Kentucky Derby Pedigree Profile: Caddo River

January 24th, 2021

We know Caddo River has an abundance of speed. He first emerged as a serious Kentucky Derby (G1) contender when posting a gate-to-wire romp in the one-mile Smarty Jones S. at Oaklawn Park, and Caddo River's front-running speed subsequently carried him to a runner-up effort in the 1 1/8-mile Arkansas Derby (G1) over the same track.

But does Caddo River have the stamina to negotiate 1 1/4 miles on the first Saturday in May? That’s a tougher question.

Caddo River is a son of Hard Spun, a fast front-runner who used his speed to win the King’s Bishop (G1) sprinting 7 furlongs. Hard Spun was probably a miler at heart, but raw talent allowed him to place second in the Kentucky Derby, third in the Preakness (G1), and second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) over classic distances.

Surprisingly, there haven’t been many pure sprinters among Hard Spun’s best foals. In defiance of his own speedy nature, Hard Spun has generally passed on stamina to his progeny. Alabama (G1) winner Questing, Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1) winner Hard Aces, and Arlington Million (G1) winner Hardest Core all achieved their signature victories over 1 1/4 miles, while Wood Memorial (G1) winner Wicked Strong was narrowly beaten in the 1 1/4-mile Travers (G1).

All told, Hard Spun’s foals win at a solid average distance of 7.4 furlongs, suggesting he’s capable of siring classic types. But whether Caddo River specifically will thrive over 1 1/4 miles is unclear. Hard Spun is only half of the equation, and the dam side of Caddo River’s pedigree gives off mixed signals.

It all begins with Caddo River’s dam, Pangburn. Winner of the Maryland Racing Media S. racing 1 1/16 miles, Pangburn was a capable two-turn router, placing in a trio of graded stakes during her productive career. But 1 1/16 miles seemed to mark the upper limits of Pangburn’s stamina, and the same can be said of her first foal, Babybel. A low-level claimer, Babybel has done her best running over a flat mile on turf.

This tendency toward middle-distance success is stacked all throughout Pangburn’s pedigree. Her sire, Congrats, secured his signature victory in the 1 1/16-mile San Pasqual H. (G2). Her dam, It’s True Love, won the Winter Melody S. racing 1 1/16 miles. Her half-brother, Ain’t Got Time, won the mile and 70-yard Carl Hanford Memorial S. Her half-sister, Eres Tu, won the 1 1/8-mile Allaire DuPont (G3).

Getting back to Congrats, he was sufficiently long-winded to place second in the 1 1/4-mile Santa Anita H. (G1), but his progeny have definitely favored speed over stamina. All four of Congrats’ Grade 1 winners (through April 2021) have achieved their defining victories over 1 1/16 miles or less, including three top-level sprint winners. The average winning distance of Congrats’ foals (6.8 furlongs) is also a little light as far as classic pedigrees go.

Congrats has yet to make a significant name for himself as a broodmare sire, though his daughter Starship Warpspeed (a low-level sprinter) did foal 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Shedaresthedevil, introducing the possibility that Congrats might pass on slightly stouter genetics through his daughters. Remember, Congrats is a son of Belmont Stakes (G1) winner and renowned stamina influence A.P. Indy, so anything’s possible.

So where does this leave Caddo River? With an abundance of miler speed, that much is certain. But the question of stamina is decidedly less clear, so handicappers planning to bet Caddo River on Derby Day will have to gamble that he’s inherited enough stamina—from Hard Spun, from A.P. Indy, or from elsewhere in his pedigree—to see out the testing 1 1/4-mile distance.