11/07/2007 12:00AM

Derby distance a stretch for War Pass

EmailLAS VEGAS - As soon as he crossed the finish line at Monmouth Park in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, War Pass became the favorite for next year's Kentucky Derby. When Street Sense won the Juvenile last year by 10 lengths at Churchill Downs, he, too, was installed as the Derby favorite, but the difference is Street Sense not only won the race over the same course as the Derby, he was bred to excel at 1 1/4 miles.

There's no denying War Pass is the best 2-year-old colt and deserves an Eclipse, but like with so many juvenile champions, there is a real question about his ability to be effective at the Derby distance because of his sire, Cherokee Run.

In addition to War Pass, below is a brief pedigree analysis of some of this year's 2-year-olds and their likelihood of getting 1 1/4 miles:

War Pass (Cherokee Run): While Cherokee Run won the Dwyer Stakes at nine furlongs and ran a very courageous second to Prairie Bayou in the 1993 Preakness, he was best as a sprinter-miler, winning the Breeders' Cup Sprint and Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at 4, resulting in an Eclipse as champion sprinter. He also was second in the Metropolitan Handicap, Tom Fool Stakes, and A Phenomenon Handicap, and third in the Vosburgh Stakes and Carter and Westchester handicaps. Cherokee Run won the Gulfstream Park Sprint Handicap at 5 and was retired shortly afterward. Some of his offspring have won at middle distances (Zanjero, Chelokee, During, Kafwain, Sir Cherokee), but the majority are blessed with high speed, such as Indian Flare, Chilukki, Yonaguska, and Dream Run. War Pass gets high marks for class as his female family descends from the blue hen Bourtai. Belmont Stakes winner Coastal and champion Slew o' Gold also came from that female family, and War Pass is a half-brother to Spinaway Stakes winner Oath and stakes-placed Vision of Beauty. High quality often enables milers to outrun their pedigrees, but War Pass is greatly influenced by his sire and damsire, Cherokee Run and Mr. Prospector, two powerful sources of speed.

Pyro (Pulpit): A closing second to War Pass in both the BC Juvenile and Champagne Stakes, Pyro would appear to be the type of animal who catches up to his more precocious contemporaries at age 3. Pulpit finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby while suffering a career-ending injury in the race, and while his runners have been successful at middle distances on dirt and turf, they usually need a boost from their damsire if they are to be as effective at 1 1/4 miles. Wild Again, who won the first Breeders' Cup Classic, gives some stamina to Pyro's pedigree, but his female family is heavily laced with speed (Pass the Tab, Whitesburg, and Reverse).

Kodiak Kowboy (Posse): All runners by this year's leading freshman sire Posse are bred to be best at 2 and should go on to become sprinter-milers at 3. Kodiak Kowboy is out of a mare by Travers Stakes winner Coronado's Quest, but Coronado's Quest is more a source of speed than stamina in a pedigree.

Tale of Ekati (Tale of the Cat): While his best son, Lion Heart, finished second in the Kentucky Derby behind Smarty Jones, Tale of the Cat is primarily a speed influence, and his runners' brilliance diminishes with every furlong over one mile. Once again, the extreme high quality of his female family gives Tale of Ekati a boost concerning stamina, and natural development at 3 could help him get middle distances. Out of a mare by stamina-rich Sunday Silence, his second dam is Maplejinsky (Nijinsky II), and notable runners from this family include BC Distaff winner Pleasant Home and Pine Island.

Majestic Warrior (A.P. Indy): Bred to be even better at 3 at classic distances than he was this year, when he won the Hopeful Stakes. In addition to being by Belmont Stakes and BC Classic winner A.P. Indy (sire of Belmont Stakes winner Rags to Riches), his first three damsires are solid stamina influences (Seeking the Gold, Dixieland Band, and Secretriat).

Dixie Chatter (Dixie Union): The Norfolk Stakes winner was among my picks to win the BC Juvenile but was a late scratch due to a fever. While I really liked him as a 2-year-old, I'm not confident about his ability to be at his best at 1 1/4 miles. Dixie Union was able to stretch his speed to win the Haskell Invitational Handicap at nine furlongs, but is not a source of stamina. Dixie Chatter's damsire, Deputy Minister, was a champion at 2, and while he can help in the stamina department, his second damsire is sprinter Phone Trick.

Etched (Forestry): He was simply brilliant winning a maiden race and the Nashua Stakes, and his sire is known for flashy and precocious runners who are best as milers, such as Discreet Cat. His dam is BC Distaff winner Unbridled Elaine, who is by speed influence Unbridled's Song. Highly suspect at 1 1/4 miles.

Court Vision (Gulch): Winner of the Iroquois Stakes, Court Vision is bred to succeed at longer distances. While Gulch was a champion sprinter-miler, he has sired so many classic winners around the world, he is a solid stamina influence. His best runners are Kentucky Derby and Belmont winner Thunder Gulch, English champion Nayef, Japanese Group 1 winner Eagle Cafe, and U.S. stakes winners The Cliff's Edge, Wallenda, Gulch Approval, and Mariensky. Adding appeal is Court Vision's female family. His dam is a full sister to Preakness winner Summer Squall and is also a half-sister to A.P. Indy. Should be a major player at 3.