Kentucky Derby pedigree profile: Otto the Conqueror

December 16th, 2023

Otto the Conqueror showed unwavering tenacity to win the Remington Springboard Mile at Remington Park by three-quarters of a length, in the process joining the Road to the Kentucky Derby.

At first glance, Otto the Conqueror’s pedigree is geared top and bottom toward success over classic distances. He’s a son of 2007 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Street Sense out of Dream It Is, a daughter of 2011 Preakness (G1) winner Shackleford.

But dig a little deeper into the stud records of Street Sense and Shackleford, and concerns start to pop up. Street Sense has sired a bevy of Grade 1 winners over distances from sprints up to 1 1/8 miles, but classic types—those who shine over 1 1/4 miles or so—have been few in far between. McKinzie managed to finish second in the 1 1/4-mile Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), but scored his four Grade 1 wins over distances from seven furlongs to 1 1/8 miles. Sense of Occasion nabbed the Doomben Cup (G1) over 2,000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles), but that came on turf in Australia.

Shackleford’s record trends in a similar direction. Even though Shackleford won the Preakness over 1 3/16 miles, he was generally at his best racing seven furlongs to 1 1/8 miles, the distance range over which he won the Clark H. (G1), Metropolitan H. (G1), and Churchill Downs (G2). His progeny have largely followed suit, compiling a speed-oriented average winning distance of 6.5 furlongs. High-profile sons and daughters of Shackleford include seven-furlong H. Allen Jerkens (G1) winner Promises Fulfilled and Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) runner-up Yuugiri, though on the bright side Shackleford’s son Stilleto Boy managed to win the 1 1/4-mile Santa Anita H. (G1).

Focusing in on Otto the Conqueror’s dam, Dream It Is was an early-maturing juvenile sprinter who won the five-furlong My Dear S. by 4 3/4 lengths and the six-furlong Schuylerville (G3) by nine lengths. She seems unlikely to contribute much stamina to Otto the Conqueror’s genetic blend, though it’s worth noting the dam sire of Dream It Is is Medaglia d’Oro, a top-tier campaigner over 1 1/4 miles who has proven to be a source of long-winded runners at stud.

Taking all of these pedigree elements together, Otto the Conqueror certainly has the breeding to handle one mile (as he did in the Springboard Mile) and even 1 1/8 miles. But stretching out over 1 1/4 miles for the Kentucky Derby is a question mark.