With his rousing 8 1/2-length victory in the Fountain of Youth (G2), Ete Indien has emerged as a major player on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. He’s also proven without a doubt he can compete successfully on dirt, even though his pedigree contains few (if any) major dirt influences.

Ete Indien hails from the first crop of foals sired by Summer Front, a turf miler who won seven stakes races during his productive career. A triumph in the 1 1/16-mile Ft. Lauderdale (G2) ranked as his most significant triumph, though Summer Front also cracked the trifecta four times against Grade 1 company and finished fourth in the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1).

Summer Front’s turf proficiency is easy to understand. He’s a son of War Front, who has sired an abundance of top-level grass winners in North American and Europe, and Summer Front’s dam – Rose of Summer – is a daughter of El Prado, a Group 1 winner in Ireland who sired the acclaimed turf champion and influential grass sire Kitten’s Joy. Summer Front is also a half-brother to Laragh, winner of the 2008 Hollywood Starlet (G1) on synthetic and third in the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

At stud, Summer Front got off to a quick start with Chelsey Flower S. winner Speaktomeofsummer and With Anticipation (G3) victor Fighting Seabee, who emulated their sire by showing talent as turf milers. Then along came Ete Indien to shake up the status quo and make handicappers wonder aloud, where is this Derby-caliber dirt form coming from?

Ete Indien Fountain of Youth 2020
Ryan Thompson/Coglianese Photos
Ete Indien Pedigree
War Front
Summer Front
Rose of Summer
Ete Indien
Mizzen Mast
East India
Right Space

It doesn’t appear to be coming from the bottom half of Ete Indien’s pedigree. Dam East India ran her best race on turf, rallying to finish second in a 5-furlong maiden special weight. Produced by the Salt Lake mare Right Spice, East India is a half-sister to Flavor (winner of the Forego S. on synthetic) and Seasoned (primarily a turf performer who was stakes-placed in her lone dirt start – and even that had been transferred from the turf).

East India’s sire is Mizzen Mast, a versatile racehorse who won the 7-furlong Malibu (G1) on dirt after placing second in the 1 1/4-mile Grand Prix de Paris (G1) on grass.  This adaptability has been less evident since Mizzen Mast retired to stud, for the majority of his Grade 1 winners have achieved their signature victories on grass or synthetic tracks, led by two-time Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) winner Mizdirection and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) champion Flotilla.

As a broodmare sire, Mizzen Mast has demonstrated a similar profile. His most successful descendants to date include Quadrilateral, winner of the 2019 Fillies Mile (G1) on turf, and Ready to Act, triumphant in the Beaumont (G2) on synthetic.

All of these turf influences might be irrelevant since Ete Indien has proven he handles dirt just fine. The bigger question is whether Ete Indien’s pedigree will bestow the colt with enough stamina to race 1 1/4 miles on the first Saturday in May.

Distance limitations are a valid concern for Ete Indien since his sire was a miler, but perhaps Mizzen Mast will come to the rescue with a dose of stamina. Though his Breeders’ Cup winners were at their best running a mile or less, a few of Mizzen Mast’s top foals have been long-winded sorts; Midships won the 1 1/4-mile Charles Whittingham Memorial H. (G1) and 1 3/4-mile San Juan Capistrano H. (G2), Mast Track claimed the 1 1/4-mile Hollywood Gold Cup (G1), and Bailoutbobby handled 1 3/4 miles just fine to win the Marathon (G2).

Then again, even if Ete Indien’s pedigree were completely devoid of stamina, it might not mean much. With his success on dirt, it’s already clear this improving colt has thrown his pedigree to the wind.