Only 8 days to Derby day! On Saturday, May 5, the best three year olds in the country—and one from Europe (sort of)—will compete in the run for the roses and in the Kentucky Oaks. Have you picked out your Derby colt and your Oaks filly? Better make your choices. Time’s getting short.
A tall order, you say? With so many promising contenders, how do you choose? Well, whether you’re a calculating handicapper or enjoy cheering on your own personal favorite, may I suggest the Old Friends Angle?
One way to play the Old Friends Angle is to back a horse with human connections—owner, breeder, trainer, jockey, exercise rider, groom, foaling staff—who supports Old Friends. That’s a great angle. In our earliest days it definitely swayed our feelings, but these days the wonderful thing is that so many racing participants support Old Friends and other Thoroughbred aftercare providers that I’m grateful to say this version of the angle would cover just about every runner in both races. From this perspective, back ’em all.
There’s another Old Friends Angle. One that in our earliest years didn’t often figure in the Derby and Oaks, but this angle has grown, and continues to become more exciting with each passing year. It’s the horse angle. If you walked around the farm and asked the horses who they’re rooting for, who would they pick? Some stranger, or their own grandkid or great-grandkid?
So, if you haven’t got your Derby colt or Oaks filly yet, consider these horses who have very special connections to Old Friends:
2018 Kentucky Derby, Saturday, May 5, 6:50 pm Eastern Time
Audible is Gulch’s great-grandson. (Into Mischief – Blue Devil Bel by Gilded Time). Blue Devil Bel’s dam Fahamore is by Gulch. Audible won the Florida Derby (G1) and Holy Bull Stakes (G2), both important steps along the Kentucky Derby trail.
Gulch (1984-2016) was the 1988 Eclipse Sprint Champion, a champion sire, and a great gentleman. Intelligent, dignified, tough but kind, he will always be in a class by himself. Gulch sired 1995 Kentucky Derby winner Thunder Gulch, many Derby contenders, and is ancestor to more top athletes than any other Old Friends retiree. We were truly privileged to care for the great Gulch in retirement.
Combatant is Ogygian’s great-great-grandson. (Scat Daddy – Border Dispute by Boundary). Ogygian’s daughter Myth was dam of international juvenile champion Johannesburg, who sired Scat Daddy. Combatant has yet to win a stakes race, but he finished second in the G3 Southwest Stakes and contended strongly in the Rebel Stakes and Arkansas Derby.
Flameaway is also by Scat Daddy and so also Ogygian’s great-great-grandson. (Scat Daddy – Vulcan Rose by Fusaichi Pegasus). A graded stakes winner at 2 and 3, he finished second in the Blue Grass Stakes.
Hofburg is Touch Gold’s grandson. (Tapit – Soothing Touch by Touch Gold). Hofburg finished second to Audible in this year’s Florida Derby (G1).
Touch Gold, foaled in 1994, lives at our Georgetown Farm. Winner of the 1997 Belmont Stakes and the horse who denied the Triple Crown to 1997 Derby and Preakness winner Silver Charm, Touch Gold is fierce, smart, muscular and totally impressive. Come visit and admire him this summer!
Justify, the overwhelming favorite, is another son of Scat Daddy and so another great-great-grandson of Ogygian. (Scat Daddy – Stage Magic by Ghost Zapper). Trained by Bob Baffert, Justify won the Santa Anita Derby so impressively that he’s set heads spinning.
Mendelssohn, yet another Scat Daddy, is Ogygian’s great-great-grandson. Based in Ireland, Mendelssohn was foaled in Kentucky. (Scat Daddy – Leslie’s Lady by Tricky Creek). He won last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, and did you see his UAE Derby? Wow!
Ogygian (1983-2015) was a great athlete, important broodmare sire, and a patriarch of Old Friends. He retired to us in 2005 and his strong-willed, gracious presence remained a foundation of our survival and success for a decade. Through his grandson Street Boss he is the great-grandsire of 2016 Kentucky Oaks winner Cathryn Sophia. His grandson Johannesburg’s son Scat Daddy, though prematurely deceased at 11, was one of the best sires of his generation. He did “O” proud.
Promises Fulfilled is Marquetry’s grandson. (Shackleford – Marquee Delivery by Marquetry). He won this year’s Fountain of Youth Stakes (G1). A third place finish in last fall’s Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) after leading most of the way suggests he likes the Churchill Downs track.
Marquetry (1987-2013), winner of the G1 1991 Hollywood Gold Cup and 1992 Eddie Read Handicap and other graded stakes, was one of the most distinctive retirees we ever had. A rich red horse with white markings decorating his legs, he was officially a Paint as well as a Thoroughbred, but it was his combination of spirited dignity and affectionate kindness that his friends will always remember. He’s emerged as an important broodmare sire as well. Marquetry was absolutely one of a kind.
Vino Rosso is Touch Gold’s great-grandson. (Curlin – Mythical Bride by Street Cry) Mythical Bride’s dam, Flaming Heart, is by Touch Gold. Vino Rosso made an exciting run to win the Wood Memorial last month. Class will tell, and Vino Rosso’s got class.
2018 Kentucky Oaks, Friday, May 4, 6:12 pm Eastern Time
After this impressive Derby procession of Old Friends descendants, it seems disappointing that only one descendant will be vying for this year’s Oaks—until you consider whose descendant she is.
Monomoy Girl, a favorite after her win in the Ashland Stakes (G1), is a great-granddaughter of Williamstown. (Tapizar – Drumette by Henny Hughes). Williamstown sired her second dam (maternal grandmother), Endless Parade.
Williamstown (1990-2015), one of Seattle Slew’s best sons and one of Old Friends’ most beautiful and impressive retirees, shone on the racetrack but seemed fated never to be represented by any championship progeny—until now?
Doesn’t this make your Oaks pick easy?