Kentucky Derby pedigree profile: Deterministic

April 1st, 2024

A seven-month layoff couldn’t stop Deterministic from joining the Road to the Kentucky Derby with a win in the Gotham (G3) at Aqueduct. A sharp rally from just off the pace yielded victory by two lengths in the one-mile contest.

But when Deterministic stretched out around two turns for the 1 1/8-mile Wood Memorial (G2), he faltered to eighth place. Can Deterministic stretch out over 1 1/4 miles in the Kentucky Derby (G1)? That’s an important question to ponder, because his pedigree suggests the Derby distance could be an obstacle.

Deterministic’s sire, Liam’s Map, was a brilliant Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner who successfully stretched his speed over 1 1/8 miles to win the Woodward (G1). Liam’s Map never tackled 1 1/4 miles, so there’s a chance he would have handled classic distances just fine. But while some of his foals have performed well running long on turf, including two-time Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) hero Colonel Liam, Liam’s Map’s best dirt runners have been sprinters and milers like Alcibiades (G1) winner Juju’s Map, Hopeful (G1) hero Basin, and Frizette (G1) winner Wicked Whisper. All told, the progeny of Liam's Map have won at an average distance of 7.0 furlongs—respectable, but slanted toward speed a bit more than stamina.

Similar speed can be found in the bottom half of Deterministic’s pedigree. His dam, Giulio’s Jewel, was a pure sprinter who won three races over distances from five to six furlongs. Prior to foaling Deterministic, she produced Frills (a 10-time winner sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs or less) and Nu Pi Lambda (a maiden winner dashing about 5 1/2 furlongs).

The speed of Giulio’s Jewel and her foals isn’t surprising when you consider how she's a daughter of champion sprinter Speightstown, winner of the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1). While Speightstown has sired an impressive collection of Grade 1 winners over 1 1/4 miles, including Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) heroes Olympiad and Haynesfield, the average winning distance of his progeny is a strongly speed-oriented 6.6 furlongs. Furthermore, daughters of Speightstown are best known for producing sprinters and milers like Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Aloha West, Metropolitan H. (G1) victor Vekoma, and Humana Distaff (G1) heroine Mia Mischief.

Some horses defy their pedigrees and excel over distances they aren’t bred to handle, and perhaps Deterministic will prove to be one of those horses. But at the moment, his pedigree suggests sprints and miles will be his strong suit more than classic distances.