Kentucky Derby Pedigree Profile: La Perouse

February 21st, 2021

Although La Perouse hails from Japan, you don’t have to dig deep to find U.S. Triple Crown stars in his pedigree. This bodes well for the exciting bay colt, who emerged as a major player on the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby with a powerful late-running triumph in the Hyacinth S. at Tokyo Racecourse.

La Perouse is one of the first runners sired by Pelusa, a grandson of 1989 Kentucky Derby and Preakness (G1) winner Sunday Silence. In theory, Pelusa could have been a capable dirt runner; although sire Zenno Rob Roy was a three-time Group 1 winner running long on grass, Pelusa was produced by the Candy Stripes mare Argentine Star, a maiden winner racing 2,100 meters on dirt. Candy Stripes, meanwhile, is the sire of 2006 Horse of the Year and Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Invasor.

But his solid dirt breeding, Pelusa primarily plied his trade on turf, with respectable results. A multiple Group 2 winner over distances from 2,400 to 2,600 meters, Pelusa was also sharp enough to finish second in the 2,000-meter Tenno Sho Autumn (G1) behind elite mare Buena Vista.

It’s clear Pelusa has passed on stamina to La Perouse, but his affinity for turf? Not so much. La Perouse was soundly beaten in his debut on grass before thriving upon transition to dirt, winning four of his next five starts. This is easy to understand when you consider how Pelusa is far from the only source of dirt breeding in La Perouse’s pedigree.

Indeed, La Parouse was produced by Hat Shite Good, whose lone victory came sprinting 1,400 meters on dirt at Tokyo Racecourse. A half-sister to Hurricane Barows (a four-time winner running long on dirt), Hat Shite Good is a daughter of 2003 Belmont (G1) winner Empire Maker, who hails from one of the most productive classic sire lines in modern American pedigrees.

A son of 1990 Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled, Empire Maker is responsible for siring Kentucky Derby runners-up Pioneerof the Nile (2009) and Bodemeister (2012), respectively the sires of 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah and 2017 Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming. Other classic stars descending from the Unbridled male line include Kentucky Derby winners Grindstone (1996) and Mine That Bird (2009), Preakness (G1) winner Red Bullet, and Belmont heroes Birdstone (2004) and Summer Bird (2009).

Arguably the only flaw in La Parouse’s pedigree is the lack of miler speed. His bloodlines are packed with so much stamina, it’s fair to wonder if he has enough brilliance—enough tactical speed—to work out a winning trip in the Kentucky Derby. The 1 1/4-mile distance shouldn’t be an issue, and La Parouse clearly handles dirt just fine. It’s just a question of whether La Parouse has enough speed to keep up early on, or if he’ll find himself with too much ground to close down the daunting Churchill Downs homestretch.