Although Dean Martini isn’t nominated to the Triple Crown, the up-and-coming gelding burst onto the Kentucky Derby (G1) scene in a big way with his eye-catching victory in the $500,000 Ohio Derby (G3) at Thistledown.

A decisive midrace move carried Dean Martini to a convincing lead in the homestretch, and he proved resilient under pressure in the final furlong, hanging to win by three-quarters of a length.

The performance earned Dean Martini 20 qualification points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, which raises a new question—will his connections pay the hefty fee required to supplement Dean Martini to the Derby?

If Dean Martini does continue down the Derby trail, he wouldn’t be the first member of his immediate family to take aim at Churchill Downs.

Dean Martini hails from the second crop of foals sired by Cairo Prince, a graded stakes-winning juvenile who ranked among the early favorites for the 2014 Kentucky Derby after dominating the Holy Bull (G2) by 5 3/4 lengths during the winter of his sophomore season.

Unfortunately, Cairo Prince suffered an ultimately career-ending injury when finishing fourth in the Florida Derby (G1), so his Kentucky Derby aspirations went unfulfilled. On the bright side, Cairo Prince’s foals have shown an affinity for running a mile or farther, with Iroquois Stakes (G3) winner Cairo Cat and Mucho Macho Man S. victor Mihos even embarking down the Road to the Kentucky Derby.

This isn’t surprising since Cairo Prince is a son of Pioneerof the Nile, whose sire—Empire Maker—won the Belmont Stakes (G1). Pioneerof the Nile himself was a capable classic performer, finishing second in the Kentucky Derby, and at stud he cemented his legacy as the sire of Triple Crown champion American Pharoah.

The dam side of Dean Martini’s pedigree also contains some Road to the Kentucky Derby influences. While his dam, Soundwave, was a stakes-winning sprinter with stamina limitations, she’s also a half-sister to Forward Gal (G2) winner Letgomyecho, the dam of Gotham (G3) winner and Kentucky Derby starter J Boys Echo. Another of Soundwave’s half-siblings, Echo Harbor, foaled Santa Anita Derby (G1) runner-up One Lucky Dane.

Even Soundwave’s sire, Friends Lake, was a veteran of the Derby trail. A late-charging winner of the Florida Derby (G1), Friends Lake finished 15th under the TwinSpires, and he went on to sire six-time stakes winner and Kentucky Oaks (G1) starter Rose to Gold. As a broodmare sire, Friends Lake’s most successful runner has been Divine Miss Grey, a capable router victorious in the Chilukki (G2) and runner-up in the Beldame (G1).

In short, it’s easy to see why Dean Martini has thrived racing two turns on dirt. If his victory in the Ohio Derby is any indication, Dean Martini is improving with maturity and could develop into a major player on the first Saturday in September.

Read more 2020 Kentucky Derby pedigree profiles here.