By Sid Fernando
Super Strong, a US-bred son of Super Saver, and Japanese-bred Pink Kamehameha, by the Japanese sire Leontes, are two outsiders on the G1 Kentucky Derby trail, literally and figuratively. They are also examples of the peculiarities of black type.
A $127,000 Keeneland September yearling and a $77,000 OBS 2-year-old, Super Strong won his only start last year at Camarero in Puerto Rico. Since, he’s been transferred to trainer Saffie Joseph, has a series of works at Palm Meadows, and makes his second start on Saturday in the G2 Tampa Bay Derby, trying to make the crossover to the mainland like Mister Frisky and Bold Forbes did from Puerto Rico. The former won the G1 Santa Anita Derby in 1990 and the latter the Derby and G1 Belmont S. in 1975.
Puerto Rican form translated then and maybe it will now. The one win on Super Strong’s resume is the $44,640 Puerto Rican G1 Classico Agustin Mercado Revron S., which is the equivalent of a Listed race here. What this means is that Super Strong is a black type winner but not a Graded winner. See his race below.
Super Strong has credentials on pedigree, too. His sire, though in Turkey now, did win the Derby, and his second dam is a half-sister to dual G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Tiznow.
Pink Kamehameha, who won the recent $1.5 million Saudi Derby in Riyadh, is a probable for the G2 UAE Derby with its Kentucky Derby points at Meydan in a few weeks. He’s the winner of two of seven starts altogether, including a maiden score in Japan last year. Now, here’s the irony: the Saudi Derby, worth many times the black-type race that Super Strong won, carries no black type. Therefore, Pink Kamehameha is not a black-type winner. You read correctly. For that matter, the $20 million Saudi Cup, the world’s richest race, doesn’t carry black type, either, because Saudi Arabia is what’s considered a “Part III” country by the international body that determines black type, and countries so designated do not get black type for their stakes races. There are some exceptions when races in non-qualifying areas are recognized with Part II status, such as a trio of stakes in Qatar, a Part III country.
Puerto Rico, however, is considered Part II, and for these jurisdictions their Graded races are considered Listed events. Only Part I countries like the U.S. and other major racing centers are for the most part allocated Grade/Group 1, 2, and 3 races.
The Saudi Derby field contained several proven black-type performers, including the unlucky runner-up Cowan, who was second in the G2 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint last year, and third-place finisher New Treasure, a Group 3 winner. This race, by all standards, certainly deserves black-type status, as does the Saudi Cup, which went to last year’s G1 French Derby winner Mishriff, who defeated US Grade 1 winner Charlatan.
In time, the international bureaucracy that administers black type will probably make the changes to the Saudi races, but it should also address the ways in which race results are certified according to international standards. The Saudis have yet to declare Maximum Security as the winner of last year’s race, and they have withheld the payment of the $10 million purse to his connections without providing the results of drug testing. This is a country whose leader has brazenly flouted international norms in the case of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and its racing arm is also acting as if protocol doesn’t matter.
See the Saudi Derby below.