Turf or dirt, either surface seems perfectly suitable for King Guillermo, who joined the Road to the Kentucky Derby by springing a 49-1 upset victory in the 1 1/16-mile Tampa Bay Derby (G2) at Tampa Bay Downs.
King Guillermo’s 4 3/4-length romp at Tampa caught bettors by surprise since his best previous runs had come on grass, but from a pedigree perspective, his success while transitioning to dirt was hardly unexpected. Indeed, King Guillermo has the pedigree to thrive running classic distances on dirt, a fact reiterated when the bay colt returned to finish second in a division of the 1 1/8-mile Arkansas Derby (G1).
|King Guillermo Pedigree|
King Guillermo’s sire, Uncle Mo, needs no introduction. Voted champion 2-year-old male of 2010 after winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and Champagne (G1) in dominant fashion, Uncle Mo has proven equally successful at stud. His first crop of foals included 2016 Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist plus Unbridled Mo, Outwork, and Gomo, all Grade 1 winners running 1 1/16 miles or farther on dirt.
Uncle Mo has also sired a large handful of classy turf horses, led by 1 1/8-mile Hollywood Derby (G1) winners Mo Forza and Mo Town, with the latter claiming the 1 1/8-mile Remsen (G2) on dirt as well. But although the progeny of Uncle Mo can be versatile when it comes to surface preferences, they almost universally prefer running long rather than short.
King Guillermo’s dam, Slow Sand, was unremarkable as a racehorse, finishing off the board in her lone two starts. But the daughter of Dixieland Band has proven reasonably productive as a broodmare, passing on stamina much like Uncle Mo. Most of her foals have raced on grass and synthetic courses in Europe, with Tobruk (by Declaration of War), Northern Star (by Montjeu), and Snan (by High Chaparral) all winning over distances ranging from 1 3/16 miles to 1 3/4 miles.
But despite the success of her foals abroad, there’s no reason to think Slow Sand can’t produce classy dirt runners as well. Her siblings have been successful on both surfaces; half-sister Slow Pace won the 1 1/4-mile La Coupe (G3) on grass in France, while half-brother Funny Duck was a dominant winner of the Pat Day Mile (G3) on dirt at Churchill Downs.
Furthermore, Slow Sand is a daughter of Dixieland Band, who brings further stamina and versatility to the table. He’s perhaps best known as the sire of Haskell Invitational (G1) winner Dixie Union, who in turn sired Belmont S. (G1) winner Union Rags, but Dixieland Band is also responsible for the long-winded grass runners Drum Taps (a two-time winner of the Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup running 2 1/2 miles) and Egyptband (victorious in the Group 1 Prix de Diana going 1 5/16 miles).
Even better, Dixieland Band is the broodmare sire of Kentucky Derby winners Monarchos and Street Sense, giving him a shot at a Derby hat trick through King Guillermo. In short, King Guillermo’s pedigree is packed with both dirt and turf influences, suggesting—just like his race record—that he’ll be fine racing over either surface. And since stamina radiates from seemingly every corner of King Guillermo’s lineage, the 1 1/4-mile distance of the Kentucky Derby should be well within his reach.
Any way you slice it, King Guillermo is bred to be a star.