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Jan 18, 2013

Mr. Prospector - The key to finding the Kentucky Derby winner

By: By Jeff Frank, The Sports Analyst


Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - A horse's sire is known to showcase the stud's speed while stamina is usually passed down from the horse's dam. Almost 50 percent of the last 11 Kentucky Derby winners have this profile, one that could help horseplayers in picking the 2013 winner.

Some experts may argue that a 3-year-old sired by a horse built for speed is at a disadvantage when it comes to winning the Derby. However, that is not the case since no less than five sprinters and/or milers have sired Kentucky Derby winners over the past 11 years.

What is interesting to note is that three of the five are descendants of Mr. Prospector. War Emblem (2002), Funny Cide (2003) and Smarty Jones (2004) were sired by Our Emblem, Distorted Humor and Elusive Quality, respectively - all sons or grandsons of Mr. Prospector.

Three other Run for the Roses victors since 2002 - Street Sense (2007), Mine That Bird (2009) and I'll Have Another (2012) - also were sired by colts from the Mr. Prospector line. That means more than half of the last 11 Kentucky Derby winners have Mr. Prospector's blood in their veins.

Furthermore, two years before War Emblem crossed the wire first in 2002, Mr. Prospector's son, Fusaichi Pegasus, roared home in front giving the all-timer his first (and only) Derby winner after four other of his descendants had won between 1990 and 1998.

That makes 11 Kentucky Derby winners for Mr. Prospector since 1990. To put that in perspective, only one horse, the legendary Northern Dancer, has three winners over that time span - Sea Hero (1993 by Polish Navy), Charismatic (1999 by Summer Squall) and Big Brown (2008 by Boundary). Polish Navy and Boundary were sons of Danzig while Summer Squall was sired by Storm Bird.

Taking it a step further, progeny of Mr. Prospector have won nine of the last 13 runnings of both the Preakness and Belmont Stakes while descendants of Northern Dancer represent just four total victories.

Northern Dancer's top grandson, Storm Cat, has sired many stakes winners, including Cat Thief (BC Classic), Tabasco Cat (Preakness and Belmont), Storm Flag Flying (BC Juvenile Fillies), Sardula (Kentucky Oaks), but never a Kentucky Derby winner. He came close in 2006 when Bluegrass Cat finished second to Barbaro.

Furthermore, none of his descendants have won the Derby and there are many top horses in this year's crop with Storm Cat in the pedigree, namely Goldencents, Shanghai Bobby, Uncaptured, Frac Daddy and Bradester. Don't forget this fact come May 4.

One superstar sire conspicuously absent from the list of Kentucky Derby winners is Seattle Slew. He sired Swale to win the 1984 rendition in his second season at stud but no son or grandson of the great race horse has ever sired a Derby champion.

As is the case with Storm Cat, there are a few top 3-year-olds with Seattle Slew in their pedigree such as Power Broker, He's Had Enough, Dewey Square, Tesseron and Declan's Warrior.

One other note to keep in mind is how well young sires have done sending their horses into the winner's circle at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May. Seven of the last 12 Derby winners have come from the first or second crop of sires, including last year when Flower Alley, in his second season in the breeding shed, gave us I'll Have Another.

Given all this data, hitting big in the 2013 Kentucky Derby just might be as easy as finding a young sire with Mr. Prospector bloodlines.

THE TOP TWO CANDIDATES

Palace Malice and Mylute fit the bill as 3-year-olds from first-year sires that come from the Mr. Prospector line.

Palace Malice is a son of Curlin, the 2007 Preakness and Breeders' Cup Classic winner, out of a Royal Anthem mare. Based on his pedigree, if Palace Malice fails to progress on dirt, the sky is the limit once he hits the turf.

The Todd Pletcher-trained colt has raced just twice and both in 2012, a 5- furlong event on July 5 followed by a 6 1/2-furlong race on Aug. 4. The $200,000 2-year-old purchase ran a game second in the former and won the latter by 3 1/2-lengths in 1:16 2/5.

Palace Malice is gearing up for his 2013 debut. He's already worked six times since Dec. 10, including three 5-furlong breezes. Of all the Pletcher 3-year- olds, this descendant of Mr. Prospector has the best pedigree to last the 10- furlongs at Churchill Downs.

Mylute is by two-time Breeders' Cup Sprint champion Midnight Lute whose sire Real Quiet won the 1998 Kentucky Derby.

His dam side is not particularly noteworthy except his second dam, Winning Move, is by 1991 Derby winner, Strike the Gold. Additionally, if it rains on Derby day, Mylute should like it wet since Valid Appeal is his dam's grandsire.

Mylute's running style is extremely similar to his sire. The gray colt loves coming from well off the pace as he did in the Delta Downs Jackpot, a race he made a huge middle move approaching the far turn (going from last to second) but predictably flattened out through the stretch.

His most recent start was a sharp 10 3/4-length victory in an allowance race at Fair Grounds. Trainer Thomas Amoss will keep him in Louisiana over the winter.

THE JEFF FRANK "DIRTY DOZEN"

1) Golden Soul - Training exceptionally well for next start

2) Avie's Quality - Probable for the Lecomte

3) Mountain Eagle - Hasn't hit work tab in 2013

4) Normandy Invasion - Risen Star (Feb. 23) is next

5) Violence - Will make 2013 debut in February

6) Declan's Warrior - Has breezed three times since Dec. 27

7) Uncaptured - Still not physically fit to begin training

8) Flashback - Returned to the work tab on Jan. 7

9) Overanalyze - Might take the New York route to Kentucky

10) Frac Daddy - Holy Bull (Jan. 26) is next

11) Goldencents - Will run next in San Felipe on March 9

12) Palace Malice - Working feverishly at Palm Meadows



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