His sire was a top-notch miler. His damsire was an elite-level classic performer. And since combining miler speed with classic stamina has long been a recipe for success racing 1 1/4 miles in the Kentucky Derby, Rushie warrants respect in 2020’s postponed renewal of the Run for the Roses.

Had the Kentucky Derby taken place on May 2 as originally scheduled, Rushie wouldn’t have been ready to compete. The late-maturing colt gray colt was still a work in progress, but he’s shown steady improvement during the spring and summer, placing third in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) and Blue Grass (G2) to earn a spot in the Churchill Downs starting gate.

Rushie Pedigree
Unbridled’s Song
Liam’s Map
Miss Macy Sue
Rushie
Colonel John
Conquest Angel
More Oats Please

It’s not surprising to see Rushie improving with maturity—he’s simply emulating his sire, Liam’s Map. A son of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner and elite sire Unbridled’s Song, Liam’s Map didn’t debut until August of his 3-year-old year. But he quickly emerged as a star speedster, wiring the 1 1/8-mile Woodward (G1) as a 4-year-old before concluding his brief but brilliant career with an eye-catching win in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1).

At stud, Liam’s Map is proving to be a hot commodity. His first foals are 3-year-olds of 2020, and already Liam’s Map has struck with 1-mile Frizette (G1) winner Wicked Whisper and 7-furlong Hopeful (G1) winner Basin, with the latter also claiming victory (via disqualification) in the 1 1/8-mile Arkansas Derby (G1). Meanwhile, up-and-comers Liam’s Pride and Crazy Beautiful are showing potential as stakes-winning sprinters.

You can argue Liam’s Map is passing on more speed than stamina, though we’re still in the early days of his stud career, so it’s too soon to draw definite conclusions. In any case, Rushie figures to have inherited a solid dose of stamina from the bottom half of his pedigree.

Rushie’s dam, Conquest Angel, never raced but brings a bevy of stout bloodlines to the mix. A daughter of 1 1/4-mile Travers (G1) winner Colonel John (whose best foals have almost exclusively excelled racing a mile or further), Conquest Angel was produced by the Smart Strike mare More Oats Please, previously the dam of 1 1/16-mile Alcibiades (G1) winner Peace and War.

Smart Strike has also proven to be a reliable source of stamina. Although best known as the sire of two-time Horse of the Year and Preakness (G1) winner Curlin, Smart Strike was far from a one-hit wonder, counting champions Lookin At Lucky, My Miss Aurelia, and English Channel among his other long-winded foals. He’s also enjoyed rousing success as a broodmare sire, with daughter Mining My Own famously foaling longshot Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird.

Like Liam’s Map, Smart Strike was a late-maturing racehorse who peaked as a 4-year-old, winning the 1 1/16-mile Philip H. Iselin H. (G1). Many of Smart Strike’s descendants have followed suit by showing improvement with maturity, which is a good sign for the long-term prospects of Rushie. Not only is does this Florida-bred youngster have the pedigree to succeed racing 1 1/4 miles, he also has the breeding to keep progressing with maturity—a perfect scenario for a postponed edition of the Run for the Roses.