Kentucky Derby pedigree profile: Common Defense

April 21st, 2024

Top-five finishers in the Louisiana Derby (G2), Rebel (G2), and Southwest (G3) have launched Common Defense into the Kentucky Derby (G1) picture, even though his pedigree is geared toward success on turf more than dirt.

Certainly Common Defense’s sire, Karakontie, was at his best on grass. A French classic winner, Karakontie made U.S. headlines when upsetting the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) at odds of 30-1. He never raced on dirt, and at stud he’s best known for siring grass stars like Del Mar Oaks (G1) winner Spendarella, Natalma (G1) heroine She Feel Pretty, Mrs. Revere (G2) and Yellow Ribbon H. (G2) winner Princess Grace, Del Mar Derby (G2) victor None Above the Law, and Louisville (G3) winner Foreign Relations.

To date, only one son or daughter of Karakontie has won a graded stakes on dirt. That would be Sole Volante, winner of the Sam F. Davis (G3) and runner-up in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) prior to finishing 11th in the 2020 Kentucky Derby. But Sole Volante also found success on turf, winning the Pulpit S.

The dam of Common Defense is Allusion, who failed to hit the board in two starts on dirt and synthetic. Prior to Common Defense, she foaled the claimer Marsac, a sprinter who has won twice on turf and once on dirt.

Allusion is a daughter of Street Cry, which might seem at first glance like a source of dirt prowess since he won the Dubai World Cup (G1) and Stephen Foster H. (G1) on dirt and is the sire of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense. But many of Street Cry’s best runners found success on grass in Australia, including the phenomenal 25-time Group 1 winner Winx. Street Cry is also the sire of 13-time Grade 1 winner Zenyatta, who achieved 11 of her top-level wins over synthetic tracks.

Daughters of Street Cry have foaled capable dirt racers, including champion and Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Vino Rosso and champion two-year-old filly Just F Y I. But they’re also responsible for grass standouts like Romantic Warrior, who has won a bevy of Group 1 races in Hong Kong and Australia; Rebel’s Romance, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) and Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) among other Group 1 prizes; and Cascadian, a two-time winner of the Australian Cup (G1).

Stamina is a strong suit among descendants of Street Cry, and when coupled with the miler speed of Karakontie, it gives Common Defense a chance to shine over the Kentucky Derby’s 1 1/4-mile distance. But the cross of Karakontie and Street Cry also suggests there’s a good possibility Common Defense will wind up being better on turf than dirt.