Kentucky Derby pedigree profile: Grand Mo the First

April 21st, 2024

Versatility is a strong suit for Grand Mo the First. Third-place finishes in the Florida Derby (G1) and Tampa Bay Derby (G3) have stamped him as a contender for the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby (G1), but he’s also won twice on synthetic and placed third in the Zuma Beach (G3) on turf.

A glance at Grand Mo the First’s pedigree reveals the source of his surface versatility. Or rather, the sources, because his pedigree is packed with multi-surface influences.

Grand Mo the First is a son of Uncle Mo, a tried-and-true dirt star voted champion two-year-old male of 2010 after winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and Champagne (G1). Many of Uncle Mo’s progeny have followed his example with success on dirt, including 2016 Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist and 2022 Belmont (G1) hero Mo Donegal.

But Uncle Mo is also perfectly capable of siring top-class turf horses. Golden Pal won the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2), while Mo Forza and Mo Town each won the Hollywood Derby (G1).

Grand Mo the First’s dam is Lilies So Fair, who scored her lone victory in a maiden special weight racing about one mile over the Arlington Park turf course. But her foals prior to Grand Mo the First have won almost exclusively on dirt, including multiple winners World Party, Super Twenty Seven, Palladium, and My Good Man.

That Lilies So Fair was best on turf, but produces mostly dirt horses, isn’t surprising since she’s a daughter of three-time leading North American sire Giant’s Causeway. A multiple Group 1 winner on grass, Giant’s Causeway finished a close second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) on dirt and sired major winners across all surfaces during his decorated stud career. One of the best was 2019 U.S. Horse of the Year Bricks and Mortar, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) and numerous other Grade 1 grass prizes. But Giant’s Causeway also sired 10 Kentucky Derby starters, including Grade 1 dirt winners like Carpe Diem, Creative Cause, and Brody’s Cause.

To describe all of Giant’s Causeway’s major winners on dirt and turf would require a book, and it wouldn’t even touch on his synthetic-track standouts like Woodbine Oaks winner Irish Mission and Lane’s End (G2) hero Hold Me Back. Suffice to say, Giant’s Causeway passes on talent regardless of surface.

The same versatility can be seen in Giant’s Causeway’s record as a broodmare sire. His daughters have foaled elite dirt racers like 2017 Horse of the Year Gun Runner and Pegasus World Cup (G1) hero Mucho Gusto, but also top-tier grass racers like three-time Dubai Turf (G1) winner Lord North and globetrotting Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) winner Hawkbill.

If there’s one trait unifying the descendants of Giant’s Causeway, it’s their tendency to shine racing one mile and farther. Giant’s Causeway is a strong stamina influence, and since Uncle Mo is likewise known for siring classy route racers, Grand Mo the First is bred to shine racing 1 1/4 miles on dirt, turf, or even synthetic.