Kentucky Derby pedigree profile: Track Phantom

December 25th, 2023

Pacesetting and dueling tactics have carried Track Phantom to victories in the Gun Runner S. and Lecomte S. (G3) at Fair Grounds on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.

We know Track Phantom has speed; prior to his stakes exploits, he led almost all the way to dominate a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight at Churchill Downs. But does Track Phantom have the stamina to carry his speed over 1 1/4 miles in the Kentucky Derby (G1)? His pedigree gives off mixed signals.

Let’s start with Track Phantom’s sire, Quality Road. A four-time Grade 1 winner over distances from one mile to 1 1/8 miles, Quality Road had lots of speed but couldn’t quite carry it over 1 1/4 miles. His progeny have trended in a similar direction, with the majority doing their best work racing 1 1/8 miles or less. They include Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner City of Light, champion two-year-old male Corniche, champion three-year-old filly Abel Tasman, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) winner Hootenanny, and Saudi Cup (G1) hero Bleecker Street.

Now, there have been exceptions to this trend. On turf, Spring Quality won the 1 1/4-mile Manhattan (G1) and Bleecker Street nabbed the 1 1/4-mile New York (G1). And on dirt, Dunbar Road took the 1 1/4-mile Alabama (G1) and National Treasure wired a slow-paced edition of the 1 3/16-mile Preakness (G1). But overall, serious classics contenders have been uncommon among Quality Road’s progeny.

Miss Sunset, the dam of Track Phantom, isn’t an obvious source of classic stamina either. An accomplished sprinter who won 10 out of 20 starts, including the Raven Run (G2) and eight other stakes, Miss Sunset previously foaled O’Conner Sunset, a two-time winner sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs or less. Speed is the name of the game for Miss Sunset, which isn’t surprising since she’s a daughter of five-time leading North American sire Into Mischief, a Grade 1-wining sprinter/miler known for passing on speed at stud.

But wait—Into Mischief might be the sire of Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winners Life Is Good and Goldencents and Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) heroines Gamine and Covfefe, but he’s also sired Kentucky Derby winners Mandaloun and Authentic. The latter reiterated his prowess over 1 1/4 miles by conquering older rivals in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). Furthermore, daughters of Into Mischief have foaled Breeders’ Cup Classic winner White Abarrio and 1 1/16-mile Wise Dan (G2) winner Stitched.

Clearly Track Phantom has lots of speed in his pedigree, but it’s not impossible to envision him handling 1 1/4 miles. He might not be the most stoutly bred Kentucky Derby contender, but Quality Road and Into Mischief are both responsible for classic winners, so don’t count Track Phantom out of the mix on the first Saturday in May.