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Kentucky Derby Contenders Pedigree Analysis: Max Player
Credit: Coady Photography

Kentucky Derby Contenders Pedigree Analysis: Max Player

With the Kentucky Derby (G1) finally nearing, we continue analyzing the pedigrees of some of the top contenders.

This week’s subject: Max Player

Max Player has become one of the most consistent 3-year-old colts in this class and has a career record of 5-2-1-2.  He changed trainers from Linda Rice to Steve Asmussen after his third-place finish in the Travers Stakes (G1) at Saratoga.

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Kentucky Derby Ranking

Max Player is ninth in the Kentucky Derby standings with a total of 60 points that he earned for winning the Withers Stakes (G3) and following that with two thirds in the Belmont Stakes (G1) and the Travers.  With his late closing kick, Max Player has become a “wise guy” horse because he seemingly keeps running without getting tired, no matter the distance.

Sire Profile

Honor Code

Major career wins: 2013 Remsen (G2), 2015 Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2), 2015 Met Mile (G1), 2015 Whitney (G1)

As discussed in fellow Derby contender Honor A. P.‘s pedigree analysis, Honor Code was a very talented colt who unfortunately missed his chance at trying the Triple Crown trail due to injury, but that did not stop him from becoming a multiple Grade 1 winner at two different distances. His bloodline goes all the way back to Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, so he should’ve had relatively no issue handling the 1 1/4 -mile Derby distance.

It speaks volumes that Honor Code will have two Kentucky Derby starters out of his first crop. He joins Uncle Mo (King Guillermo, Caracaro) and Hard Spun (Necker Island, Attachment Rate) as the only sires with multiple Derby starters in 2020.

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Dam Profile

Fools in Love

Major career wins: None

Fools in Love’s career highlight came when winning the 2009 Orleans Stakes while going 7 furlongs on the Delta Downs dirt. Her other 4 career wins came at distances between 5 furlongs and 1 1/16 miles. Despite only earning a little over $240,000 while putting together a 23-5-2-4 record, Fools in Love sold for a cool $1 million at the 2017 November Keeneland sale.

Fools in Love has been successful as a broodmare. Of her seven starters, she has five winners that include two in graded/group stakes. Along with Max Player, Seahenge won the 2017 Champagne Stakes (G2) at Doncaster in Great Britain and is currently in his first season as a sire.

Other than Max Player, her other starters were best on turf. She currently has two unnamed foals sired by multiple G1 winners Ulysses and Frankel, and both will more than likely be turf runners as well. It is an incredibly positive sign that Fools in Love was bred to a top stallion like Frankel.      

Max Player winning the Withers (Credit: NYRA / Chelsea Durand)

Max Player has a very good shot to finish in the top three of the Kentucky Derby, but he is likely best used underneath in exactas, trifectas, and superfectas. Tiz the Law beat him handily in his last 2 starts and Max Player is unlikely to progress that much under new trainer Steve Asmussen. Winning the Kentucky Derby would be a longshot. 

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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