By Joseph Wulffe (@Whtnbourbonguy on Twitter)
The list of achievements by Godolphin Racing is quite long and very distinguished, yet the Kentucky Derby remains conspicuously absent. Some of Godolphin’s past Derby entrants include Alpha in 2012, Frosted in 2015 and Thunder Snow in last year’s Derby; however, the best this prestigious operation has ever finished is 4th with Frosted. This year, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is hoping that those iconic royal blue silks representing his powerhouse stable will finally make their way into the winner’s circle aboard Enticed.
This regally bred colt is trained by Kiaran McLaughlin. Kiaran has enjoyed some past success with Derby runners as Closing Argument finished 2nd in the 2005 edition of the race, while more recently he trained 4th place finishers Frosted (2015) and Mohaymen (2016). Yet, just as it has been for Godolphin, a trip to the winner’s circle at Churchill and its accompanying garland of roses have so far proven elusive.
In order to have a better understanding of how Enticed will fare on May 5th, a more in-depth look into this colt’s pedigree and past performances is needed.
Enticed’s sire is the Darley stallion, Medaglia d’Oro, who thus far has proven to be very impressive having sired seven Grade 1 winners, on both turf and dirt, in 2017. Among some of his more notable progeny are the multiple Grade 1 winning mares Rachel Alexandra and Songbird, along with 2017 Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Talismanic and fellow 2018 Kentucky Derby contender Bolt d’Oro.
A winner at the age of three in the 10 furlong Travers Stakes (G1), a winner at the age of four in the 9 furlong Whitney Handicap (G1), and with several runner-up finishes including the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Dubai World Cup, Medaglia d’Oro excelled at the classic distances.
Moreover, Enticed’s dam, It’s Tricky, and damsire, Mineshaft, were also accomplished routers as It’s Tricky won several graded stakes races from 7-9 furlongs throughout her career, while Mineshaft captured the Suburban Handicap (G1) and Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1), both at 1 ¼ miles, back in 2003. Upon initial review, Enticed appears to have the ideal pedigree to be able to succeed at the classic 10 furlong distance of the Kentucky Derby; however, digging deeper into his bloodlines reveals some interesting results.
One helpful tool when analyzing a horse’s bloodlines is dosage, which is a mathematical analysis of the strengths in a Thoroughbred’s pedigree based upon the location of certain outstanding sires in its family. From dosage, both Dosage Profiles (DP) and Dosage Indices (DI) can be derived, which can often give a good indication as to which distances a horse may be best suited.
Dosage is dependent upon the amount of inherited influence from the chefs-de-race (French for chefs of racing or better translated as masters of the breed) in the horse’s pedigree. A Dosage Profile consists of five numbers each related to one of the categories of racing styles that a chef can pass on; these categories range from Brilliant (chefs that possessed great speed and excelled at sprint racing), to Classic (chefs that dominated at distances ranging from 9 to 12 furlongs), to Professional (chefs that possessed incredible stamina and often won at distances greater than a mile and a half or longer).
Meanwhile, a Dosage Index is a ratio of the speed points to the stamina points found in a Dosage Profile. Horses that have higher Dosage Index values tend to possess more speed while those with lower values often have more stamina. The DP value for Enticed’s sires going back four generations reads 7-8-9-2-0 while his DI is 3.00 (which is significant as a horse with a DI value above 4.00 has rarely ever won the Kentucky Derby). These numbers for Enticed are actually fairly good and indicate that he has inherited a good deal of stamina, which is ideal for a race like the Derby.
However, despite the accomplishments of his dam and damsire at route distances, the profile values for the mares in Enticed’s pedigree (13-2-3-3-10) are not very good at all. The numbers are very heavily slanted towards inherited speed and this combination of moderate stamina and incredible speed does not usually lead to success in the Derby. However, there may be some cause for optimism when looking at this colt’s past performances dating back to the end of last year.
A first-time out maiden winner back in September of 2017 over a muddy six furlongs at Saratoga, Enticed would race next in the one mile Champagne Stakes (G1) at Belmont where he finished a game 3rd to current Derby rivals Firenze Fire and Good Magic. Yet it was his performance in the 1 1/16 mile Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs that served notice to the rest of his two-year old peers. For much of the race, jockey Junior Alvarado kept Enticed off the quick pace set by rival Promises Fulfilled. However, as the field made its way through the final turn, Alvarado moved Enticed up to challenge the leaders before he unleashed his kick to propel himself down the stretch, narrowly edging out Tiz Mischief to win by a head.
Following that race, Enticed would make his three-year old debut in the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream with Joel Rosario aboard, where he finished a well-beaten fourth, fourteen lengths behind the winner, Audible (another Derby rival).
Fortunately, Enticed was able to revisit his winning ways in March in the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct when Alvarado returned in the irons and guided Enticed to a 2 ¾ length victory and a career best Bris speed rating of 104. At this point, Enticed had established himself as a runner that would rate just off the pace throughout much of the race, essentially stalking the leaders, before trying to strike for the lead either in the race’s final turn or turning for home.
Enticed’s most recent performance came earlier this month in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. Breaking sharply from the gate, Alvarado initially considered challenging the speed horse Old Time Revival for the lead, but after Enticed went a little wide going into the first turn, Alvarado was content to take Enticed back and work out a stalking trip. As the field entered the final turn, Old Time Revival began to tire and Enticed moved up to challenge for the lead. However, when Enticed made his move, he was not alone; Vino Rosso, who had been sitting further back in the field, also moved up to contest the lead. The two rivals came into the stretch side by side, and it was at this point that some significant bumping occurred. Ultimately, Alvarado could not get Enticed into the clear and put away Vino Rosso, who ended up winning by a margin of 3 lengths (and additionally survived a stewards’ inquiry).
Enticed has shown that he can effectively compete at the 1 1/8 mile distance, yet his biggest test (racing at 1 ¼ mile) looms.
When looking at Enticed’s pedigree and dosage profile, it would appear that he is best suited to racing at 7-8 furlongs, although this may not be the case. In each of the races he has contested (ranging from 6-9 furlongs), with the exception of his performance in the Holy Bull, Enticed has shown a driving will to win and really has given a good account of himself in each start. Moreover, it is possible that Enticed has been able to solely depend upon the good stamina numbers that he has acquired from Medaglia d’Oro, which allows him to overcome the huge amounts of inherited speed from his mares. Enticed will once more be ridden by Junior Alvarado in the Kentucky Derby, with whom he has never finished worse than 3rd in five career starts.
Alvarado has also ridden previously in the Derby, albeit once in 2016, when he guided Mohaymen to a 4th place finish. He too, along with Godolphin and Kiaran McLaughlin, will be looking for his first Kentucky Derby victory.
It should be noted that Enticed has been working quite well since his 2nd place finish in the Wood. On April 19th, Enticed worked in the company of talented graded stakes winning filly, Take Charge Paula. According to Kiaran, he had his best workout of the year when he breezed four furlongs in 48.1 seconds with a gallop out of 13 seconds for the final furlong, finishing the work in 1:01.1.
Furthermore, Enticed will work once more at the Palm Meadows training track on April 26th before shipping to Churchill Downs on April 29th.
Finally, this year’s Kentucky Derby field is absolutely loaded with very talented colts, many with impressive pedigrees and resumes. In addition, many of those same colts possess similar running styles to that of Enticed. Thus it seems that Enticed will have his work cut out for him since it appears that it could be a crowded field of contenders vying for the lead when the field turns for home.
However, if Enticed can somehow disregard the mare portion of his pedigree and once more rely upon the traits that Medaglia d’Oro has passed on, May 5th could prove to be a very historic day for Godolphin, McLaughlin and Alvarado.
photo by Holly M. Smith (@kyholmarie on Twitter)