02/17/2016 11:58AM

Pedigree profile: Airoforce

Keeneland/Coady Photography
Airoforce has won the Bourbon Stakes on turf (above) and the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes on dirt.

By Colonel John – Chocolate Pop, by Cuvee
($350,000 purchase by East West Stable at 2015 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co. April sale of 2-year-olds in training)

Airoforce proved his versatility last year, winning two-turn graded stakes on turf, in the Bourbon at Keeneland, and dirt, in the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs. It remains to be seen what the colt’s best surface is.

However, he’s got plenty of dirt ability in his family, which should stand him in good stead on the Kentucky Derby trail, beginning with the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes on Saturday at Fair Grounds.

Airoforce is the first foal out of the winning Cuvee mare Chocolate Pop, who spent her brief career racing on dirt. She was twice stakes-placed at Aqueduct and, coincidentally, finished second to Justwhistledixie – the dam of early Kentucky Derby favorite Mohaymen – in the Love Affair Stakes. Chocolate Pop is out of the winning With Approval mare White Chocolate, the dam of six winners from six starters, including the stakes-placed Jacolatt. It is the extended family of the multiple Grade 1 winner Sea Cadet.

Airoforce’s versatility likely comes from sire Colonel John. The son of Tiznow was a Grade 1 winner on dirt, taking the Travers Stakes, and synthetic, winning the Santa Anita Derby. He also won the Wickerr Stakes on turf. In all, he won or placed in eight stakes over three seasons of racing, earning more than $1.7 million. From his first three crops of racing age, he is the sire of eight stakes winners, including another Kentucky Derby hopeful in Grade 2 Iroquois winner Cocked and Loaded.

Airoforce’s female family raises some questions about his distance ability and longevity. Chocolate Pop, who made her last start in February of her 3-year-old season, is by the sprinter Cuvee and notched her only win at one turn. White Chocolate won at a mile, but the average winning distance of her foals is 6.5 furlongs.

However, those limitations are perhaps again balanced out by Colonel John, who raced over three full seasons. His progeny have a healthy average winning distance of 7.15 furlongs.