Making the Grade, which will run through the 2019 Belmont Stakes, focuses on the winners or top performers of the key races, usually from the previous weekend, who could make an impact on the Triple Crown series. We’ll be taking a close look at impressive winners and evaluating their chances to win classic races based upon ability, running style, connections (owner, trainer, jockey), and pedigree.
The question will remain until Anothertwistafate provides an answer: will his talent translate when he switches back to a dirt main track? Only two racetracks in the U.S. with synthetic main tracks host points races on the Road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve – there are three others in Europe – and winners of those races who have not enjoyed previous success on the dirt typically are viewed with skepticism. Anothertwistafate’s victory on Feb. 16 in the El Camino Real Derby was impressive visually and graded out fairly well by speed-figure makers, so let’s dig in to his chances on the Derby trail.
Ability: Alistair Roden Bloodstock purchased Anothertwistafate on behalf of Peter Redekop for $360,000 at the OBS Sales June 2-Year-Olds and Horses of Racing Age Sale. The price was the highest of the final session of the auction and the fourth highest of the sale.
Anothertwistafate made his career debut on Nov. 3 at Santa Anita Park in a three-quarter-mile sprint on dirt. He raced in sixth early before fading noticeably on the turn, but he did fight back a little in the stretch to pass a couple of horses while finishing ninth, beaten by 15 lengths.
It’s tough to tell from the replay if he didn’t like racing between horses, resented getting a face full of dirt while racing behind horses, or simply was a bit overwhelmed by all of the stimuli surrounding him in a debut race with 11 other horses. Perhaps it was a combination of all of those factors, or maybe we will find out that dirt is not his preferred surface or he’s simply not a sprinter.
Anothertwistafate switched to a synthetic surface for his next start and showed tremendous improvement.
On Dec. 9 on the Tapeta Footings surface at Golden Gate Fields, Anothertwistafate opened a clear lead on seven opponents when stretching out to 1 1/16 miles through an easy half-mile in :49.19. He proved much the best while coasting home under little urging from jockey Juan Hernandez to a four-length win, completing the final sixteenth of a mile in an eye-catching 6.02 seconds while getting faster throughout the race. The 85 Equibase Speed Figure was a 25-point jump from his debut and he took another slight step forward in his next start to an 88 when he rolled to a five-length win in a one-mile allowance victory at Golden Gate on Jan. 4.
In the allowance victory, he faced a little more early pressure but was in complete command in early stretch, covering the final eighth of a mile in 12.23 seconds.
Back-to-back open-length victories gave trainer Blaine Wright the confidence to test Anothertwistafate against stakes competition in the 1 1/8-mile El Camino Real Derby, and he did not disappoint as the 6-5 favorite.
Facing some early pressure from Southern California invader Kingly from the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, Anothertwistafate led by a half-length through an opening quarter-mile in :23.38 and then Hernandez settled the dark bay or brown colt nicely and he opened a clear advantage through a half-mile in :49.09. Kingly challenged Anothertwistafate briefly on the final turn but when Hernandez gave him his cue, Anothertwistafate found another gear and put away Kingly in just a few strides as he opened up a commanding lead en route to a seven-length romp.
Anothertwistafate completed his final eighth of a mile in 12.08 seconds and earned a new career-best 102 Equibase Speed Figure. Daily Racing Form gave Anothertwisafate a solid 94 Beyer Speed Figure and TimeFormUS gave him a 111.
Anothertwistafate presents an especially challenging exercise for analysts, and I suspect there will be a group that discounts him as a synthetic specialist with little chance in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve on May 4. Others might be willing to excuse his debut as a learning experience for a colt best suited to two-turn races who has since figured things out. For them, the bigger questions might be: can Anothertwistafate rate behind horses or run faster early and still finish as well?
I fall into the latter group. With three wins by a combined margin of 16 lengths around two turns, the talent and stamina are clearly there. I’m interested to see how Anothertwistafate responds to adversity early in a race because I believe in the ability.
Running style: With three front-running wins in a row, Anothertwistafate clearly prefers to use his natural speed to seize command early and impose his will on other horses. But … he has been allowed to set fairly easy fractions in his three wins. Dirt graded stakes races, especially on the Triple Crown trail, rarely feature an opening half-mile in 49 seconds and change, so Anothertwistafate will need to adapt and either use more speed early or relax off the pace.
Connections: Peter Redekop won the El Camino Real Derby and California Derby in 2006 with Cause to Believe, who ran 13th in Kentucky Derby. He made his fortune in real estate developing and got involved with racehorse ownership in the 1960s.
A perennial leading Thoroughbred owner in British Columbia who was inducted into the British Columbia Horse Racing Hall of Fame, Redekop also has raced graded stakes winners Alert Bay, Title Contender, Alabama Rain, Second City, Hollywood Hit, Comedero, and Yougottawanna.
Blaine Wright took out his trainer’s license in 1995 and has amassed 697 victories through Feb. 18, including 55 stakes wins and six graded stakes wins. He trained multiple graded stakes winner Alert Bay for Redekop.
Anothertwistafate’s regular rider, Juan Hernandez, took out his jockey’s license in 2009 and has 1,573 victories, including 49 stakes wins, through Feb. 18. His most recent of four graded stakes victories came on Alert Bay in the Grade 3 San Francisco Mile in 2017.
Neither Wright nor Hernandez has had a starter in the Kentucky Derby.
Pedigree: Anothertwistafate is from the penultimate crop of 2011 leading freshman sire Scat Daddy, who died in December 2014 at age 11. Best known as the sire of 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify, Scat Daddy won the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes at two and the Grade 1 Florida Derby as a 3-year-old.
At stud, Scat Daddy got off to a terrific start and has proved to be a versatile sire of elite runners on dirt and grass in both the Southern and Northern Hemispheres with a Horse of the Year in the U.S. in Justify plus two in Chile among a dozen Southern Hemisphere champions. Scat Daddy also has sired multiple elite U.S. sprinters such as Lady Aurelia and No Nay Never as well as horses capable of carrying their speed around two turns like Justify and 2018 Travers Stakes runner-up Mendelssohn. For a great example of Scat Daddy’s versatility, just take a look at Daddys Lil Darling, a Grade 2 winner on the dirt as a juvenile who went on to run second in the 2017 Longines Kentucky Oaks and became a Grade 1 winner at 1 ¼ miles on the grass.
Scat Daddy has sired 116 stakes winners and 76 group/graded stakes winners through Feb. 18.
Anothertwistafate’s dam, Imprecation, by First Defence, was a Juddmonte Farms homebred who finished second once and third once in four starts in Europe while racing at distances ranging from a mile to about 1 3/16 miles. She was sold at auction in 2013 following her racing career for $223,246, and Anothertwistafate is Imprecation’s first winner from two starters.
Anothertwistafate’s grandam (maternal grandmother), Media Nox, by Lycius, was a group stakes winner sprinting in France and a graded stakes winner at a mile in the U.S. In addition to Imprecation, Media Nox produced 2003 French Oaks winner Nebraska Tornado, Group 2 winner Burning Sun, and graded stakes winner and producer Mirabilis.
Given that Imprecation comes from a Juddmonte family, it makes sense that most of the stakes success on the bottom half of this pedigree is on the grass, but the class and stamina provide plenty of reason for optimism looking forward.
I could see Anothertwistafate excelling long-term on synthetic surfaces or even grass if given a chance, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he fares well moving back to the dirt with the versatility of Scat Daddy combined with the class of a Juddmonte family.