Belmont Stakes Pedigree Preview
Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire
By Ren Carothers
What a strange, long road 2020 has been thus far, yet we’re only to June, and only now is the road to the Triple Crown set to commence. The series is inverted this year, with the $1,000,000, G1 Belmont Stakes, now a 150-point prep for September 5th’s Kentucky Derby, kicking things off at a shortened-up 1- 1/8th miles Saturday. A solid, 10-horse field will be heading postward, and, hey, if they can make it here, perhaps it is, indeed, an indication they can “make it anywhere” – including at Churchill Downs.
With plenty of past performance analysis available, here is a pedigree-based perspective on the field, with emphasis on Breeders’ Cup connections, among them, A.P. Indy. The late Hall of Famer, who won the Belmont Stakes in 1992 ahead of triumph in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, is found in the genetic goods of six-of-ten of this year’s entrants – four of them through grandson Tapit. Tapit himself has sired three traditional Belmont victors since 2014 (Tonalist, 2016 Creator, 2017 Tapwrit). Sure, the distance is shorter this go-around, but it’s still over Big Sandy.
Let’s take a closer look:
#1 TAP IT TO WIN 6-1 ML
Owner: Live Oak Plantation
Trainer: Mark Casse
Jockey: John Velazquez
Breeder: Live Oak Stud
This ridgling son of Tapit debuted sprinting on turf at Woodbine, showing speed from the jump, despite settling for second that day. He went on to score impressively by 3-1/2 lengths on the dirt at Saratoga, leading bettors to send him off at 3-1 in the G1 Breeders’ Futurity, but a headstrong performance and another last place finish in the Street Sense closed out the season. Mental maturity could be credited for Tap It to Win being 2-for-2 in 2020, and he has a pedigree that physically develops with time, too.
In addition to being by Tapit, he is out of Onepointhreekarats, a multiple stakes winner who did not even make her debut until four-years-old. She’s a daughter of multiple G1W Medaglia d’Oro, who won the Jim Dandy and Travers Stakes between runner-up performances in the 2002 Belmont and Breeders’ Cup Classic. He went on to pick up G1s in the Whitney and Donn as an older horse, as well as 2nds in the 2003 Pacific Classic, Breeders’ Cup Classic, and 2004 Dubai World Cup. Adding more intrigue to his pedigree-presence is the fact that Tap It to Win’s grandmother, stakes placed Beaties For Real, is a ½ sister to G2P Ivanavinalot. It was on a cover of Medaglia d’Oro that Ivanavinalot produced a two-time champion and multi-millionaire named Songbird, whose lengthy list of accomplishments include nine G1 scores, among them the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, and an edge-of-your-seat whisker miss in the 2016 Breeders Cup Distaff to four-time Eclipse champion Beholder.
#2 SOLE VOLANTE 9-2 ML
Owner: Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Andie Biancone
Trainer: Patrick Biancone
Jockey: Luca Panici
Breeder: Flaxman Holdings Limited
It should come as no surprise that Sole Volante started his career, with success, on the grass, scoring on debut and then taking the Pulpit Stakes by two-lengths, when you consider the pedigree. He’s a son of multiple G1W Karakontie, 2014’s Breeders’ Cup Mile victor, and inbred to two-time Mile champion, and Hall of Famer, Miesque, as she is Karakontie’s maternal great-grandmother in addition to being the mother of Sole Volante’s damsire, Kingmambo. Kingmambo himself was a multiple Gr1 winner, but offers surface versality, as we’ve already seen with Sole Volante scoring the Sam F. Davis, notching a 95 Beyer Speed Figure, which he matched last out going a mile on the main track at Gulfstream Park.
While the siblings of Sole Volante’s dam include full sister Light Shift, who won the Epsom Oaks and went on to produce multiple Gr1W Ulysses (Coral Eclipse, Juddmonte International), there are plenty of other names in the genetic mix to support the dirt form. Remember, Karakontie’s dam is by 1989’s Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic champion, Sunday Silence, and Kingmambo is a son of Mr. Prospector.
#3 MAX PLAYER 15-1 ML
Owner: George Hall and SportBLX Thoroughbreds Corp.
Trainer: Linda Rice
Jockey: Joel Rosario
Breeder: K & G Stables
Here is another A.P. Indy representative, as Max is by one of the Hall of Famer’s champion sons in 2015’s Champion Older Horse, Honor Code, whose maternal great-grandma is another Hall of Famer in Serena’s Song. Another key factor to note in regard to Honor Code is that he put in one of his best performances at Belmont Park, earning a 112BSF winning the Metropolitan Handicap.
Max is a ½ brother to Gr2W/Gr1P Seahenge and out of the stakes winning mare, Fools In Love. She is a daughter of Not For Love, making her a ¾ sister to millionaire International Star. In 2015, he picked up the LeComte, Risen Star, and Louisiana Derby.
This will be Max’s first contest around Big Sandy, but he’s shown up in all three starts, finishing just a ½ length second on debut going a mile at Parx, followed by a 4-1/4 score in the slop, and last out, a 3-1/4 triumph in the G3 Withers. Runner-up Shotski next ran 4th in the G2 Fountain of Youth.
#4 MODERNIST 15-1 ML
Owner: Martin and Pam Wygod
Trainer: Bill Mott
Jockey: Junior Alvarado
Breeder: Wygod Family LLC
Divisional Risen Star winner Modernist is a son of 2010’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Eclipse Champion Two-Year-Old-Colt, Uncle Mo. He’s also bringing A.P. Indy genes to the table, as his dam, Symbolic Gesture, is a daughter of another of his decorated sons, 2006’s Eclipse Champion Three-Year-Old Male, Bernardini. While Bernardini ran for only one season, he won six-of-eight starts, with his only losses coming in his first and last races: 4th on debut and 2nd to Invasor in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Bernardini’s dam, Cara Rafaela, also had to settle for 2nd in a Breeders’ Cup race, losing to My Flag in the 1995 Juvenile Fillies. In addition to talent on track and as a stallion, Bernardini has been making headlines as a broodmare sire. G1Ws Serengeti Empress (Kentucky Oaks), Catholic Boy (Belmont Derby Invitational, Travers), and Maxfield (Breeders’ Futurity) are just three such examples.
Modernist’s dam was unraced, but is a daughter of SW/MG1P Sweet Life, who was named Broodmare of the Year in 2009. It was a deserving title, as Sweet Life has produced two Breeders’ Cup champions: 2004’s Juvenile Fillies winner Sweet Catomine and Life is Sweet, winner of the 2009 Distaff.
We’ll see if a better draw puts this colt, who has been working impressively, and with the likes of Tacitus, in better position.
#5 FARMINGTON ROAD 15-1 ML
Owner: Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Chrysalis Stables LLC, Robert LaPenta
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Breeder: Chrysalis Stables
Farmington Road has only raced over the Belmont main once, but his sire, multi-millionaire Quality Road, picked up one of his G1 scores in the 2010 Metropolitan Handicap. He was also 2nd in the sloppy 2009 Jockey Club Gold Cup. The accomplished runner didn’t fare so well in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, his final start, but he’s been sensational as a sire and has already seen three of his progeny lauded at the championships: Hootenanny (2014 Juvenile Turf), Caldedonia Road (2017 Juvenile Fillies), and City of Light (2018 Dirt Mile).
Offering a kind of symmetry, Farmington Road’s dam, multiple stakes placed Silver La Belle, is a daughter of another Met Mile winner in Langfuhr, who won the 1997 edition. It was Langfuhr’s 2nd G1 victory at Belmont, as he won the 1996 Vosburgh Stakes, as well.
#6 FORE LEFT 30-1 ML
Owner: Reddam Racing LLC
Trainer: Doug O’Neill
Jockey: Jose Ortiz
Breeder: Machmer Hall
Fore Left is a stakes winner over the Belmont surface, having won the 5.5 furlong Tremont by 4-1/2 lengths last year. He picked up the show dough in Del Mar’s G2 Best Pal, won the restricted Sunny Slope Stakes at Santa Anita, and most recently made a trip to Dubai count, taking the G3 UAE 2000 Guineas by 1-3/4 lengths. Emblem Storm, who was third that day, went on to win the Al Bastakiya.
We’ve seen Fore Left show speed, but he hasn’t won at further than a mile, though, to be fair, the only time he’s gone further than that was in the American Pharoah. What does the pedigree suggest?
Sire Twirling Candy won G2s on turf, dirt, and synthetic going a 1-1/8th (Del Mar Derby, Strub, Californian) and lost the 2011 G1 Pacific Classic (a race his sire, Candy Ride, won when on dirt) by a mere head. Fore Left’s dam, Simply Sunny, is a ¾ sister to Gulfstream Park Derby winner, and Florida Derby runner-up Reveron, and a daughter of Unbridled’s Song, who won the 1995 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and, at three-years-old, the Florida Derby and Wood Memorial. Unbridled’s Song himself was a son of 1990’s Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic champion, Unbridled. You find another Classic champ in the pedigree, too, as Fore Left’s grandmother is by 1998’s winner, Awesome Again.
#7 JUNGLE RUNNER 50-1 ML
Owner: Calumet Farm
Trainer: Steve Asmussen
Jockey: Reylu Gutierrez
Breeder: Calumet Farm
He’s a son of the aforementioned Candy Ride and out of Minx, a daughter of Tapit. So, here, yet again, we get A.P. Indy’s name in the pedigree. Minx is a ½ sister to SW Colonel Rutledge and her dam, SP Rutledge Affair, is by Colonial Affair. Among Colonial Affair’s G1 victories is the 1993 Belmont Stakes.
#8 TIZ THE LAW 6-5 ML
Owner: Sackatoga Stable
Trainer: Barclay Tagg
Jockey: Manny Franco
Breeder: Twin Creeks Farm
It would certainly make quite the story should Tiz the Law win the Belmont Stakes for Sackatoga and Tagg, the team behind 2003’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness champ, Funny Cide. The colt looks formidable, indeed, coming into the race ¾ lengths shy of being undefeated in five lifetime starts. The lone loss came in a sloppy edition of the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs following his 4-length triumph in the G1 Champagne at Belmont. Vindication came in Tiz’s next start, winning the G3 Holy Bull by a sound three lengths, and then the G1 Florida Derby by 4-1/4. He’s certainly hard to knock, having overcome trouble, having won over the surface, having gone the distance, and having a champion pedigree.
Tiz the Law is a son of 2014’s Florida Derby winner, Constitution – a son of Tapit. Again, we find A.P. Indy. Another Classic champ in the mix is the only horse to have ever won it twice, Tiz the Law’s damsire, Tiznow. TTL’s dam, Tizfiz, is a G2W daughter of the Hall of Famer, and a full sister to G3W/G1P Fury Kapcori. 2nd dam, Gin Running, is by 1994’s Kentucky Derby victor, Go For Gin, who was 2nd in both the Preakness and Belmont Stakes.
It’s a blacktype family, which includes millionaire sprinter Favorite Tale, who was third in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, MG1W Moonshine Memories (2017 Del Mar Debutante, Chandelier), and Favorite Trick, who won the 1997 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, as well as Horse of the Year honors.
#9 DR POST 5-1 ML
Owner: St Elias Stable
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: Irad Ortiz, Jr.
Breeder: Cloyce C Clark
This son of Quality Road put in a gutty performance winning the Unbridled Stakes last out. He’s out of Mary Delaney, who won the G2 Madison back when it was on synthetic. She’s a daughter of Hennessy. He won the 1995 G1 Hopeful, but like his sire, Storm Cat, had to settle for 2nd in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
Extend the pedigree, and you find a couple of Triple Crown champions in the grid, with Dr Post’s maternal great-grandma being a daughter of Seattle Slew, and her mother a scion of Secretariat.
#10 PNEUMATIC 8-1 ML
Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC
Trainer: Steve Asmussen
Jockey: Ricardo Santana, Jr.
Breeder: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC
No shame in suffering your first career loss when stretching out, being asked to gun from the rail, and the eventual winner of the race is Maxfield…
This son of Uncle Mo is the sixth A.P. Indy representative, as he is out of Teardrop, a stakes-placed daughter of Tapit. She is a full sister to stakes winners War Echo, who won the G3 Silverbulletday, and Farrier, who won the Jebel Ali Stakes, and was 2nd in the G1 Jebel Hatta. Teardrop is also a ¾ sister to SW/MG3P Longview Drive, but even more intriguingly, to G1W/millionaire, Pyro.
Pyro won the 2009 Forego Stakes at Saratoga, and, at two, was 2nd in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Another Breeders’ Cup connection is found when looking at Pneumatic’s 2nd dam, Wild Vision, as she was a daughter of Wild Again, winner of the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Classic.
The female family is a prolific one for Winchell, and includes the likes of G1Ws Paddy O’ Prado, Cuvee, and Breeders’ Cup champions Tapizar (2012 Dirt Mile), and Untapable (2014 Distaff, Kentucky Oaks).
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