05/16/2014 3:56PM

Preakness Stakes 2014: Who is bred for the distance?

Four Footed Fotos
Illinois Derby winner Dynamic Impact is among the horses who may be best-bred to handle the Preakness distance.

While the Preakness Stakes may be the shortest race of the Triple Crown, the mile and three-sixteenths distance will still be longer than most of the field will regularly have to handle again.

Aside from the three horses returning from the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby, the Preakness shapes up to be the longest race this field will have faced to date. This leaves the remaining seven entries with something to prove.

Until those horses reveal their ability on the racetrack, one way to help indicate who might excel is to examine the average winning distances of the progeny from each entry’s sire and dam. While not a foolproof method to assess distance capabilities, comparing those numbers with others in the field can be helpful when forming an opinion on a longer race.

For example, if a stallion’s AWD is 7.75 furlongs, then the average distance of a race won by one of his offspring is between 7 1/2 furlongs and one mile. An average foal by that sire should be more likely to handle a route of ground than one by a sire with a lower AWD number.

Taking those figures into account, two newcomers to the Triple Crown races stand out from the rest of the field.

Federico Tesio Stakes winner Kid Cruz and Grade 3 Illinois Derby winner Dynamic Impact tied for the best combined score among the Preakness field, with neither horse ranking lower than third by sire and dam AWD. No other horse had both parents in the top half of the field.

Kid Cruz is a son of champion Lemon Drop Kid, who was second among the Preakness stallions with an AWD number of 8.07 furlongs. Lemon Drop Kid is one of two sires in the field with an average progeny winning distance over a mile, trailing only Giant’s Causeway, sire of Pablo Del Monte, whose foals to race post an AWD of 8.55 furlongs.

Perhaps the most notable runner from Lemon Drop Kid’s 11 crops of racing age is Richard’s Kid, a two-time winner of the 1 1/4-mile Grade 1 Pacific Classic, as well as the 1 1/2-mile Grade 3 Cougar II Handicap on two occasions and the Grade 1 Goodwood Stakes at 1 1/8 miles.

Kid Cruz’s dam is the unraced Tale of the Cat mare Layreebelle, whose AWD of 8.33 furlongs puts her second among the mares with Preakness runners in 2014. She has produced two winners from as many foals to race – the other is Grade 2 winner Spellbound, who has won at a mile and a mile and a sixteenth and is entered in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 3 Adoration Stakes at Santa Anita. Kid Cruz himself has won stakes at 1 1/8 miles and 1 1/16 miles, and won his maiden going a mile.

Dynamic Impact is a son of Tiznow, who ranked third on the Preakness sire list with an AWD of 7.59 furlongs. The 2000 Horse of the Year has sired 10 crops of racing age featuring Grade 1 winners at 1 1/4 miles or longer including Grade 1 Travers Stakes winner Colonel John, Belmont Stakes winner Da’ Tara, and Group 1 Dubai World Cup winner Well Armed.

The Grade 1-placed stakes-winning Smart Strike mare Featherbed led all Preakness mares with an average winning distance of 8.5 furlongs. Dynamic Impact is the mare’s only foal to race, which certainly limits the sample size compared with runners out of more experienced mares. However, Dynamic Impact has done his part to ensure a high AWD number for his dam, winning his maiden at a mile and winning the Illinois Derby at 1 1/8 miles with a 102 Beyer Speed Figure.

Of course, sometimes horses are simply better than the projected average product of their parents, and this race is a perfect example. Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome, who is the probable and deserving favorite for the Preakness, finished 10th and last among the field by combined sire and dam AWD rank.

California Chrome is out of the Grade 2-placed stakes winner Lucky Pulpit, who ranks last among the Preakness sires with an AWD of 6.46 furlongs. The 13-year-old son of Pulpit has sired five crops of racing age, and California Chrome was his first graded stakes winner. Lucky Pulpit has three other stakes winners, who have won a combined seven stakes at an average distance of 6.79 furlongs.

The Derby winner is the first foal out of the winning Not For Love mare Love the Chase, whose AWD number of 7.57 ranks fifth among the Preakness mares. While having only one foal to race may skew the numbers a bit as previously discussed, California Chrome has had a diverse career thus far with more than twice as many wins as any other horse in the field. His seven victories span from winning his maiden at 4 1/2 furlongs to winning the 10-furlong Kentucky Derby. 

In browsing the sires and dams of the Preakness Stakes, one figure that stands out is that the 10 dams are a perfect 23-for-23 combined in producing winners from foals to race.

The most prolific mare of the group is Free the Magic, dam of Ring Weekend, who has produced six winners from as many to race. Her AWD number of 6.79 furlongs puts her eighth among the Preakness mares.

Combined distance rankings of Preakness Stakes entrants

Horse Sire Rank Dam Rank Total Score Combined Rank
Kid Cruz 2 2 4 1
Dynamic Impact 3 1 4 1
Pablo Del Monte 1 10 11 2
Bayern 8 3 11 2
Social Inclusion 6 6 12 3
Ride On Curlin 4 9 13 4
Ring Weekend 5 8 13 4
General a Rod 9 4 13 4
Ria Antonia 7 7 14 5
California Chrome 10 5 15 6

Average progeny winning distance of sires represented in Preakness

Stallion Horse in Preakness Crops of
Racing Age
Avg. Racing Distance
Avg. Winning Distance
Giant's Causeway Pablo Del Monte 11 8.61 8.55
Lemon Drop Kid Kid Cruz 11 8.16 8.07
Tiznow Dynamic Impact 10 7.49 7.59
Curlin Ride On Curlin 3 7.54 7.58
Tapit Ring Weekend 7 7.36 7.37
Pioneerof the Nile Social Inclusion 2 7.03 7.11
Rockport Harbor Ria Antonia 5 6.87 6.74
Offlee Wild Bayern 6 6.64 6.6
Roman Ruler General a Rod 6 6.67 6.57
Lucky Pulpit California Chrome 5 6.43 6.45

Average progeny winning distance of dams represented in Preakness

Mare Foal in Preakness Starters Winners Avg. Winning Distance
Featherbed Dynamic Impact 1 1 8.5
Layreebelle Kid Cruz 2 2 8.33
Alittlebitearly Bayern 3 3 7.79
Dynamite Eyes General a Rod 2 2 7.67
Love the Chase California Chrome 1 1 7.57
Saint Bernadette Social Inclusion 2 2 7.21
Beer Baroness Ria Antonia 3 3 7.13
Free the Magic Ring Weekend 6 6 6.79
Magical Ride Ride On Curlin 2 2 5.83
One Hot Wish Pablo Del Monte 1 1 5.5