The dozen contenders expected in Saturday’s Preakness (G1) bring notable pedigrees into the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.
Although none is by a Preakness winner, three are grandsons of champions who’ve figuratively hoisted the Woodlawn Vase.
Win Win Win boasts that both of his grandsires, Sunday Silence and Smarty Jones, are Kentucky Derby (G1) winners who added the Preakness. His sire, Japanese champion Hat Trick, is by Hall of Famer Sunday Silence, who prevailed in the 1989 epic over Easy Goer. (Hat Trick has two more Preakness victors close up on his dam’s side, Codex  and Hall of Famer Damascus .) Win Win Win’s broodmare sire, Smarty Jones, ran away from his 2004 rivals by a Preakness record margin of 11 1/2 lengths.
Bernardini, hero of the 2006 edition marred by the breakdown of Barbaro, factors in the second generation of two contenders. Local star Alwaysmining is by Bernardini’s son Stay Thirsty, and Owendale is out of a Bernardini mare.
Bernardini’s sire, Hall of Famer A.P. Indy, is in turn by 1977 Triple Crown sweeper Seattle Slew and out of a mare by 1973 Triple Crown legend Secretariat. A.P. Indy is also a direct male-line ancestor of Bourbon War (by Tapit) and Signalman (by General Quarters, a son of Sky Mesa). Coincidentally, all three contenders from this sire line are new shooters.
A.P. Indy’s influence is visible on the dam’s side as well, beyond the link to the aforementioned Owendale. A.P. Indy appears as the broodmare sire of presumptive favorite Improbable and perhaps the biggest outsider of the group, Market King.
Improbable, by City Zip, is one of three representatives of the Mr. Prospector sire line. Mr. Prospector was in turn the grandson of Preakness winners Native Dancer (1953) and Nashua (1955). Ironically, both Hall of Famers had suffered Kentucky Derby upsets.
Bodexpress is by Bodemeister, who was just caught by a neck in the 2012 Preakness, denied again by I’ll Have Another in a reprise of their Derby finish. As a son of Empire Maker, Bodemeister hails from the same branch of “Mr. P” as 2015 Triple Crown star American Pharoah. The speedy stakes firster Warrior’s Charge is a son of Munnings, a scion of the Gone West branch via Speightstown.
Five contenders descend from the sire line of Hall of Famer Northern Dancer, the 1964 Derby and Preakness victor (who was out of a Native Dancer mare).
Three come by way of Storm Cat. Anothertwistafate is from the final crop of Scat Daddy. The sire of 2018 Triple Crown champion Justify, the late Scat Daddy has the distinction of being the only sire in the line-up already responsible for a Preakness winner. The other two Storm Cat-line descendants are both by Into Mischief – Owendale and Market King, each bred along a similar pattern with their dams hailing from the A.P. Indy line as described above.
War of Will, by Danzig’s son War Front, is out of a Sadler’s Wells mare and therefore closely inbred (3×3) to Northern Dancer. Laughing Fox likewise has both parents from the Northern Dancer line, and in fact his pedigree sports four crosses of Northern Dancer within five generations. By Union Rags, himself a son of the Dixieland Band stallion Dixie Union, Laughing Fox is out of a mare by Storm Cat’s son Stormy Atlantic.
Looking purely at the matrilineal descent, Laughing Fox and Improbable trace to the same family number 16-h with Ornament (sister to unbeaten 1886 English Triple Crown winner Ormonde) as their common ancestress. Laughing Fox descends from Ornament’s all-time great daughter, Sceptre, who won four English classics.
While Improbable springs from a different daughter, this branch includes such American champions as Chateaugay, the 1963 Derby and Belmont (G1) hero who was second in the Preakness, and Little Current, who rebounded from the 1974 Derby to turn the Preakness/Belmont double. A more recent classic performer on Improbable’s page is Hard Spun, the 2007 Derby runner-up and Preakness third.
War of Will and Market King, bred by the Niarchos Family’s Flaxman Holdings from different families, are each related to outstanding European milers. War of Will’s dam is a half-sister to French and Irish highweight Spinning World, hero of the 1997 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), and Market King’s granddam is European champion and dual classic winner Divine Proportions.
Bourbon War is the first foal from star filly My Conquestadory. By the Sadler’s Wells-line sire Artie Schiller, My Conquestadory beat the boys in her career debut in the Summer (G2) at Woodbine and came right back to take the Alcibiades (G1). Her mating with Tapit gives her resulting foal, Bourbon War, inbreeding to both A.P. Indy and Mr. Prospector.
Anothertwistafate is out of a half-sister to such Juddmonte celebrities as French classic winner Nebraska Tornado, Group 2 victor Burning Sun, and Grade 3 scorer Mirabilis (herself the dam of Group 3 hero Monarchs Glen). Anothertwistafate’s pedigree offers a fascinating pattern: his granddam, Grade 2 winner Media Nox, is bred on a similar Mr. Prospector/Nijinsky II cross as his paternal granddam (Scat Daddy’s dam) Love Style so he is accordingly inbred to those patriarchs.
Owendale’s family has produced three Grade 1 winners in the past decade or so, from his “uncle” Great Hunter and Mor Spirit to champion filly Stellar Wind, victorious in six Grade 1s.
Signalman sports inbreeding to Danzig, but perhaps his most significant duplication is of Broodmare of the Year Weekend Surprise, through her sons A.P. Indy and Honor Grades. That’s the “Rasmussen Factor” of doubling up on a superior female. Weekend Surprise herself reflected the Rasmussen Factor, with a close repetition of Somethingroyal, dam of Secretariat and Sir Gaylord.
Alwaysmining also claims that pedigree angle, albeit at a further remove that reinforces the duplication of noted matron Cequillo found in his own dam, What Will Be. The details are in the following paragraph, but the short version is that three closely related mares by Dr. Fager – Killaloe (dam of Fappiano), Demure (dam of Quiet American), and Consequential – all appear in his five-cross pedigree.
Alwaysmining’s third dam, Consequential, is by Dr. Fager and out of Cequillo, making her a three-quarter sister to Killaloe, the dam of Fappiano. As a result, when Consequential’s daughter was bred to Anees, a grandson of Fappiano, the resulting foal – What Will Be – was inbred to the closely related mares Killaloe and Consequential. Alwaysmining’s sire, Stay Thirsty, added another layer to this pattern because his sire, Bernardini, is out of a mare by the intensely inbred Quiet American. Being by Fappiano and out of Demure, yet another three-quarter sister to Killaloe, Quiet American is himself inbred to Dr. Fager (3×2) and Cequillo (4×3).
Finally, as a barometer of their far-reaching influence, Northern Dancer and Mr. Prospector factor in the pedigrees of all 12 Preakness contenders. Secretariat appears in all but one, and Seattle Slew is present in all but three. War of Will lacks both, while Warrior’s Charge and Win Win Win are missing “Slew.”
Photo of the Woodlawn Vase (c) Cecilia Gustavsson/Horsephotos.com