Kentucky Derby pedigree profile: Zandon
The third time was the charm for Zandon. After placing in his first two starts on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, Zandon unleashed an explosive rally to dominate Keeneland’s Blue Grass S. (G1) and stamp his credentials as a serious Kentucky Derby (G1) threat.
From a pedigree perspective, Zandon hails from bloodlines that are largely unproven in the Run for the Roses. His paternal great-grandsire is Belmont S. (G1) winner and stamina influence A.P. Indy, whose breed-shaping stud record surprisingly failed to produce a Derby winner. The same can be said of Zandon’s maternal great-grandsire Giant’s Causeway, a three-time leading North American sire whose progeny have gone 0-for-9 in the Kentucky Derby.
But whereas A.P. Indy and Giant’s Causeway passed on lots of stamina, the more immediate ancestors in Zandon’s pedigree introduce doses of speed and early maturity to the genetic equation, opening the door for Zandon to produce a competitive performance on the first Saturday in May.
Consider Zandon’s sire, Upstart. Winner of the Funny Cide S. as a juvenile at Saratoga, Upstart was good enough to place in the Champagne S. (G1), Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), and Florida Derby (G1) prior to finishing 18th in the 2015 Kentucky Derby. He also placed in multiple Grade 1 races at age four, all while demonstrating the ability to compete at an elite level over distances from seven furlongs to 1 1/8 miles.
Even better, Upstart’s best traits have been appearing among his progeny. His first crop of foals produced Reinvestment Risk, second in the Hopeful S. (G1) and Champagne as a juvenile and recently runner-up in the Carter H. (G1) at age four. Another member of Upstart's first crop, Masqueparade, came to hand early enough to win the Ohio Derby (G3) during the early summer of his sophomore season.
Upstart’s second crop is progressing in an even better direction. In addition to Zandon, Upstart is the sire of the undefeated three-time stakes winner Kathleen O., whose recent victory in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) has stamped the three-year-old filly as a serious Kentucky Oaks (G1) contender.
If you like what you’re hearing so far, then check out the bottom half of Zandon’s pedigree. His dam is the unraced mare Memories Prevail, a daughter of the talented and versatile Creative Cause. Creative Cause was an elite juvenile, sandwiching victories in the 1 1/16-mile Norfolk S. (G1) and 6 1/2-furlong Best Pal S. (G2) among placed efforts in the 1 1/16-mile Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and seven-furlong Del Mar Futurity (G1).
But Creative Cause also maintained a high level of talent at age three. He won the 1 1/16-mile San Felipe S. (G2) over future Kentucky Derby runner-up Bodemeister, finished second by a nose in the 1 1/8-mile Santa Anita Derby (G1) behind eventual Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another, and placed in a classic when coming home third behind I’ll Have Another and Bodemeister in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness S. (G1).
Creative Cause has since carved out a solid stud record with Stephen Foster H. (G1) winner Pavel and multiple graded stakes winner My Boy Jack among his best foals. The latter runner won the Southwest S. (G3) and Lexington S. (G3) on the 2017-18 Road to the Kentucky Derby before finishing fifth in the Derby itself, closing tons of ground to come home seven lengths behind future Triple Crown winner Justify.
In many ways, the racing records of Upstart and Creative Cause are similar. Both displayed Grade 1 talent at ages two and three while carrying their sprinting speed over two-turn distances. And since Upstart is a grandson of A.P. Indy, and Creative Cause a son of Giant’s Causeway, they also have elite stamina further back in their pedigrees.
Taking all of these factors together, Zandon’s pedigree has to be viewed as ideal for success on the first Saturday in May.