Kentucky Derby pedigree profile: West Saratoga

April 1st, 2024

It’s only fitting that Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) runner-up West Saratoga won the one-mile Iroquois (G3) at Churchill Downs, the first leg of the 2023-24 Road to the Kentucky Derby. The gray colt is bred top and bottom for success in the spring classics.

West Saratoga’s sire is Exaggerator, a son of two-time Horse of the Year and 2007 Preakness (G1) winner Curlin. Exaggerator emulated his sire by winning the 2016 Preakness, and he also finished second in the Kentucky Derby (G1) for good measure.

Exaggerator thrived over classic distances, and while his stud career has been modest so far, he’s starting to pick up steam. In 2022, his son Skippylongstocking placed third in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont (G1), and he’s since rattled off victories in the Charles Town Classic (G2), West Virginia Derby (G3), Harlan’s Holiday (G3), and two editions of the Challenger (G3) over distances from 1 1/16 miles to 1 1/8 miles. Candidate and Gagetown are other sons of Exaggerator who have won stakes running long.

Two-turn stamina is a recurring theme among Exaggerator’s most accomplished runners, and West Saratoga figures to receive an extra dose of stamina from his dam, Mo Wicked. The unraced mare is a daughter of 2010 champion two-year-old male Uncle Mo, a brilliant miler who has proven to be a source of stamina at stud. His best foals include 2016 Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist and 2022 Belmont hero Mo Donegal.

Meanwhile, daughters of Uncle Mo have produced 1 1/8-mile Haskell (G1) winner Geaux Rocket Ride, 1 1/8-mile Arkansas Derby (G1) winner Muth, 1 1/8-mile Black-Eyed Susan (G2) heroine Interstatedaydream, 1 1/16-mile Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) and 1 1/16-mile Lecomte (G3) winner Instant Coffee, 1 1/16-mile Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) winner Southlawn, and 1 1/16-mile Fantasy (G3) victor Thorpedo Anna. And, in addition to West Saratoga, Uncle Mo is the dam sire of Major General, who won the 2021 Iroquois when it was contested over 1 1/16 miles around two turns.

Mo Wicked’s dam is Wicked Ride, a daughter of record-setting 1 1/4-mile Pacific Classic (G1) winner Candy Ride out of Wickedly Wise. Wickedly Wise has foaled 1 1/16-mile Alcibiades (G1) winner Wickedly Perfect plus one-mile and 70-yard Go for Wand S. winner Wicked Mizz and 1 1/16-mile Indiana Oaks (G2) runner-up Ash Zee, the dam of 1 1/8-mile Federico Tesio S. winner The Reds.

Any way you slice it, West Saratoga is bred to shine in the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby. If he fails to factor in the spring classics, his pedigree won’t be to blame.