Free Drop Billy wins the Breeders' Futurity (Coady Photo/Keeneland)

Breeders' Futurity Winner Free Drop Billy

by Alastair Bull

Free Drop Billy looked like he had potential Kentucky Derby class when he romped away to win the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland Oct. 7.

His pedigree also suggests he may have classic stamina.

Starting the Breeders’ Futurity as the $1.50 favorite after finishing second to Sporting Chance in the Hopeful Stakes (G1) and previously filling the same position in the Sanford Stakes (G3) behind subsequent Champagne Stakes (G1) winner Firenze Fire, Free Drop Billy raced mid-pack before striding away in the stretch for a four-length victory.

The win earned Albaugh Stables’ $200,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase a start in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), and 10 points in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series.

Free Drop Billy is one of six North American stakes winners to date from the first two crops of Lanes End resident Union Rags (Dixie Union). Winner of the Champagne Stakes at two, Union Rags went on to win the 1 ½-mile Belmont Stakes (G1) at three. He didn’t race again after that due to injury.

Union Rags’ dam Tempo (Gone West) is a half-sister to Tempo West (Rahy), the dam of Declaration of War, a group one winner up to 1 ¼ miles in Britain. His second dam Terpsichorist (Nijinsky) was stout enough to win the 1 ½-mile Long Island Handicap (G3) on the Belmont Park Turf.

His stakes winners include Paradise Woods, the beaten Kentucky Oaks (G1) favorite whose victories include the Santa Anita Oaks (G1) and the Zenyatta Stakes (G1). Other notable progeny include the one-eyed Patch, whose efforts this season include a second-place finish in the Louisiana Derby (G1) and a third-place finish in the Belmont Stakes.

Certainly there’s enough in Union Rags’ pedigree to suggest stamina, and it’s confirmed further by his dam Trensa (Giant’s Causeway). Her best performance was a second-place finish in the 1 3/8-mile Robert G. Dick Memorial Handicap (G3) at Delaware Park, and she’s also the dam of multiple European group winner Hawkbill, whose victories include the 1 ¼-mile Eclipse Stakes (G1) at Sandown and the 1 ½-mile Princess of Wales Stakes (G2) at Royal Ascot.

It all suggests that if Free Drop Billy has the class to earn a Kentucky Derby start, he should definitely have the required stamina. He should be watched closely along the Road to the Kentucky Derby.