Just looking at his parentage – by Kitten’s Joy and out of a Theatrical mare – you’d guess that Oscar Nominated probably isn’t a dirt horse. And you’d be right. Having spent his nascent career on turf, he switched to Turfway Park’s Polytrack and earned his Kentucky Derby (G1) ticket in the Spiral (G3).  

Kitten’s Joy reigned as the champion turf horse of 2004 thanks to major victories in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational (G1), Secretariat (G1) and Virginia Derby (G3). He also took runner-up honors in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) and the following summer’s Arlington Million (G1).

After sporting the Ramsey silks with such distinction on the racecourse, the homebred put Ramsey Farm on the stud farm map by topping North America’s sire list in 2013. A grandson of phenomenal European patriarch Sadler’s Wells, Kitten’s Joy has become his leading exponent (along with dirt star Medaglia d’Oro) on this continent.

Unlike Medaglia d’Oro, however, Kitten’s Joy has been synonymous with success on turf. His progeny include current turf champion Big Blue Kitten; dual Breeders’ Cup heroine Stephanie’s Kitten, who landed the 2011 Juvenile Fillies Turf (G2) and last year’s Filly & Mare Turf (G1); multiple Grade 1 scorer Real Solution; 2014 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) victor Bobby’s Kitten and marathoner Charming Kitten, both now chasing big prizes in Europe for Dermot Weld. Kitten’s Joy has sired an occasional dirt performer (such as Pick of the Litter, Csaba, and Politicallycorrect), but they’re not of the same class as his best turf runners.

That gives pause about Oscar Nominated, especially since the three previous Kitten’s Joys to attempt the Derby were all unplaced – Dean’s Kitten (2010), Derby Kitten (2011) and Charming Kitten (2013). They also earned their Derby points on Polytrack, with Dean’s Kitten providing the nearest parallel as the Spiral winner.

Oscar Nominated is different in one respect from those “Kittens.” While they were all Ramsey homebreds, Oscar Nominated was bred by Mrs. Jerry Amerman and claimed by Ramsey at two.

His dam, Devine Actress, was purely a turf/synthetic performer who captured the Santa Lucia over Santa Anita’s old Pro-Ride in 2010. Out of the top two only once in six starts, she bankrolled $107,300. Oscar Nominated is her second registered foal, and first winner.

Oscar Nominated has a turf champion for a broodmare sire as well, since Devine Actress is by 1987 Breeders’ Cup Turf victor Theatrical. The Nureyev stallion compiled a successful record at stud, siring Royal Anthem, Zagreb, Winchester, Astra, multiple Japanese champion Hishi Amazon, 2002 Melbourne Cup (G1) winner Media Puzzle, and the versatile Geri, a bona fide Grade 1 runner on both dirt and turf.

Theatrical’s daughters have maintained that pattern, with many notable offspring excelling on turf – e.g., 2007 Breeders’ Cup Turf-winning champion English Channel, 2006 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) hero Rail Link, Wigmore Hall, and Together Forever. When Theatrical does factor as the broodmare sire of a significant winner on dirt, as in the cases of Coil (by Point Given) and Taris (by Flatter), he’s getting plenty of help from the sire. Coil’s half-brother, reigning Hollywood Derby (G1) winner Chiropiractor, underscores the point: by Kitten’s Joy, and thus bred on the same cross as Oscar Nominated, he’s raced exclusively on turf so far.

We may see more of that cross of Kitten’s Joy over Theatrical, since it duplicates the close relatives Sadler’s Wells and Nureyev. Oscar Nominated is accordingly inbred to their sire, Northern Dancer, and the noted matron Special (thereby imparting the Rasmussen Factor of inbreeding to superior females).

Oscar Nominated’s pedigree finally gets a glimpse of dirt with his second dam, Devine Beauty, a three-quarter sister to Grade 3 winner Sorcerer’s Stone. Devine Beauty is by supersire Mr. Prospector and out of a full sister to Grade 1 hero and $2.5 million-earner Dramatic Gold.

Further back, Oscar Nominated counts as his seventh dam Lady Pitt, the champion 3-year-old filly of 1959. Lady Pitt is the ancestress of a number of Phipps Stable standouts, via her multiple Grade 2-winning daughter Blitey – Dancing Spree, Furlough, Fantastic Find (dam of Finder’s Fee), Oh What a Windfall, Dancing Forever, and champion Heavenly Prize (dam of Good Reward and Pure Prize).

At a much more distant remove, this maternal line is responsible for 2002 Kentucky Derby and Preakness (G1) champion War Emblem.

Pedigree information courtesy of Brisnet.com.

Photo courtesy of Turfway/Coady Photography.