Kentucky Derby pedigree profile: Hit Show

February 13th, 2023

When Hit Show stormed down the Aqueduct homestretch to dominate the 1 1/8-mile Withers (G3), he fulfilled the promise of a pedigree geared top and bottom toward success running long.

The victory secured Hit Show 20 qualification points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, stamping the Brad Cox trainee as an exciting contender for the Kentucky Derby (G1) itself, and he followed it with a narrow loss to Lord Miles in the Wood Memorial (G2). And while it’s impossible to predict with certainty which horses will relish racing 1 1/4 miles on the first Saturday in May, there’s no reason to think Hit Show lacks the breeding to shine over classic distances.

Hit Show Pedigree
Ride the Rails
Candy Ride
Candy Girl
Hit Show
Milwaukee Appeal

Hit Show’s sire, Candy Ride, needs no introduction. A record-setting winner of the 1 1/4-mile Pacific Classic (G1), Candy Ride has enjoyed abundant success at stud. 2017 Horse of the Year and 2016 Kentucky Derby third-place finisher Gun Runner ranks as his most successful runner, but the Argentina-bred stallion is also the sire of champion juveniles Shared Belief and Game Winner plus a bevy of other Grade 1 winners.

Candy Ride is capable of siring both sprinters and stayers, and Hit Show—by virtue of his triumph over 1 1/8 miles in the Withers—clearly falls in the latter category. That isn’t surprising since Hit Show’s dam is Actress, a pure route racer who won the Black-Eyed Susan (G2) and Comely (G3) running 1 1/8 miles. Her first foal, Hot Rumor, likewise displayed an affinity for route racing when breaking her maiden over one mile.

The source of Actress’s stamina is obvious. Her sire is Tapit, a three-time leading North American sire responsible for four winners of the 1 1/2-mile Belmont (G1). And her dam is Milwaukee Appeal, winner of the 1 1/8-mile Woodbine Oaks and a daughter of two-time 1 1/4-mile Santa Anita H. (G1) winner Milwaukee Brew.

One might worry about Hit Show’s pedigree being a little too stout for the Kentucky Derby, since a blend of speed and stamina is typically required for success in the Run for the Roses. But that’s where circling back to Candy Ride is important. Though best known for siring champion route racers, Candy Ride is also responsible for Vekoma, Separationofpowers, Twirling Candy, Capt. Candyman Can, El Brujo, Evita Argentina, and Home Sweet Aspen, all Grade 1 winners sprinting seven furlongs or less.

Some of those names (like Vekoma and Twirling Candy) also performed well over route distances, but the point is that Candy Ride is a decent source of speed. His progeny win at an average distance of 7.1 furlongs, speedier than the 7.6-furlong average belonging to Tapit.

In short, Candy Ride introduces a dose of speed into the stamina-oriented genetics of Actress and Tapit, giving Hit Show a pedigree for success in the Kentucky Derby.