Kentucky Derby pedigree profile: Victory Formation

January 2nd, 2023

After posting two victories sprinting as a juvenile, Victory Formation joined the Road to the Kentucky Derby with a pacesetting triumph in the one-mile Smarty Jones S. at Oaklawn Park.

Pedigree handicappers weren’t surprised to see Victory Formation shine while stretching out in distance. The bay colt is bred top and bottom to thrive running long, and classic distances should be well within his wheelhouse.

Victory Formation hails from the first crop of Tapwrit, one of four 1 1/2-mile Belmont (G1) winner sired by Tapit. Like Victory Formation, Tapwrit showed promise as a juvenile before rising to greater heights as a sophomore, winning the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) and finishing sixth in the Kentucky Derby (G1) before scoring his signature success in the Belmont.

Meanwhile, Victory Formation’s dam is Smart N Soft, who posted her lone victory in a six-furlong maiden special weight at Ellis Park. But Smart N Soft is a daughter of Smart Strike, which means she has the potential to pass on stamina.

Smart Strike was a talented route racer who won the 1 1/16-mile Philip H. Iselin H. (G1), and the son of Mr. Prospector subsequently carved out a reputation as a source of classic stamina. His sons include two-time Horse of the Year and Preakness (G1) winner Curlin, two-time champion and Preakness winner Lookin At Lucky, grass champion English Channel, and Kentucky Derby third-place finisher Battle of Midway.

But wait, there’s more. Curlin is the sire of Preakness winner Exaggerator, Belmont winner Palace Malice, and Kentucky Derby runner-up Good Magic. Lookin At Lucky is the sire of Kentucky Derby winner Country House. And daughters of Smart Strike have foaled Kentucky Derby winners Mine That Bird and Rich Strike.

Smart N Soft has produced two starters prior to Victory Formation, both sired by Belmont winner Empire Maker. The first is Maker of an Empire, who scored his lone victory in a one-mile maiden claimer over the Gulfstream Park turf course. The second is Bellamore, a tried-and-true route racer who boasts a third-place finish in the 1 1/4-mile Rodeo Drive (G1) on turf as her best effort to date.

Despite her own preference for sprinting, Smart N Soft is capable of foaling long-winded runners when bred to suitably stout stallions, and Tapwrit definitely falls in that category. If Victory Formation falters over 1 1/4 miles in the Kentucky Derby, it won’t be because his pedigree lacks stamina.