Medina Spirit is this year’s new Kentucky Derby Champion, and many are surprised a $1,000 horse can win on the grandest stage. After examining Medina Spirit’s pedigree, I will have to say Bob Baffert strikes again. This article will take a closer look at how a Kentucky Derby Champion is made.
Horse lineage can be traced longer than a century, but for brevity and name recognition we will focus on the previous four generations. Additionally, there are theories that the strongest genetic influence can be seen in four generations back. A quick glance and you can already see the great Seattle Slew.
Medina Spirit’s sire line is especially exceptional. Previously, we identified Seattle Slew four generations back, but he is not the only interesting horse to be found. Terlingua and Weekend Surprise are both offspring from Secretariat, and Terlingua was the dam of the “leading and world-wide influential sire Storm Cat” (link). Weekend Surprise was the 1992 Broodmare of the Year, and is the dam of A.P. Indy (link) and is considered a breed-shaping sire after siring multiple American classic winners. Having Seattle Slew (link) and Secretariat (link) inbred into the line gives Medina Spirit’s sire lineage a strong genetic history.
Medina Spirit also has an impressive dam line. Roberto was the Champion two-year old colt in Ireland, and the Champion three-year old colt in Ireland and England the following year (link). Gone West was sold for $1.9 million as a yearling in 1985, and became a Champion Broodmare Sire in England (link). Fappiano is considered a breed-shaping sire that holds influence over generations, and was syndicated at a reported $300,000 a share (link). Holy Bull is a 2001 Hall of Fame inductee and ranked #64 in Blood-Hose magazines top 100 US Racehorses (link). Additionally, Holy Bull sired 48 stakes winners including Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo (link).
In conclusion, it would seem at first glance that it is suprising a $1,000 horse can win the Kentucky Derby. However, when examining the lineage of Medina Spirit, it seems that Bob did what Bob does. He finds winners, and a horse with this geneteic heritage is worth a small gamble.