Kentucky Derby pedigree profile: Make It Big

December 21st, 2021

Make It Big has a chance to make it big on the first Saturday in May. The dark bay colt emerged as a Kentucky Derby (G1) contender when battling to a tenacious victory in the Remington Springboard Mile, setting the stage for a trip to Churchill Downs.

But does Make It Big have the pedigree to handle the Derby’s testing 1 1/4-mile distance? There isn’t an easy answer, but the evidence is more encouraging than you might first assume.

Make It Big hails from the first crop of foals sired by Neolithic, an indisputably high-class racehorse even though he failed to win a stakes. While Neolithic was arguably at his best racing 1 1/8 miles, finishing third in the Pegasus World Cup (G1) and Woodward S. (G1), he also stretched his speed to run third in the 1 1/4-mile Dubai World Cup (G1), beaten only by champions Arrogate and Gun Runner.

Make It Big Pedigree

Harlan, 1989
Harlan's Holiday, 1999
Christmas in Aiken, 1992
Neolithic, 2013
Victory Gallop, 1995
Swingit, 2004
Free Ransom, 1990
Make It Big, 2019
A.P. Indy, 1989
Congrats, 2000
Praise, 1994
Ruby On My Mind, 2011
Take Me Out, 1988
Eyepopnruby, 2002
Ruby Wax, 1982

As a son of Harlan’s Holiday (a three-time Grade 1 winner over 1 1/8 miles) out of a mare by Belmont S. (G1) hero Victory Gallop, Neolithic had the breeding to succeed over classic distances. But whether he’ll become a source of stamina remains to be seen—so far, his progeny have displayed more speed than not.

The bottom half of Make It Big’s pedigree is also geared toward speed, at least on the surface. Dam Ruby On My Mind, for example, secured her lone victory sprinting six furlongs. And while Ruby On My Mind is a daughter of Congrats (who placed twice against Grade 1 company running 1 1/4-miles), Congrats tends to pass on speed at stud, with three-time Grade 1-winning sprinter/miler Turbulent Descent among his most accomplished runners.

On the bright side, Congrats’ daughters have produced a few long-winded types, including 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Oaks (G1) heroine Shedaresthedevil and 1 1/4-mile Queen’s Plate S. winner Safe Conduct. Such developments shouldn’t be surprising since Congrats is a son of Belmont S. winner and noted stamina influence A.P. Indy out of a mare by breed-shaping classics sire Mr. Prospector. Plus, Ruby On My Mind’s first foal (Mago On My Mind) broke her maiden in a two-turn turf mile.

At first glance, the cross of Neolithic with a Congrats mare doesn’t scream “Kentucky Derby.” But a closer perusal hints there’s more stamina here than first meets the eye.