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Will The Distance Affect Kentucky Derby Runners?
Which Horses Will Adapt Best To Kentucky Derby Length
By Brent Sedo
As they develop from their two-year-old to three-year-old season, most horses entered in the Kentucky Derby gradually begin to run longer distances. While some have run as far as 1 1/16 miles in their first year of racing, many don't try that distance until they get into their sophomore season.
As their final tune-up before the Derby, most will then be asked to go up to 1 1/8 miles. But for all of them, they will try the "American Classic" distance of 1 1/4 miles for the very first time on the first Saturday in May. And many will find it to be farther than they want to run.
In determining which horses are most likely to "stay the course", it's important to look at past race results to see which horses were still running at the end, and which were starting to fall back. It's also important to look at the pedigree and breeding of the horses to determine which have this distance in their bloodlines. Here's a look at some Derby contenders whose pedigree suggests they are most likely to handle the Derby distance.
Kentucky Derby Bred For Distance
McCraken - He's a horse that is is loaded with distance pedigree, as his sire and grandsire on his paternal side both won the 1 1/4 mile Breeders' Cup Classic. On his maternal side, his grandsire ran second in the BC Classic and the Travers Stakes, both 1 1/4 mile races.
Hence - While his sire was mostly known as a very successful sprinter, his paternal grandsire was a winner at 1 1/8 miles. He has tons of distance pedigree on his mother's side, though. His maternal grandsire won both the 1 1/2 mile Belmont Stakes and BC Classic, his sire was Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, and his sire was Triple Crown winner Secretariat.
Irap - His sire is two-time BC Classic winner Tiznow, and his mare was a stakes winner at 1 1/16 miles.
J Boys Echo - His sire closed his career by winning three straight, two of those at 1 1/4 miles and the other at 1 1/8. His maternal grandsire was second in both the Kentucky Derby and Super Derby at 1 1/4 miles.
Thunder Snow - Unlike the US-based horses, he's coming in from a win in Dubai's UAE Derby, which measures 1900 metres, or just 100 metres less than 1 1/4 miles.
Patch - From a sire that won the Belmont Stakes, and a mare that won at one mile, his maternal grandsire, like Hence, was AP Indy, who won both the BC Classic and Belmont. He's actually one horse in the field who may need more than 1 1/4 miles to win.
Classic Empire - His sire ran second in the Kentucky Derby, while his grandsire was also second in the Derby and won the Belmont Stakes, and his great-grandsire won both the Kentucky Derby and the BC Classic.
Always Dreaming - His sire was second in both the Kentucky Derby and the 1 3/16 miles Preakness Stakes.
Irish War Cry - He's from a sire that won the BC Classic and Preakness Stakes, finished second in the Belmont and third in the Kentucky Derby.
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