Friday, April 26, 2013

Derby Hopeful: Mylute

Derby Hopefuls feature the horses I view as the best contenders leading up to the Kentucky Derby. Each horse spotlighted in a Derby Hopeful will join the 2013 PTG Derby Hopeful roster, found on the right side of the blog. Horses will be listed in an order that corresponds to how highly I think of them, with the horse I think most highly of ranking at the top. A horse featured in a Derby Hopeful may be taken off the roster if its performances after its article are published are not up to par or if that horse is taken off the Triple Crown trail, though those articles will remain on my blog.

Mylute, or at least his scheduled rider for the Kentucky Derby (GI), could mark a pivotal point in horse racing history. If the colt wins the Run for the Roses, Rosie Napravnik will become the first female rider of all-time to win the Derby, much like she became the first female jockey to capture the Kentucky Oaks (GI) last year.

Although the colt was defeated by 9 ¼ lengths in his debut – a five and one-half-furlong maiden special weight – behind the eventual graded stakes-winning Circle Unbroken, his second career start came in stakes company. Competing against six rivals in the Prairie Gold Juvenile Stakes, Mylute suffered a very poor trip but was able to rally to finish second, beaten by just a neck.

A return to the maiden special weight level resulted in Mylute’s first win. Traveling six furlongs over Arlington Park’s all-weather track, the dark gray colt found a spot just behind the leaders and ran very keenly, requiring restraint from his rider. Boxed in around the far turn, Mylute found room to run as the curve gave way to the homestretch. Striking to the lead authoritatively, the Tom Amoss trainee appeared to play around once he took the lead, but managed to win by a rather comfortable 2 ¼ lengths.

After a disappointing fifth-place effort in his graded stakes debut, the Arlington-Washington Futurity (GIII), Mylute shipped south to Louisiana, where he would spend his winter. Making his Louisiana debut at Delta Downs in the Jean Lafitte Stakes, Mylute faced a tough opponent in the graded stakes-winning Bern Identity, who would go on to outfinish Mylute despite the latter’s late gain.

The toughest test of Mylute’s juvenile campaign came in his following start, the Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes (GIII), in which he took on four horses that had won or would go on to win graded stakes, as well as a Breeders’ Cup winner. As usual, Mylute flashed very little early speed, racing at the rear of the field before beginning to rally down the backstretch, gaining ground on the adversaries ahead of him. Midway through the far turn, the colt had advanced to second, but the early beginning to his run and his wide trip around the curve of the bullring track put a dent in his momentum, leaving him to finish third behind future Santa Anita Derby (GI) victor

Heading to post one last time as a two-year-old, Mylute faced a small field in an allowance optional claiming event going a mile and seventy yards at the Fair Grounds near the end of December. Sent off as the second choice behind
General Election, a horse who was coming off a dominant maiden victory at Churchill Downs and would later go on to be a graded stakes-placed stakes winner, Mylute raced wide but showed his supremacy, effortlessly winning by 10 ¾ lengths.

Given approximately two months away from the races, Mylute made his juvenile debut in the Risen Star Stakes (GII). Rank as the horses entered the backstretch, the dark charcoal-colored colt raced along the rail just off the pacesetters. At the top of the stretch, Mylute appeared to be competitive, offering up a fight, but weakened in the late stages, finishing seventh. Despite a beautiful trip that gave him several chances to take the lead, the colt had lost, although he was less than four lengths behind the winner at the finish.

Perhaps it was the removal of blinkers, or maybe he had disposed of the rust he had collected during his time off, but Mylute redeemed himself next out in the Louisiana Derby (GII). Taking on a difficult competitor in the favorite, the graded stakes-winning
Revolutionary, Mylute broke fairly slowly, joining the horses near the back of the pack as the three-year-olds raced past the stands for the initial time. Traveling wide throughout, Mylute swung to the very far outside around the far turn, continuing to race down the middle of the stretch as the horses galloped down the lane. The colossal horse drew even with the top betting choice, appearing to briefly get ahead of Revolutionary, only to be outdueled by the Todd Pletcher trainee, losing by just a neck.

Mylute’s race record resembles a scatter plot, but the colt has finished in the top three in seven of his nine starts. He is a hard-trying athlete and although his pedigree is suspect for ten furlongs, a handful of distance influences can be traced in his bloodlines.

Mylute's pedigree

At first glance, Mylute's pedigree appears geared toward speed. His sire, Midnight Lute, was never victorious beyond seven furlongs, but he did miss winning at a mile and one-sixteenth by just a nose and was less than two lengths away from winning at nine furlongs in his only try at that distance. Trainer Bob Baffert – who conditioned the two-time Breeders’ Cup Sprint (GI) champion – always believed the horse would be a top ten-furlong runner, but setbacks always kept Midnight Lute from chasing lofty goals set for him. Considering Mylute is a member of Midnight Lute’s first crop, not many statistics exist regarding the champion sprinter’s ability to sire routers. However, he has produced Govenor Charlie – winner of the nine-furlong Sunland Derby (GIII) – and
Midnight Lucky – victress of the mile and one-sixteenth Sunland Park Oaks.

Midnight Lute’s ability to sire distance horses is enhanced by his sire, Real Quiet. A horse who missed winning the 1998 Triple Crown by a scant margin, Real Quiet produced the likes of Wonder Lady Anne L – a grade one winner at ten furlongs – and Bull Ranch – a stakes winner at eleven furlongs. Midnight Lute’s dam, Candytuft, is a daughter of Dehere – a son of Deputy Minister, a strong stamina influence. A Canadian Hall of Famer, Deputy Minister has appeared within the first three generations of numerous distance horses, including
Curlin, Paynter, and Rags to Riches. He was a tremendous broodmare sire, producing the dams of many talented distance horses, including the multiple group one-winning Kane Hekili and Sarava, winner of the 2002 Belmont.

Although his sire was a champion sprinter, the bottom side of Mylute’s pedigree provides more cause for worry regarding his long distance abilities. His dam, the black-type-winning Stage Stop, did not win beyond one mile and neither did her sire, top southern stallion Valid Expectations. Her 2009 colt, She Digs Me, was a graded stakes-winning sprinter that never even attempted to race beyond six furlongs.

The first stamina influence on the dam side of Mylute's pedigree is the sire of the colt's granddam: Strike the Gold. A Kentucky Derby winner and Belmont runner-up, Strike the Gold - a son of "Triple Crown runner-up" Alydar - was sent to Turkey after finding little success in the American breeding industry.

The sire of Mylute’s fourth dam is Hawaii, Horse of the Year in South Africa and a winner of numerous long-distance races, such as the United Nations Handicap and the Man O’ War Stakes. A significant note regarding Mylute’s pedigree is the presence of the great racehorse and sire, Ribot, as the sire of Mylute’s fifth dam. A horse who won up to 3,000 meters (about fifteen furlongs), Ribot won a wealth of prestigious distance races, including the Gran Premio del Jockey Club, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (twice), the Gran Premio di Milano, and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

Mylute's consistency and stamina may form a huge question mark, but his talent is undeniable. Despite the few and far between stamina influences in his ancestry, Mylute appears to draw strength from those that do exist. Furthermore, to his advantage is his experience, which many of the horses he will face in the Derby lack.

1 comment:

  1. I read your analysis and found it interesting with good info and insight. I've taken notice of the steady improvement in this horse. He reminds me of Caleb's Posse. I think the connections should look at the longer sprints up to a mile. I'd enter him in the Belmont/Saratoga Graded Sprint races. He may end up in BC Sprint or BC Dirt Mile. Love his finishing speed and big move around the final turn. JMHO