Fourteen years after Hard Spun made a bold attempt to carry his speed in the Kentucky Derby (G1), his son Caddo River could try to do the same on the first Saturday in May.
Hard Spun was a warrior on the 2007 Triple Crown trail, finishing second in the Derby, third in the Preakness (G1), and fourth in the Belmont (G1). That was a particularly deep crop too, with the three jewels won by Street Sense, Curlin, and Rags to Riches, respectively. Although Hard Spun bounced back to the winner’s circle in the 7-furlong King’s Bishop (G1), he reiterated his ability to stay the American classic distance when runner-up to Curlin in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).
From the sire line of 1964 Kentucky Derby and Preakness champion Northern Dancer, Hard Spun is by the internationally renowned Danzig. In his very first crop, Danzig sired champion Chief’s Crown, winner of the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) in 1984, and in a more dubious historical distinction, the beaten favorite in all three Triple Crown races in 1985. As a consolation prize, at least Chief’s Crown placed in the three jewels, and fellow Danzig son Stephan’s Odyssey was runner-up in both the Derby and Belmont that year.
Danzig would go on to sire Pine Bluff, the 1992 Preakness hero, and Danzig Connection, an incredible fifth straight Belmont winner for Hall of Famer Woody Stephens in 1986. Although Danzig never got a Kentucky Derby winner, two of his sons did – Polish Navy, who sired Sea Hero (1993), and Boundary, responsible for Big Brown (2008).
Hard Spun hopes to join that list. His best son so far to attempt it, Wicked Strong, was fourth in the 2014 Derby. Hard Spun has sired several other top sophomores, including 2012 champion 3-year-old filly Questing; Spun to Run, who beat elders in the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1); and Ertijaal, winner of the 2015 Cape Derby (G1) in South Africa.
As that summary suggests, Hard Spun can sire all types of runners, dirt or turf, long or short, and he’s already factoring in succeeding generations. His son Wicked Strong is the sire of 2021 Derby hopeful Brooklyn Strong, and fellow contender Capo Kane is out of a Hard Spun mare (as is 2018 Derby runner-up Good Magic).
Caddo River’s dam, Pangburn, was herself on the 2015 Kentucky Oaks (G1) trail for a time. Runner-up in the Pocahontas (G2) in her stakes debut, she later finished third in the Honeybee (G3) and fourth in the Fantasy (G3). After an eighth behind Lady Eli in the Wonder Again on turf, Pangburn reverted to dirt and missed by a nose in the Iowa Oaks (G3). She earned her stakes win as a 4-year-old in the Maryland Racing Media at Laurel, placed in two other minor stakes, and retired with $338,480 from four wins in 17 starts.
Pangburn is a daughter of the A.P. Indy stallion Congrats, a blueblood from the immediate family of Sea Hero. Reaching his peak as a 5-year-old, Congrats scored his major win in the 2005 San Pasqual H. (G2), finished runner-up in Santa Anita H. (G1), and held third in the Hollywood Gold Cup H. (G1). His best offspring tend to be fillies, like Grade 1-winning sprinters Turbulent Descent and Haveyougoneaway as well as 2016 Dubai Carnival star Polar River.
Thus Congrats figures to have an impact as a broodmare sire, and indeed last year’s Kentucky Oaks winner, Shedaresthedevil, is out of a Congrats mare. His high-profile daughters on the track are becoming stakes producers too – Turbulent Descent is the dam of Irish Group 3 scorer Spanish Steps (by Galileo); Wickedly Perfect, the 2010 Alcibiades (G1) winner, produced Japanese Grade 2 victor Hartley (by Deep Impact); and more recently, 2014 Tempted (G3) vixen Jacaranda saw her filly American West finish second in the same race at Aqueduct last November.
Pangburn was part of a mother/daughter tag team too. Her dam, It’s True Love, was runner-up in the Maryland Racing Media in 2007 – the same stakes that Pangburn would win nine years later. It’s True Love prevailed in a photo in the Winter Melody at Delaware, but she’s excelled as broodmare with three stakes winners. Her son Ain’t Got Time also achieved his biggest win at Delaware, in the 2015 Carl Hanford Memorial, and daughter Eres Tu did even better by capturing the Dec. 26 Allaire DuPont (G3). Like her half-sister Pangburn, Eres Tu too had also been on the Oaks trail, placing in the 2019 Silverbulletday and Rachel Alexandra (G2).
It’s True Love is by Yes It’s True, also the second damsire of Midnight Bourbon. Her dam, Lovin Spoonful, is by Dixieland Band, the broodmare sire of Derby heroes Monarchos (2001) and Street Sense. Interestingly, Lovin Spoonful is bred on the cross of a Northern Dancer-line stallion over a Mr. Prospector mare. That’s the mirror image of the cross in Congrats’ dam, Praise (by “Mr. P” out of the Grade 2-winning Northern Dancer mare Wild Applause).As a result, Pangburn is inbred to both supersires.
Lovin Spoonful’s dam, O My Darling, is a full sister to Tank’s Prospect, who nabbed the aforementioned Chief’s Crown in the Preakness. Tank’s Prospect previously landed the Arkansas Derby (G1), the culmination of Oaklawn’s prep series that Caddo River is currently navigating.
My Dear Girl belongs to the family numbered 21-a, the same tap-root as Derby winners Plaudit (1898) and Whiskery (1927). Those two descend from a different branch, however, so you have to go back about 200 years to find their common ancestress with Caddo River, the British mare Wagtail (foaled in 1818). Caddo River’s line was imported later than Plaudit and Whiskery’s. His ninth dam, *Clonaslee, arrived stateside as a youngster in the early 1920s. A hardy campaigner over four seasons, *Clonaslee ran in 76 races, won 16, and placed 26 times.