05/02/2016 4:29PM

Sires of the 2016 Kentucky Derby: Bernardini

Adam Coglianese/NYRA

Bernardini won one of the most tragic runnings of the Preakness ever, but he has confirmed that triumph – and year-end champion 3-year-old male title – by becoming a top sire and source of high-quality runners who can get two turns, a number of which have been successful at the 10-furlong distance of the Kentucky Derby.

In this year’s Derby, Bernardini, by A.P. Indy, will be represented by Shadwell Farm’s homebred Shagaf, who won his first three starts, including the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes, before finishing fifth in the Wood Memorial Stakes.

“When I think of Bernardini,” said Darley sales manager Darren Fox, “I think of two turns and dirt. That really sums up Bernardini in a phrase.”

:: Sires of the 2016 Kentucky Derby | Download the Derby Sire Guide

His ability to sire horses to get a distance matches his strength on the track. Bred and raced by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum’s Darley, Bernardini was unraced at 2 but came to hand quickly at 3. He made his debut at Gulfstream Park in January and raced eight times that year through November. After losing his debut, he won his second start, on March 4, and then signaled how talented he was by winning the April 29 Grade 3 Withers Stakes with a Beyer of 104, a 14-point jump from his maiden win. He ran triple-digit Beyers every start thereafter.

In the Preakness, his fourth start, Bernardini won by more than five lengths with a 113 Beyer after Derby winner Barbaro suffered a catastrophic injury shortly after leaving the gate.

In his next four starts, he recorded Beyer Figures of 114, 116, 117, and 115. He took the Jim Dandy, Travers, and Jockey Club Gold Cup, and in his last start he finished second by a length to Invasor in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Retired to Darley in Lexington, Ky., for the 2007 breeding season for a fee of $100,000, he has been a commercially popular sire from the start, his yearlings averaging $193,043 over the past eight years. He stands the 2016 breeding season for $100,000.

Bernardini’s first North American crop, foals of 2008, yielded nine stakes winners, including Grade 1 winners Stay Thirsty, To Honor and Serve, and A Z Warrior, plus Italian Group 1 winner Biondetti.

Stay Thirsty signaled Bernardini’s ability to sire horses that stayed a route of ground when at 3 he won the 1 1/4-mile Travers after being second in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes. To Honor and Serve won the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby at 1 1/8 miles.

The following year, Alpha, another son of Bernardini, earned a dead-heat victory in the Travers.

“High-class runners around two turns and on dirt are attributes that stand out for me about Bernardini,” Fox said. “He is having a great 2016, with six graded stakes winners already. Only Tapit has more, with seven.

“Bernardini has 14 sons at stud, which is quite remarkable for a 13-year-old stallion. This illustrates the quality of runners he is getting.”

Bernardini’s runners include Grade 1 Test winner Cavorting; Grade 1 Humana Distaff winner Dame Dorothy; Grade 1 Champagne Stakes winner Greenpointcrusader; Grade 1 Spinaway winner Rachel’s Valentina; and Grade 1 Chandelier Stakes winner Angela Renee.

Bernardini has shuttled frequently to Australia, and in that hemisphere he has sired a bevy of stakes winners, including Ruud Awakening, champion juvenile colt in New Zealand, and the group stakes winners Boban, Go Indy Go, Zanbagh, Toydini, and Peace Force.

Though he did not race at 2 himself, Bernardini is bred for precociousness, as his dam, Cara Rafaela, won the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet at 2 and was second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. He has passed along that ability as a sire.

“Since 2010, no stallion has had more Grade 1-winning 2-year-olds than Bernardini, with five,” said Fox, noting that only leading sire Danzig has sired more Grade 1-winning juveniles in his first six crops.

Fox said that Bernardini has crossed well with mares from the Mr. Prospector and Northern Dancer lines especially well.

“He’s pretty versatile,” Fox said. “In broader terms, Northern Dancer and Mr. Prospector line mares do very well with him. Of course, that’s a large segment of the broodmare population, but he tends to work well with those lines.”

From the Northern Dancer line, Bernardini has sired two Grade 1 winners out of the same Deputy Minister mare, and one each from a Storm Bird mare, Nijinsky II mare, Medaglia d’Oro mare, and Lyphard mare.

From the Mr. Prospector line, he has two Grade 1 winners out of Carson City mares and one Grade 1 winner each from Woodman and Cryptoclearance mares.