Kentucky Derby Pedigree Profile: Crowded Trade

April 19th, 2021

Second in the Gotham (G3)… third in the Wood Memorial (G2)… for a lightly raced horse with just three starts under his belt, Crowded Trade has already picked up a lot of experience on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.

But will this experience translate to success racing 1 1/4 miles on the first Saturday in May? That’s a tough question, because Crowded Trade’s pedigree can be read in multiple ways, and it doesn’t provide a clear answer.

Crowded Trade is a son of More Than Ready, one of the most prolific and successful sires of the last two decades. The sire of more than 3,000 foals, More Than Ready is responsible for over 200 stakes winners across the Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere. This resounding success is due in part to the fact More Than Ready can sire quality dirt and turf horses alike; in fact, some of them handle both surfaces just fine, with Catholic Boy winning the Travers (G1) on dirt and the Belmont Derby (G1) on turf.

Catholic Boy thrived racing 1 1/4 miles, but More Than Ready is generally regarded as a source of miler speed more than classic stamina. Case in point? He’s sired six horses to win seven Breeders’ Cup races, but none secured their signature victories running farther than one mile, with two-time Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) winner Roy H the best of the lot. More Than Ready himself was a Grade 1-winning sprinter/miler who failed to see out 1 1/4 miles in the 2000 Kentucky Derby (G1), weakening to finish fourth after taking the lead in early stretch.

Of course, miler speed isn’t the worst thing for a Kentucky Derby contender to possess, and it’s encouraging to note the bottom half of Crowded Trade’s pedigree leans in a slightly stouter direction.

To expound, Crowded Trade was produced by Maude S, a mare by Jump Start out of Kentucky Derby and Belmont (G1) hero Thunder Gulch. Though not quite up to winning at the graded stakes level, Maude S did handle 1 1/16 miles just fine when cruising to victory in the Wild Rose S. at Prairie Meadows, proving her worth around two turns.

As for Jump Start, he showed promising form as a two-year-old, winning the 6 1/2-furlong Saratoga Special (G2) and finishing second in the one-mile Champagne (G1), but an injury suffered in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) prompted Jump Start's retirement and prevented him from demonstrating his ability over longer distances. This was unfortunate, because Jump Start was a son of Belmont winner and stamina influence A.P. Indy, so classic distances might have been right up his alley.

On the bright side, Jump Start enjoyed a successful stud career until his death in 2019. Though the average winning distance of his progeny is just 6.8 furlongs, Jump Start sired plenty of classy runners who excelled around two turns, including 1 1/4-mile Hollywood Gold Cup (G1) winner Rail Trip, 1 3/16-mile Preakness (G1) third-place finisher Icabad Crane, and four-time graded stakes winner Prayer For Relief.

Daughters of Jump Start have also produced a handful of talented routers, including 1 1/16-mile Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) runner-up Alluring Star, 1 1/16-mile FrontRunner (G1) third-place finisher Take the One O One, and 1 1/8-mile Victoria Park S. winner Conquest Top Gun.

A strict reading of Crowded Trade’s pedigree might still reach the conclusion he’s better suited to racing 1 1/8 miles or less, making the 1 1/4-mile distance of the Kentucky Derby something of a question mark. But this is arguably splitting hairs, because Crowded Trade’s sire and damsire have both proven capable of siring major winners over 1 1/4 miles.

This means interpreting Crowded Trade’s pedigree is really about interpreting his racing form. Does he strike you as a Catholic Boy? Or does he look like a typical More Than Ready miler? Based off his efforts on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, we’re tempted to conclude Crowded Trade will prove best running slightly shorter than classic distances.

But another handicapper might reach a different conclusion, and that’s the beauty of horse racing. That’s why we wager!