Kentucky Derby pedigree profile: Just a Touch

April 14th, 2024

One of the most beautifully bred horses in the prospective 2024 Kentucky Derby (G1) field is Just a Touch, the lightly raced runner-up in the Blue Grass (G1) and Gotham (G3) on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.

Just a Touch hails from the second crop of foals sired by 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify, a brilliant speedster with the stamina to handle 1 1/4 miles in the Kentucky Derby, 1 3/16 miles in the Preakness (G1), and 1 1/2 miles in the Belmont (G1).

Justify is off to a strong start at stud. His success is due in part to the wide variety of distances and surfaces his progeny have handled. Many have done their best work on turf, including one-mile Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) winner Hard to Justify, 1 1/4-mile Belmont Oaks (G1) heroine Aspen Grove, and seven-furlong Dewhurst (G1) winner City of Troy.

But other sons and daughters of Justify have inherited their sire’s dirt prowess. Arabian Lion turned in a giant effort to win the seven-furlong Woody Stephens (G1). Just F Y I was voted 2023 champion two-year-old filly after winning the 1 1/16-mile Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) and one-mile Frizette (G1). Verifying won the 1 1/16-mile Indiana Derby (G3) and competed in the 2023 Kentucky Derby after placing in the 1 1/8-mile Blue Grass (G1) and one-mile Champagne (G1). And Just Steel is slated to join Just a Touch in the 2024 Kentucky Derby field after placing second in the 1 1/8-mile Arkansas Derby (G1).

Just a Touch could have fallen on either side of the turf/dirt division among Justify’s progeny, and it’s likely his dam that pushed him to the dirt side. He was produced by Touching Beauty, winner of the one-mile Comely (G3) on dirt. Four of Touching Beauty’s five winning foals have recorded victories on dirt, including the stakes-place Corps of Discovery.

Touching Beauty is a daughter of Tapit out of Victory Road. Tapit is a three-time leading North American sire whose progeny have largely excelled on dirt, led by undefeated 2022 Horse of the Year Flightline and Belmont winners Tonalist, Creator, Tapwrit, and Essential Quality. Victory Road won the La Senorita S. racing one mile on dirt.

The cross of Justify with Tapit mares has already produced a successful dirt racer in the form of Champions Dream, winner of the one-mile Nashua (G3). Now Just a Touch is rising to Grade 1 heights and has his sights set on the Kentucky Derby. There’s nothing in his breeding to suggest racing 1 1/4 miles on dirt will be problematic, so Just a Touch passes the pedigree test for a Kentucky Derby contender.