06/09/2016 11:06AM

Belmont Stakes: On pedigree, Brody's Cause has an edge

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Barbara D. Livingston
Based on the average winning distance of the offspring of his sire and dam, two-time Grade 1 winner Brody’s Cause appears to be the best equipped to handle the demanding distance of the Belmont Stakes.

The 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes will be the longest any of the 13 entries in the field will have ever raced in competition, and few, if any, will run at the distance again once they cross the finish on Saturday.

As previous renewals have shown, the quarter-mile difference between the Belmont and the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby can lead to a different horse entering the winner’s circle.

Without prior form to divine those most capable of getting the Belmont distance, pedigree becomes an especially important part of analyzing the field. A helpful way to quantify and compare stamina capability for a Belmont contender is by measuring the average winning distance of his sire and dam’s progeny.

Though not an airtight method for picking a winner at a given distance, AWD numbers can provide a snapshot of a sire or dam’s general ability to impart stamina to his or her offspring and help find longer-priced horses who are capable of filling out exotics based on their natural stamina.

Two of the last three horses to finish atop the Belmont Stakes combined AWD rankings finished in the money (2014 runner-up Commissioner and 2015 third-place finisher Keen Ice), and the outlier of the group (Incognito in 2013) finished fourth.

Taking into account the comparative AWDs from the sires and dams of this year’s Belmont Stakes entries, two-time Grade 1 winner Brody’s Cause appears to be the best equipped to handle the distance.

Brody’s Cause also topped this year’s Kentucky Derby field by combined AWD ranking and finished seventh behind the winner, Nyquist.

Owned by the Albaugh Family Stable and trained by Dale Romans, Brody’s Cause is the only Belmont entry whose sire and dam both ranked in the top four by progeny AWD. Brody’s Cause is a son of Giant’s Causeway, who leads all Belmont sires with an AWD of 8.49 furlongs. This means the 3,376 races won globally by a son or daughter of Giant’s Causeway were contested at an average distance of nearly 1 1/16 miles.

Giant’s Causeway is the only sire in the field with an AWD figure higher than a mile, besting second-place Street Cry, the sire of Trojan Nation, at 7.89 furlongs. He has sired classic winners in England, France, Canada, and Chile, but the American Triple Crown races have eluded him thus far.

Though Giant’s Causeway has never had an in-the-money finisher in the Belmont Stakes, he will have two chances this year, also sending out Destin, who finished fifth in the overall AWD rankings.

Brody’s Cause is out of the multiple Canadian stakes-placed Sahm mare Sweet Breanna, who is the dam of two winners from two foals to race and ranked fourth among Belmont broodmares by progeny AWD at 8.47 furlongs. Her first foal is the Midnight Lute filly Midnight Sweetie, who earned each of her three victories at a mile and 70 yards or longer and ran second in the two-turn Tiffany Lass Stakes at Fair Grounds.

Three horses share the second-best combined ranking in the Belmont field: Lani, Stradivari, and Trojan Nation.

The globetrotting colt Lani is of particular interest among that trio as a product of the Belmont field’s highest-ranking broodmare by AWD. Lani, a son of sixth-ranked Tapit, is out of the Japanese Group 1-winning Sunday Silence mare Heavenly Romance, whose six foals to race are all winners, posting an AWD figure of 9.73 furlongs – nearly 1 1/4 miles. Heavenly Romance outpaces her closest contemporaries in this year’s field by more than a furlong.

Sons and daughters of Heavenly Romance have won 24 combined races, with three coming at roughly 1 1/2 miles or longer. One of those three wins came from Amour Briller, a son of Smart Strike who won the Nagoya Grand Prix in Japan at 2,500 meters, or about 1 9/16 miles.

Though his winning performance in the Preakness Stakes and runner-up effort in the Kentucky Derby have certainly made him an exception to the figures, probable favorite Exaggerator ranks in the bottom half of the field by AWD rankings.

Exaggerator is a son of Curlin, who ranks third in this year’s Belmont class with an AWD figure of 7.60 furlongs. Curlin has already proven his mettle in the Triple Crown races, siring 2013 Belmont winner Palace Malice and classic-placed Ride On Curlin and Keen Ice.

The Preakness winner’s dam, the stakes-placed Vindication mare Dawn Raid, has had three winners from as many runners, with an AWD of 6.88 furlongs, placing her 10th of 11. It is worth noting that Palace Rumor, the dam of Palace Malice, ranked last among the 2013 Belmont broodmares by AWD, underlining the classic ability that sire Curlin has put into his offspring.