Kentucky Derby pedigree profile: Hades

February 5th, 2024

Setting a slow pace helped Hades stretch his speed to upset the 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull S. (G3) on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, prevailing by two lengths over a field that included champion two-year-old male Fierceness.

The question is, how far can Hades run if asked to set a faster pace? Does he have the stamina to shine over 1 1/4 miles in the Kentucky Derby (G1), or will shorter journeys prove more favorable?

It comes down to your opinion of Hades’ sire, Awesome Slew. As a racehorse, Awesome Slew was essentially a miler, winning three graded stakes over distances from seven furlongs to 1 1/16 miles. If anything, he fell on the speedier end of the miler spectrum, running second in the seven-furlong Forego (G1) and placing in multiple editions of the seven-furlong Churchill Downs (G2).

So far, Awesome Slew is passing on that speed at stud. The (relatively limited) starters from his first two crops of foals have won at an average distance of only 6.6 furlongs, with Awesome Strong (a three-time stakes winner over distances from six furlongs to 1 1/16 miles) an early star.

But it may be premature to peg Awesome Slew as a sire of exclusively sprinters and milers. Awesome Slew is a son of 1 1/4-mile Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Awesome Again out of Slewfoundmoney, a stakes winner over 1 1/16 miles and a daughter of 1 1/4-mile Super Derby (G1) hero Seeking the Gold. There’s nothing in Awesome Slew’s pedigree to suggest he can’t sire long-winded runners, even if he himself proved best as a sprinter/miler.

That’s potentially important because the bottom half of Hades’ pedigree isn’t overflowing with classic stamina. His dam is The Shady Lady, an unraced daughter of Quality Road. Prior to Hades, The Shady Lady foaled Devious Dame, winner of the 5 1/2-furlong Astoria S.; Capturini, a four-time winner sprinting; and One More Score, victorious over distances from 5 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/16 miles.

The Shady Lady’s tendency to pass on speed isn’t too surprising. Quality Road, after all, won four Grade 1 races over one mile to 1 1/8 miles, but faltered in his attempts to stretch out over 1 1/4 miles. Quality Road has enjoyed a terrific stud career, and his son National Treasure stretched out over 1 3/16 miles to win the Preakness (G1), but there has been a tendency for Quality Road’s most accomplished runners to shine over 1 1/8 miles or less. Certainly Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner City of Light and Kentucky Oaks (G1) heroine Abel Tasman starred racing slightly shorter than classic distances.

Overall, Hades appears to have the pedigree of a quality miler. But the jury is still out on Awesome Slew’s capabilities as a sire, so there’s at least an outside chance the stamina of Awesome Again and Seeking the Gold will pass through and carry Hades over longer distances, perhaps even 1 1/4 miles.