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Kentucky Derby Contenders Pedigree Analysis: Highly Motivated
Highly Motivated (Credit: Coady Photography)

Kentucky Derby Contenders Pedigree Analysis: Highly Motivated

With the Kentucky Derby (G1) less than 1 week away, this is my last analyst of the top contenders’ pedigrees for Kentucky Derby 147.

This week’s subject: Highly Motivated

The Klaravich Stables homebred enters the Kentucky Derby with a career record of 5-2-2-1 and wiill try to give trainer Chad Brown his first Derby win. The race will be Highly Motivated’s third start of the year, indicating he could be peaking at just the right time.

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Kentucky Derby Ranking

Highly Motivated finished with 50 Kentucky Derby points that he earned by finishing third in the Gotham (G3) and second in the Blue Grass Stakes (G2), where he nearly upset Essential Quality. While he failed to win a Kentucky Derby prep, his Blue Grass effort has many (including the Racing Dudes, who rank him fourth) believing that he’s a top contender in the Derby.

Since the introduction of the points system in 2012, only 1 horse won the Kentucky Derby without winning a prep (Country House in 2019). Will Highly Motivated become the second? 

Let’s take a closer look at his pedigree to see if he has what it takes to win the Run for the Roses.

Sire Profile

Into Mischief

Major career wins: 2007 CashCall Futurity Stakes (G1)

The legend of Into Mischief grows with each passing year. In 2020, he added both the Kentucky Derby and the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) to his already-impressive stallion resume as Authentic won both en route to being named Horse of the Year. For his encore, Into Mischief is represented by three Kentucky Derby runners: Highly Motivated, Mandaloun, and Soup and Sandwich.

Into Mischief runners have a record of 6-1-0-1 in the Kentucky Derby. If one of his colts wins, then Into Mischief will join the list of stallions with multiple Kentucky Derby winners, which would only add to his legacy as one of the world’s top stallions.

Dam Profile

Strong Incentive

Major career wins: None

Strong Incentive finished her racing career with a record of 6-2-1-0 and over $120,00 earned during her racing career. While she won the Jammed Lovely Stakes at Woodbine in 2015, she was winless on dirt, finishing fourth in her only career start over the surface.

Although she was unsuccessful on dirt, her pedigree shows that her bloodlines can handle it. Her sire Warrior’s Reward has bloodlines that can be traced back to the great Mr. Prospector, and her dam’s side can be traced back to both Mr. Prospector and Alydar, who infamously finished second behind Affirmed in all 3 legs of the 1978 Triple Crown.

With her last race coming in 2015, Strong Incentive is off to a very strong start as a new broodmare. Two foals have reached racing age and both have won. Highly Motivated is her most successful foal to date, with earnings over $320,000 so far in his young career. Most recently, Strong Incentive was bred to Practical Joke, also a Klaravich-owned horse trained by Chad Brown. This is a good sign for her broodmare career that she has been bred to stallions Into Mischief and Practical Joke. 

Highly Motivated working at Churchill Downs. Photo Credit:

Overall, I think Highly Motivated must be at least considered on all Kentucky Derby tickets. He came closer to beating Essential Quality than any other horse has done and the Derby will be his third start of the year, so there’s still room for improvement. I’ll be using him underneath in my exactas and trifectas. 

Let me know what you think!

Vinny Blond is a New York-based handicapper who is one half of Real Dynasty Picks. Follow him on Twitter @PicksByDynasty.

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