Kentucky Derby pedigree profile: Continuar

March 29th, 2023

A victory in the Cattleya S. and a third-place finish in the UAE Derby (G2) earned Continuar enough Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby qualification points to secure a berth in the 2023 Kentucky Derby (G1).

The chestnut colt is conditioned by Yoshito Yahagi, whose perfect 2-for-2 record in North America is comprised of victories in the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) and 2021 Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1). Can Continuar extend Yahagi’s record to 3-for-3 while tackling 1 1/4 miles on dirt in the Kentucky Derby?

Continuar Pedigree
Gio Ponti
King Kamehameha
Pan de Ring
Fusaichi Pandora

Continuar is a son of Drefong, who by every right should have been a turf horse. Sire Gio Ponti was twice voted champion turf male at the Eclipse Awards and won seven Grade 1 grass stakes during a decorated career. But Drefong defied those expectations and evidently inherited dirt prowess from dam sire Ghostzapper, the 2004 Horse of the Year who counts Triple Crown winner Justify as the best runner produced by his daughters.

Indeed, Drefong competed exclusively on dirt, winning the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1), King’s Bishop (G1), and Forego (G1) during a 6-for-9 career. He was voted champion male sprinter of 2016, but wound up being sold to stand at stud in Japan.

A stallion bred for turf who unexpectedly excelled as a dirt sprinter seems unlikely to sire a Kentucky Derby winner. But Drefong is full of surprises. He was Japan’s leading freshman sire of 2021, and his son Geoglyph made headlines the following year when scoring a classic victory in the Satsuki Sho (G1) racing 2,000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles) on turf.

In general, the progeny have Drefong have shown an affinity for route racing. Taisei Drefong has won multiple times over 1,800 meters (about 1 1/8 miles) on dirt and ran second in the 1,800-meter Leopard (G3). Desierto won the Wakaba S. racing 2,000 meters on turf. And Consigliere won the 2021 Cattleya traveling 1,600 meters (about one mile) on the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby.

Clearly Drefong is passing on more stamina than he himself possessed. And Continuar specifically figures to have received another dose of stamina from his dam, Pan de Ring, who previously foaled the 1,800-meter turf maiden winner Nanyo Azalea.

Pan de Ring is a daughter of King Kamehameha out of Fusaichi Pandora, a daughter of Kentucky Derby and Preakness (G1) winner Sunday Silence. King Kamehameha was an elite grass racer who won the 1,600-meter NHK Mile Cup (G1) one start before taking the Tokyo Yushun (G1, Japanese Derby) over 2,400 meters (about 1 1/2 miles). At stud, he’s sired a remarkable string of top-notch turf horses like Tokyo Yushun winners Rey de Oro and Duramente, 2,400-meter Japan Cup (G1) winner Rose Kingdom, and two-time Hong Kong Sprint (G1) winner Lord Kanaloa.

As for Fusaichi Pandora, she was a classy grass router, winning the Queen Elizabeth Cup (G1) over 2,200 meters (about 1 3/8 miles). But she’s best known for foaling Almond Eye, a daughter of Lord Kanaloa who swept the 2018 Japanese Filly Triple Crown during a sensational career that included nine Group 1 turf wins over distances from 1,600 meters to 2,400 meters.

The takeaway here is obvious. Even though Drefong was a sprinter, Continuar has the pedigree to excel running long. And if his Kentucky Derby aspirations don’t pan out, Continuar can always give turf a try. Drefong is finally paying homage to Gio Ponti by siring good grass runners, and the dam side of Continuar’s pedigree is loaded with strong turf influences.