05/01/2013 5:05PM

Kentucky Oaks pedigree analysis: Who is bred for the distance?

Barbara D. Livingston
Kentucky Oaks morning-line favorite Dreaming of Julia is by pensioned sire A.P. Indy, known for his ability to pass on stamina to his progeny.

While there are a bevy of unknowns when handicapping the Kentucky Oaks, one of the most challenging quandaries is figuring out who will be able to handle the mile and an eighth distance.

Friday’s race will match or surpass the longest distance that the ten fillies comprising the Kentucky Oaks field have faced. Some have already raced at a mile and eighth, and for some, it might be the only time they’ll ever face nine furlongs. With little to no prior race form to use in forecasting which fillies will get the distance, one of the key measuring sticks bettors have is the horses’ pedigrees.

In analyzing the average racing and winning distances for the progeny of the ten sires represented in this year’s Kentucky Oaks, the clear advantage goes to Dreaming of Julia. Runners by her sire, A.P. Indy, boast an average racing distance of 8.21 furlongs and an average winning distance of 8.23 furlongs.

This means that the average distance of a race run by an A.P. Indy offspring is slightly over a mile, as is the average distance of a race that his foals win. A.P. Indy is the only sire in the field whose runners registered eight furlongs or longer in either category.

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A.P. Indy’s résumé in the Oaks is already well-established, having sired 2007 winner Rags to Riches, as well as Secret Status in 2000. The pensioned stallion himself was an accomplished distance horse, winning the 1992 Belmont Stakes at 1 1/2 miles and the 1 1/4-mile Breeders’ Cup Classic during his Horse of the Year campaign.

To further enhance her status as the Oaks morning-line favorite, Dreaming of Julia has already proven herself more than capable at Friday’s distance, winning the 1 1/8-mile Gulfstream Park Oaks by an eye-popping 21 3/4 lengths.

The only other Oaks stallion whose runners produced average racing and winning distances of seven furlongs or more is Street Sense, sire of Unlimited Budget. The average progeny racing distance is 7.15 furlongs for the son of Street Cry, who was moved to Darley’s Japanese stallion operation in 2012, while his foals win races at an average distance of 7.26 furlongs.

Street Sense also proved himself adept at the classic distance during his racing career, winning the 2007 Kentucky Derby and Travers Stakes, both at a mile and a quarter.

One factor to consider when analyzing these figures is the sample size available for each sire. While A.P. Indy was by far the best distance performer among the Oaks sires, he is also represented by 18 crops of racing age, ten more than the next most experienced stallion, meaning his foals have had more opportunities to race at two-turn distances than a sire whose first crop is represented in the Oaks field.

Meanwhile, given that the crops of young sires such as First Defence, Majestic Warrior, Midnight Lute, and Spring at Last are still developing from the 2-year-old sprint ranks into eventual handicap division performers, figures for their progeny may skew shorter now than in the future.

Stallion Oaks starter Crops of
racing age
Avg. racing distance Avg. winning
A.P. Indy Dreaming of Julia 18 8.21 8.23
Street Sense Unlimited Budget 3 7.15 7.26
First Defence Close Hatches 2 6.95 6.95
Macho Uno Silsita 7 7.04 6.9
Friends Lake Rose to Gold 6 6.92 6.9
Pure Prize Pure Fun 8 6.95 6.88
Majestic Warrior Princess of Sylmar 2 6.73 6.77
Midnight Lute Midnight Lucky 2 6.88 6.59
Spring at Last Seaneen Girl 2 6.24 6.4
Henny Hughes Beholder 4 6.4 6.27

* all distances in furlongs