In a normal year, it would be unprecedented to see a horse without any stakes experience compete in the Kentucky Derby. But 2020 has been anything but a normal year—case in point, the postponement of the Derby until Sept. 5 due to COVID-19—so the door has opened for an unheralded up-and-comer like Money Moves to enter the scene.

Victorious in his first two starts against maiden and allowance company, Money Moves prepped for the Kentucky Derby with a runner-up effort in a 1 1/8-mile allowance race at Saratoga. Making his two-turn debut, Money Moves unleashed a determined late bid to miss by just a neck.

With so little form available for judging Money Moves’ merits, handicappers will have to rely on pedigree clues to gauge Money Moves’ potential for racing 1 1/4 miles on the first Saturday in September. Unfortunately, drawing definite conclusions based on bloodlines will be tricky, because Money Moves’ pedigree represents a tricky mixture of speed and stamina.

Money Moves Pedigree
Ride the Rails
Candy Ride (ARG)
Candy Girl (ARG)
Money Moves
Proud Citizen
Citizen Advocate
Twilight Service

On the bright side, there’s Money Moves’ sire, the Argentinean-bred Candy Ride. Undefeated in six starts and a champion miler in his native country, Candy Ride was equally adept on both dirt and turf and displayed an affinity for 1 1/4 miles when dominating Del Mar’s Pacific Classic (G1) in the track-record time of 1:59.11.

At stud, dirt horses have outnumbered turf horses among Candy Ride’s most successful foals, with the majority achieving their signature successes running a mile or farther. Horse of the Year and Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Gun Runner has been a standout, but Candy Ride is also the sire of champion 2-year-olds Shared Belief and Game Winner, 1 1/4-mile Santa Anita H. (G1) winner Misremembered, and 1 1/4-mile Manhattan (G1) winner Ascend.

But when bred to mares from speed-oriented families, Candy Ride is also capable of siring Grade 1-caliber sprinter/milers. Vekoma, winner of the one-mile Metropolitan H. (G1) and 7-furlong Carter H. (G1) this season, is a prime example considering his dam was sired by champion sprinter Speightstown.

Examining Money Moves’ female family, it’s unclear whether the bloodlines of his dam—Citizen Advocate—will skew the overall equation toward stamina or speed. Citizen Advocate herself was a pure sprinter, winning a trio of stakes races as a juvenile while competing with equal success on dirt, turf, and synthetic tracks. Yet her first two foals to race (Money Moves included) have both won traveling a mile.

Similarly muddling the equation is Citizen Advocate’s sire, 2002 Kentucky Derby runner-up Proud Citizen. Despite his admirable effort in the Run for the Roses, Proud Citizen was probably best running a bit shorter than 1 1/4 miles, a tendency generally reflected by his progeny. His foals win at an average distance of just 7 furlongs, though the best include 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Oaks (G1) winners Believe You Can and Proud Spell, with the latter stretching her stamina far enough to win the 1 1/4-mile Alabama (G1).

Taking all of the evidence together, it seems reasonable to conclude Money Moves has the potential to handle 1 1/4 miles if all his genetic components have combined in the perfect manner. But that’s a significant “if,” and since Money Moves is also unproven against stakes company, the bay colt stands as one of the biggest wildcards among the 2020 Kentucky Derby contenders.