- Kiaran McLaughlin will have a nice souvenir to take home with him from Dubai after this weekend’s races – Henny Hughes. What the point of the colt’s little sojourn to the Middle East was we don’t know, but he hasn’t yet run at three, and he’ll be aimed for a comeback well after the Kentucky Derby is run.
But the trainer has no shortage of Derby prospects, even if none of them are in the top tier at this point. One of them, Jazil, seemed to be off the trail after a dull 7th in the Fountain of Youth, but he was found to have bled afterwards, will be pointed to the Blue Grass, and is back on my list of closing-type sucker horses. That race seemed too bad to be true after he nearly matched strides with the talented Corinthian in the Holy Bull. [CORRECTION - That was an allowance race, not the Holy Bull, sorry.] Flashy Bull, placed second via DQ in the FOY, is hanging at the Gulf for the Florida Derby.
And then there’s Like Now, the upset Gotham winner who is headed for the Wood, where McLaughlin concedes he’s unlikely to be loose on the lead again. “That horse [Keyed Entry] next time will give us a little more respect, which is a negative for us."
Like Now may have looked strictly like a sprinter based on his prior form and physical appearance, but pedigree-wise it shouldn’t have been a 36-1 surprise that he could at least get the mile and a sixteenth trip around the Big A inner track. He’s by the late stallion Jules, a son of Forty Niner who passed on while standing stud in Brazil. He started his stud career in Florida, and it was there that he produced his best known U.S. runner, Peace Rules, the handsome Blue Grass/Louisiana Derby/Haskell/Suburban winner who ran an excellent third to Funny Cide and Empire Maker in the 2003 Derby.
Jules had a pretty fascinating pedigree, one that presented some juicy possibilities for mare owners. He has inbreeding to Tom Rolfe, Raise a Native, and the great broodmare Almahmoud; but most interestingly, his third dam is Natalma, the dam of Northern Dancer, through that sire’s unraced half sister Raise the Standard (Hoist the Flag). Not surprisingly, nearly all of Jules’ top winners that I took an unscientific look at descended from dams with Northern Dancer blood, as mare owners took advantage of a chance to inbreed to the super-sire's dam through different individuals. Peace Rules is amongst those, and so is Like Now.
Like Now is out of the mare Can’t Bluff Me, by Preakness winner Pine Bluff (Danzig/Northern Dancer). Also prominent in his distaff pedigree is Belmont winner Coastal, the sire of Like Now’s second dam. Can’t Bluff Me adds two more crosses of Almahmoud to the mix through Northern Dancer and Halo, to whom Like Now is inbred as well. His dosage is 3.40, under the once sacred Derby limit of 4.0. If you go back to his third dam, you’ll see that this is the family of El Corredor and Roman Ruler, as well as stakes winners Seducer and Fort La Roca. While nothing here guarantees that he’ll get a mile and a quarter, he’s certainly entitled on breeding to have won the Gotham and to be a tough competitor in the Wood as well.
- Peace Rules, one of my favorite named horses (Jules - Hold to Fashion [Hold Your Peace]) stands at Vinery for $15,000. Alan Porter, writing on the Vinery website, makes his breeding recommendations, and it's no surprise.
He has a double of Northern Dancer's dam, Natalma, and three crosses of Natalma's dam, Almahmoud. With just one strain of Northern Dancer, which will be in the sixth generation of his foals, PEACE RULES will be very well-suited by matings with Northern Dancer line mares.