Kentucky Derby Pedigree Profile: Greatest Honour

January 31st, 2021

Through the years, three-time leading sire Tapit has sired a bevy of Grade 1 winners and champions. Standout females Untapable, Stardom Bound, and Unique Bella… Belmont (G1) winners Tonalist, Creator, and Tapwrit… the brilliant miler Frosted… the champion 2-year-olds Essential Quality and Hansen… the turf stars Tapitsfly and Ring Weekend…

But for all his success, Tapit has never sired a Kentucky Derby (G1) winner. He’s had plenty of opportunities, with 11 Derby starters through 2020, but none have visited the winner’s circle. This raises a tricky question—can Tapit’s son Greatest Honour go where no Tapit has gone before and add the Kentucky Derby to his resume?

Certainly Greatest Honour has looked like a star in the making on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, rallying to eye-catching victories in the Holy Bull (G3) and Fountain of Youth (G2) racing 1 1/16 miles at Gulfstream Park. Talent isn’t a question mark for the exciting bay colt, nor is stamina. But does Greatest Honour have the tactical speed to excel under the Twin Spires? It’s hard to say.

Historically, Tapit’s progeny have either matured too early or too late to vie for victory in the Kentucky Derby. Peaking on the first Saturday in May has been an elusive goal. Some, such as juvenile graded stakes winners Hansen and Mohaymen, were past their prime by Derby Day. Others, including Tapit’s three Belmont winners, hit their peak after the Derby.

One reason might be the sheer abundance of stamina in Tapit’s pedigree. From top to bottom, Tapit’s bloodlines are stacked with long-winded genetics. His sire is Pulpit, the Blue Grass S (G2) winner who sired Kentucky Derby runner-up Ice Box… his grandsire is A.P. Indy, the Belmont winner renowned as a source of stamina… his dam sire is Unbridled, winner of the Kentucky Derby and the founder of a sire line that includes Belmont winner Empire Maker, Kentucky Derby runner-up Pioneerof the Nile, and Triple Crown winner American Pharoah…

The problem is, stamina isn’t the only key to success in the Kentucky Derby—miler speed is equally important. Since 2014, every horse to cross the wire first in the Derby did so after setting, pressing, or tracking the pace. Several runners with pedigrees questionable over 1 1/4 miles have used their sheer speed to offset potential distance limitations and claim Derby glory.

But miler speed is hard to come by in Greatest Honour’s pedigree. If anything, the bottom half of his pedigree is even stouter than the top half. Instead of balancing Tapit’s stamina with a dose of speed, the dam side of Greatest Honour’s pedigree doubles down on stamina with some of the most long-winded genetics currently found in American pedigrees.

Greatest Honour’s dam, Tiffany’s Honour, wasn’t much of a racehorse, failing to place in three starts. But her pedigree is as strong as they come, which explains why she sold for $2.2 million as a broodmare in 2018.

Tiffany’s Honour is a daughter of Street Cry out of the Deputy Minister mare Better Than Honour. Street Cry needs no introduction—a runaway winner of the 1 1/4-mile Dubai World Cup (G1), Street Cry enjoyed resounding success at stud, siring Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense plus the superstar mares Zenyatta and Winx. His progeny have excelled running long, with a lofty average winning distance of 8.0 furlongs.

Better Than Honour is likewise a name familiar to most racing fans. Winner via disqualification of the 1 1/8-mile Demoiselle (G2), Better Than Honour has enjoyed rare success as a broodmare, foaling Belmont Stakes winners Jazil and Rags to Riches plus 1 3/4-mile Breeders’ Cup Marathon winner Man of Iron and 1 1/8-mile Peter Pan (G2) winner Casino Drive.

Taking all of these factors together, it seems reasonable to conclude Greatest Honour has been blessed with an abundance of stamina. Distances of 1 1/2 miles and beyond should be well within his reach, and the Belmont Stakes may be at his mercy.

But will Greatest Honour’s stamina be sufficient to overcome rivals with more miler speed in the Kentucky Derby? We won’t know for sure until the first Saturday in May.