Each day, we will look all over the country to discover a horse running that has a pedigree worth noting. We will not always pick a stakes race. In fact, we may even try to find a horse running in a claiming race that may just have a pedigree worth noting. And, you may argue that there is a horse running on that day that deserves to be noted more than the one we have selected. If so, then submit your horse and your arguments. We may print your selection and your short bio. We hope to engage conversation.
Today’s Selection is McCormick, who will be making his sixth career lifetime start today in the Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows.
Owner: Whitham Thoroughbreds LLC
Breeder: Whitham Thoroughbreds LLC
Sold at Public Auction: Home bred
Trainer: Ian Wilkes
Jockey: Julien Leparoux
Today’s Race: Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows
Sire: Hard Spun, a 13YO who stands as a stallion at Darley, finished second in the 2007 Kentucky Derby, third in the Preakness Stakes and second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic that year. But the son of Danzig, and the grandson of the great Northern Dancer, had plenty of grand firsts in his racing career. In 2007 alone, he won the Lecomte Stakes, the Lane’s End Stakes, the King’s Bishop Stakes and the Kentucky Cup Classic. As a 2YO, the year before, he captured the Port Penn Stakes and the Pennsylvania Nursery Stakes. For all his efforts, he was named the World Champion 3YO Sprinter on dirt in 2007. As a stallion, his first 2YO reached the racetrack in 2011, and his first crop featured the American Champion 3YO filly Questing. In 2014, his son Wicked Strong was a favorite for the KY Derby, but finished fourth behind California Chrome. Other top horses that Hard Spun has sired include Hard Aces, Taghleeb, Big John B, Promising Run and international star Red Duke (from his first crop).
Dam: This family is truly a family affair. Affluent, the dam of McCormick, was bred and raced by Janis Whitham, as well. And, she made the family proud. And, a lot of money and trophies. The daughter of Affirmed (Triple Crown winner of 1978) raced a total of 23 times, with 8 firsts, 5 seconds and 4 thirds and total earnings of nearly $1.5 million. That is an average of $65,115 per start. She was a Multiple Graded Stakes Winner and was the 55th highest earner in 2002 and the 33rd highest earner in 2001. Impressive. But that doesn’t even come close to telling her racing story, alone. All told, Affluent ran in 21 Graded Stakes races – including 13 G1 events. In those Graded events, she never finished worse than 5th, and recorded 4 victories in G1 events alone, with 2 wins in G2. And, she won G1 events at Keeneland (Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup), Del Mar (John C. Mabee/Ramona Handicap), and Santa Anita (Santa Monica Handicap, La Brea Stakes).
Second / Third Dams: Trinity Place, by the great Strawberry Road was unraced, but she is the daughter of the great, great, great Bayakoa – who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1998 after winning the Eclipse Award as the Champion Older Mare in 1989 and 1990. Bayakoa won the Breeders’ Cup Distaff in both of those years, and will go down in history as one of the greatest racing fillies and mares in the history of the sport. All told, she raced 39 times with 21 wins, and 9 seconds. Her total earnings was over $2.8 million. And, she was owned by whom? Mrs and Frank Whitham.
Point of Interest: Prior to the Kentucky Derby, Ian Wilkes trained McCracken – also owned by the Whitham Family – with McCormick. Some times, McCracken would break off several lengths behind his talented roommate and then try to catch him. He always did. McCracken is now being pointed to the Haskell Stakes, and, most likely, the Breeders’ Cup Classic down the road.
Ultimate Fact: If McCormick goes on to become a significant Stakes winner, then his Stallion Pedigree is as good as they come. Anywhere. Any time.
Racing Notes: McCormick raced only once as a 2YO, finishing 8th in a MSW at Churchill Downs last fall, but he has been much better as a 3YO. In four starts this year, he has two thirds and two firsts. He broke his maiden at Churchill on May 5 by a half length, despite being steadied in the early going. He came right back on June 4 to win at Churchill Downs again, facing winners for the first time. And, he beat some good ones – including Silver Dust, Donwell, and Underpressure. On that day, McCormick won by an impressive 21/2 lengths, stalking the pace from the beginning in the 1-mile test on the dirt. Today, he goes for his first stakes win.