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Govenor Charlie breaking his maiden at Santa Anita in February (Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire)

Making the Grade, which will run right up until the Belmont Stakes, will focus on the winners of the big races, usually from the previous weekend, who could impact the 2013 Triple Crown. We’ll be taking a close look at impressive winners and evaluating their chances to win the 2013 Kentucky Derby based on factors such as ability, running style, connections (owner, trainer, jockey) and pedigree.

This week we take a look at Govenor Charlie, winner of The Sunland Derby on March 24 at Sunland Park and a contender for the Kentucky Derby on May 4.

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Govenor Charlie

Dark Bay or Brown colt

Sire (Father): Midnight Lute

Dam (Mother): Silverbulletway,
by Storm Cat

Breeder: Mike Pegram (Ky.)

Owner: Mike Pegram

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Lightly raced Govenor Charlie made his stakes debut in the $800,000 Sunland Derby on March 24 and delivered a 5-length romp that punched his ticket to Louisville for the Kentucky Derby on May 4. The colt, from the first crop of champion sprinter Midnight Lute, did not make his debut until January and thus his rise to contender on the Triple Crown trail has been meteoric.

Ability: After finishing second in his career debut at three-quarters of a mile, Govenor Charlie improved markedly when stretching out to a mile in his second start when he battled back after being headed in the stretch for a determined victory.

Stepping up from a maiden special weight race to a graded stakes (and also a points race on the Road to the Kentucky Derby) was a tall order for Govenor Charlie, but he passed the test with flying colors. Govenor Charlie pressed the pace early in the 1 1/8-mile Sunland Derby and opened a clear advantage in the stretch en route to a dominant win.

With only three races under his saddle, Govenor Charlie might not have the ideal foundation and he did run a bit erratically in the stretch of the Sunland Derby. Unraced at two, he also will be trying to buck history and become the first horse to win the Kentucky Derby without a single race at two since Apollo in 1882. Another top Derby contender, Verrazano, also is attempting to accomplish that unique feat and either one would have to be quite special to do so. 

Running style: After breaking slowly in his first start and putting in a mild bid for second, beaten by 7 ½ lengths, Govenor Charlie dueled for the early lead in his next two starts, both victories. He showed tremendous cruising speed in the Sunland Derby, leading the field through six furlongs in 1:09.96, and it would make sense for him to use that asset to his advantage in the Kentucky Derby. If Govenor Charlie can flash some early speed to put himself in a good spot – out of potential traffic trouble and close to the front – he will get the chance to prove his ability in the stretch of racing’s grandest stage. Of course, speed can be a double-edged sword. If Govenor Charlie gets caught in an early battle for the front, he could be finished by the time the field reaches the top of the stretch.

Based upon his Sunland Derby win, it looks like the former scenario is more likely than the latter. Govenor Charlie settled comfortable just outside and behind the early leaders in the Sunland Derby and took charge on the final turn when given his cue.

(Click here to view the 2013 Derby Leaderboard)

Making the Grade: Lines of Battle

Making the Grade: Black Oynx

Making the Grade: Will Take Charge

Making the Grade: Hear the Ghost

Making the Grade: Super Ninety Nine

Making the Grade: Orb

Making the Grade: Verrazano

Making the Grade: Flashback

Making the Grade: Revolutionary

Making the Grade: Itsmyluckyday

Making the Grade: Oxbow

Making the Grade: Dewey Square

Making the Grade: Vyjack

Making the Grade: Goldencents

Making the Grade: Overanalyze

Making the Grade: Violence

Making the Grade: Uncaptured

Making the Grade: Shanghai Bobby

Connections: Govenor Charlie is trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, who has enjoyed plenty of success preparing 3-year-olds for U.S. Triple Crown races. Baffert has won the Kentucky Derby three times (Silver Charm [1997], Real Quiet [1998], War Emblem [2002]), the Preakness Stakes five times (Silver Charm [1997], Real Quiet [1998], Point Given [2001], War Emblem [2002], Lookin At Lucky [2010]) and the Belmont Stakes once (Point Given [2001]). Baffert also trained the runner-up in each of the U.S. classics in 2012.

Govenor Charlie is owned and was bred by Mike Pegram, a longtime friend of Baffert’s and one of his best owners since they hooked up in 1988. Pegram raced Govenor Charlie’s second dam (maternal grandmother) Silverbulletday, the 1999 Kentucky Oaks winner and a 2-time champion. He made a run at the Triple Crown in 1998 with Real Quiet, who won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes before finishing second by a nose to Victory Gallop in the Belmont Stakes. Pegram often partners with friends Karl Watson and Paul Weitman. The trio raced 2011 Preakness winner Lookin At Lucky and champion sprinter Midnight Lute, the sire (father) of Govenor Charlie. Midnight Lute was arguably Real Quiet’s best performer, so it is easy to see Pegram’s stamp all over the pedigree of Govenor Charlie.

Jockey Martin Garcia has been aboard Govenor Charlie for each of his three starts. The 2013 Kentucky Derby would be his third start in the race with his best previous result a sixth-place finish with Liaison last year. Garcia won the 2010 Preakness on Lookin At Lucky.

Pedigree: Govenor Charlie’s pedigree derives quite a bit of class from his second dam, the aforementioned Silverbulletday, and third dam (maternal great-grandmother) Rokeby Rose, a Grade 2 winner who in addition to Silverbulletday also produced the dam of Grade 1 winner Forest Secrets. Rokeby Rose is by Preakness winner Tom Rolfe and she was a graded stakes winner at 1 ¼ miles on the grass.

Silverbulletday won the 1 ¼-mile Alabama Stakes by nine lengths and posted clear wins in 1 1/8-mile Grade 1 races in the Kentucky Oaks and Gazelle Handicap.

This also is the maternal family of 1969 Belmont Stakes winner and Horse of the Year Arts and Letters.

Govenor Charlie is from the first crop of champion sprinter Midnight Lute, who was a Kentucky Derby hopeful early in his career before breathing problems limited him to sprinting. A son of dual classic winner Real Quiet, Midnight Lute certainly looks like a potential top stallion with the ability to sire a U.S. classic winner - he has Govenor Charlie and Louisiana Derby runner-up Mylute in his first crop of 3-year-olds.

Mike Curry’s Kentucky Derby Top 20

1. Revolutionary

11. Goldencents

2. Verrazano

12. Uncaptured

3. Orb

13. Black Onyx

4. Normandy Invasion

14. Lines of Battle

5. Oxbow

15. Noble Tune

6. Vyjack

16. Departing

7. Itsmyluckyday

17. Overanalyze

8. Will Take Charge

18. Merit Man

9. Govenor Charlie

19. War Academy

10. Mylute

20. Super Ninety Nine

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Haciendo El Grado: Lines of battle

En Español

Translated by Jose Contreras

Haciendo el Grado, que se extenderá hasta el Belmont Stakes (G1), se centrará en los ganadores de las grandes carreras, por lo general de el fin de semana anterior, quienes podrían afectar a la Triple Corona del 2013. Le estaremos dando un vistazo de cerca a los impresionante ganadores y evaluar sus posibilidades de ganar el Kentucky Derby 2013 (G1) basado en factores como la habilidad, estilo de carrera, conexiones (dueño, entrenador, jinete) y pedigree.

Esta semana le echamos un vistazo a Govenor Charlie, ganador del Sunland Derby el 24 de Marzo en Sunland Park y un contendiente para el Kentucky Derby el 4 de Mayo. 

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Govenor Charlie

Potro Bayo Oscuro o Cafe

Padre (Sire): Midnight Lute

Madre (Dam): Silverbulletway,
por Storm Cat

Criador (Breeder): Mike Pegram (Kentucky)

Dueño (Owner): Mike Pegram

Trainer (Entrenador): Bob Baffert

Govenor Charlie, quien solamente habia sido corrido ligeramente, hizo su debut en de Stakes en el $800,000 Sunland Derby el 24 de marzo y respondio con una impresionante victoria de 5 cuerpos de longitud y marcó su boleto a Louisville para el Kentucky Derby el 4 de mayo. El potro, de la primera cosecha de el campeón velocista Midnight Lute, no hizo su debut hasta enero y por lo tanto su ascenso a ser un aspirante de la Triple Corona ha sido meteórica.

Habilidad: Después de terminar segundo en su debut en una carrera de tres cuartos de milla, Govenor Charlie mejoró notablemente cuando se estiro hasta una milla en su segunda carrera y respondio de nuevo después de haber sido pasado en la recta final en una determinante victoria. 

Subir de una carrera de peso especial maiden a una carrera de grado de stakes (y también una carrera por puntos en el camino hacia el Kentucky Derby) era una tarea difícil para Govenor Charlie pero pasó la prueba sin ningun problema. Govenor Charlie apretó el ritmo en el una milla y un octavo Sunland Derby y abrió una clara ventaja en la recta final en rumbo a una dominante victoria.

Con sólo tres carreras bajo la silla, Govenor Charlie talvez no tenga la base ideal y corrio un poco irregular en la recta del Sunland Derby. Sin correr a los dos años de edad, él también tratara de ir contra la historia y convertirse en el primer caballo en ganar el Kentucky Derby sin una sola carrera a los dos años de edad desde Apollo en 1882. Otro contendiente del Derby, Verrazano, también está tratando de lograr esa hazaña y cualquiera de los dos tendria que ser muy especial para lograrlo. 

Estilo de Carrera: Después de romper un poco lento en su primera carrera y haber puesto un leve intento para el segundo puesto, derrotado por 7 cuerpos y medio, Govenor Charlie batió en duelo por el liderato en sus próximas dos carreras, ambas terminando en victorias. Él mostró una tremenda velocidad en el Sunland Derby, dirigiendo el campo a través de seis furlongs en 1:09.96, y tendría sentido usar esa tactica a su favor en el Kentucky Derby. Si Govenor Charlie puede mostrar algo de velocidad para ponerse en un buen lugar - lejos de los problemas de tráfico y cerca de la parte frontal - él tendrá la oportunidad de demostrar su capacidad en el grandioso escenario de carreras. Por supuesto, la velocidad puede ser una espada de doble filo. Si Govenor Charlie se ve atrapado en una batalla en la parte delantera, podría estar completamente agotado para el momento en que el grupo llegue a la cima de la recta final.

Basado en su victoria en el Sunland Derby, parece que es mas probable que suceda el primer escenario que el segundo. Govenor Charlie se instaló cómodo justo afuera y detrás de los primeros líderes en el Sunland Derby y se hizo cargo en la última curva cuando se le pidio. 

Conexiones: Govenor Charlie es entrenado por Bob Baffert, quien ya esta en el Salón de la Fama, que ha disfrutado de mucho éxito en la preparación de caballos de tres años para las carreras de la Triple Corona de los Estados Unidos. Baffert ha ganado el Kentucky Derby en tres ocasiones (Silver Charm [1997], Real Quiet [1998], War Emblem [2002]), el Preakness Stakes cinco veces (Silver Charm [1997], Real Quiet [1998], Point Given [2001], War Emblem [2002], Lookin At Lucky [2010]) y el Belmont Stakes una vez (Point Given [2001]). Baffert también entrenó al segundo lugar en cada una de las tres carreras clásicas de los Estados Unidos en 2012.

Govenor Charlie es fue criado por su dueño Mike Pegram, un viejo amigo de Baffert y uno de sus mejores dueños desde que se conectaron en 1988. Pegram corrió a la segunda madre Govenor de Charlie (abuela materna) Silverbulletday, la ganadora de el Kentucky Oaks en 1999 y dos veces campeóna. Hizo un intento en la Triple Corona en 1998 con Real Quiet, quien ganó el Kentucky Derby y el Preakness Stakes antes de terminar segundo por una nariz a Victory Gallop en el Belmont Stakes. Pegram seguidamente colabora con los amigos Karl Watson y Paul Weitman. El trío corrio al ganador del Preakness de 2011, Lookin At Lucky, y campeón velocista Midnight Lute, el padre de Govenor Charlie. Midnight Lute fue posiblemente el mejor corredor de Real Quiet, así que es fácil ver el sello de Pegram en todo el árbol genealógico de Govenor Charlie.

El jinete Martín García ha estado a bordo de Govenor Charlie para cada una de sus tres carreras. El Kentucky Derby del 2013 sería su tercera monta en la carrera con su mejor resultado siendo en un sexto lugar el año pasado con Liason. García ganó el Preakness de 2010 sobre Lookin At Lucky.

Pedigree: El pedigree de Govenor Charlie se trae un significante toque de clase que viene de su segunda madre, la ya mencionada Silverbulletday, y su tercera madre (bisabuela materna) Rokeby Rose, una ganadora de grado 2 que además de Silverbulletday, también produjo la madre de la ganadora de grado 1, Forest Secrets. Rokeby Rose es por Tom Rolfe, ganador del Preakness y ella fue una ganadora de stakes sobre una y un cuarto de millas sobre el pasto. 

Silverbulletday ganó el Alabama Stakes de 1 ¼ de milla por nueve cuerpos y sello victorias claras en las carreras de grado 1 Kentucky Oaks y Gazelle Handicap, las dos en la distancia 1 1/8 de milla. Esta también es la familia materna de el ganador del Belmont Stakes de 1969 y caballo del año, Arts and Letters.


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Mike Curry

A native of Philadelphia who grew up in nearby Wilmington, Del., Curry was editor of Thoroughbred Times TODAY before joining the America's Best Racing team in May 2012. He credits his grandfather for the inspiration to repeatedly sneak off to Delaware Park as a 16-year-old and the 1989 rivalry between Sunday Silence and Easy Goer for his passion for horse racing. Curry graduated from the University of Delaware in 1997 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a concentration in Journalism. He worked for the Wilmington News Journal and was Sports Editor of the Cecil Whig before moving to Lexington in 2005.

Image Description

Mike Curry

A native of Philadelphia who grew up in nearby Wilmington, Del., Curry was editor of Thoroughbred Times TODAY before joining the America's Best Racing team in May 2012. He credits his grandfather for the inspiration to repeatedly sneak off to Delaware Park as a 16-year-old and the 1989 rivalry between Sunday Silence and Easy Goer for his passion for horse racing. Curry graduated from the University of Delaware in 1997 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a concentration in Journalism. He worked for the Wilmington News Journal and was Sports Editor of the Cecil Whig before moving to Lexington in 2005.

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