Justify, the unbeaten winner of Saturday’s 144th Gr1 Kentucky Derby, is yet another feather in the cap of the short-lived sire, Scat Daddy.
The 2018 Gr1 Santa Anita Derby winner was one of four starters in the Kentucky Derby for Scat Daddy, whose other runners, Flameaway, Combatant and Mendelssohn, fared poorly-finishing 13th, 18th and last respectively. This quartet hail from their sire’s penultimate crop.
Scat Daddy, the first sire since 1923 to be represented by as many as four runners in the Derby, is enjoying another fine year, with Justify, 18 length UAE Derby winner, Mendelssohn (also victorious in last year’s Gr1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf), and Blue Grass Stakes second, Flameaway. By far and away the best son of his sire Johannesburg, Scat Daddy has over 20 Gr1 winners to his credit and he looks to have the potential to leave a lasting mark on the stud book, despite dying young, at the age of 11.
Despite being a multiple Gr1 winner on the dirt, Scat Daddy truly made his mark as a top international stallion with a remarkable strike rate at the Royal Ascot meeting. His group winning Ascot offspring include all of No Nay Never (Norfolk Stakes), Acapulco (Queen Mary Stakes), Lady Aurelia (King’s Stand Stakes, Queen Mary Stakes), Caravaggio (Commonwealth Cup, Coventry Stakes), and Sioux Nation (Norfolk Stakes). Scat Daddy’s high class son, No Nay Never, one of two Gr1 Prix Morny winners sired by him, was recently represented by his first winner when daughter, Mae Never No, won at Belmont Park last week. Another son of Scat Daddy, millionaire Handsome Mike, is currently North America’s sixth Leading First Crop Sire by earnings.
Scat Daddy’s grandsire, Hennessy, made his mark on both this year’s Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks –not only is the son of Storm Cat the great grandsire of Justify, but his multiple Gr1 winning son, Henny Hughes, is broodmare sire of Oaks winner, Monomoy Girl.
Justify is the first Kentucky Derby winner since 2008 hero, Big Brown, descended in male line from the mighty Northern Dancer (himself winner of the Kentucky Derby in 1964).
Other Kentucky Derby winners descended from “The Dancer” include Ferdinand, Sea Hero, and Charismatic, with the Kentucky Derby having been by and large dominated by Mr Prospector and his legion of descendants. Remarkably, considered he is thought of by many as the most influential stallion of all time, Northern Dancer was represented by just a single starter in the Kentucky Derby, with his son Giboulee finishing seventh in 1977.
Northern Dancer’s son, Storm Bird (male line ancestor of Scat Daddy), however, made his mark in the 1999 Kentucky Derby, when the first three home, Charismatic (Summer Squall), Menifee (Harlan), and Cat Thief (Storm Cat), all traced back to that former champion and Dewhurst Stakes winner. Not only is Justify a son of a truly exceptional stallion in Scat Daddy, however, he is from a female line with a history of producing high class performers over the years.
The chestnut is directly descended in female line from the Colin mare, Noontide, whose other numerous top class performers include the remarkably durable champion, Stymie (Equestrian). The latter, whose 35 wins ensured Stymie retired as the then all-time leading money earner in the USA, was Champion Handicap Male back in 1945. Out of the Gr3 placed Stage Magic (Ghostzapper), Justify is a half-brother to G2 Californian Stakes third The Lieutenant (Street Sense).
His second dam is Gr1 CCA Oaks third, Magical Illusion, with the 2018 Kentucky Derby’s first three dams all black type performers.
Justify’s second dam is a daughter of Blue Grass Stakes winner, Pulpit (best known as the sire of Tapit –grandsire of Monomoy Girl), who is a close relative of Johannesburg.
Thus Justify is inbred to the important mare, Narrate (Honest Pleasure), the latter being a descendant of the mare, Feola (Friar Marcus), also ancestress of Japanese champion and outstanding sire, Deep Impact (Sunday Silence), whose son Saxon Warrior won Saturday’s Gr1 Qipco 2000 Guineas.
Interestingly enough, Justify is also inbred to South African, and US Turf, Champion Hawaii (Utrillo). Hawaii, whose name can also be found in the pedigree of Friday’s Kentucky Oaks winner, Monomoy Girl (Tapizar), notably appears twice in the pedigree of Justify.
The former Claiborne Farm based resident is found in the pedigree of Justify’s sire, Scat Daddy, whose grandsire Hennessy is out of the Hawaii mare Island, Kitty, and dam, Stage Magic. The latter is a daughter of brilliant racehorse and sire Ghostzapper, whose granddam, Thirty Zip, is out of the Hawaii mare Sailaway. Ghostzapper, whose tally of high class winners include ten Gr1 winners, enjoyed plenty of success over the weekend, with daughters, Holy Helena and Proctor’s Ledge, winning the Gr2 Sheepshead Bay Stakes and Gr2 Longines Churchill Distaff Turf Mile respectively.
The 2004 US Horse Of The Year featured as broodmare sire of two US Gr1 winners on Saturday, with Justify being joined by American Gal (Humana Distaff) as a Gr1 winner whose dam was sired by Ghostzapper.
Justify is the first US classic winner produced by a Ghostzapper mare, but, given the quality of daughter that Ghostzapper has sired, he is unlikely to be the last.