), Hill Gail (1952) and Iron Liege (1957)

Interestingly, none of the stallions mentioned above actually won the Derby themselves.

Sir Gallahad III was also the broodmare sire to Johnstown (1939) and Jet Pilot (1947) while Bull Lea’s daughter Two Lea produced by Tom Fool the great Tim Tim (1957). Tom Fool’s daughter Fool-Me-Not was the dam of Foolish Pleasure (1975).

As a broodmare sire, probably the most impressive early producer was Lexington whose daughters produced Aristides (1875), Day Star (1878), Hindoo (1881), and Ben Ali (1886). Others whose daughters birthed three Derby victors include:

King Alfonso: Lookout (1893), Chant (1894) and Agile (1905)
Hanover: Worth (1912), Donerail (1913) and Sir Barton (1919)
Blenheim II: Ponder (1949), Hill Gail (1952) and Kauai King (1966)

Since 1970, there have been four stallions to sire multiple Derby winners:

Bold Bidder: Cannonade (1974) and Spectacular Bid (1979)
Exclusive Native: Affirmed (1978) and Genuine Risk (1980)
Halo: Sunny’s Halo (1983) and Sunday Silence (1989)
Alydar: Alysheba (1987) and Strike the Gold (1991)

Interestingly, both Alydar and Exclusive Native were sons of Raise a Native, while Halo’s sire was Hail to Reason and Bold Bidder was by Bold Ruler—and none of these seven horses won the Derby themselves. Also, none of their aforementioned sons (and daughter) has produced a Derby winner.

As broodmare sires, Drone has done well with Grindstone (1996) and Charismatic (1999), while Dixieland Band produced Monarchos (2001) and Street Sense (2007).

As for Derby winners producing Derby winners, it’s actually quite rare. Reigh Count (1928) sired 1945 Triple Crown winner Count Fleet who in turn sired 1951 winner Count Turf. 1944 winner Pensive sired 1949 winner Ponder who in turn sired 1956 winner Needles. 1930 Triple Crown victor Gallant Fox is the only Derby winner to have sired another Triple Crown winner, Omaha (1935). Swaps (1955) sired Chateaugay (1963).

So, while Super Saver may indeed have a promising stud career ahead of him, history suggests that chances are quite slim one of his sons or daughters will repeat his feat—although not entirely outside the realm of possibility. And that just proves how exceptional being a Kentucky Derby winner is.


GiantsCauseway said...

Hard to imagine Winstar not standing Super Saver in their own program. The corporate approach may or may not succeed. One thing is certain, the attitude in Versailles is "Why them". Good neighbors in the community they are not.