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Interactif: Derby Contender or Turf Specialist?

I'll have a preview of this weekend's three Derby preps later on today but I wanted to discuss a horse that could end up making a bit of noise this Saturday at Santa Anita, and that's Todd Pletcher's Interactif.  Here's a look at the race record and the pedigree of this would-be Derby contender.

The Record

Interactif began his career on the dirt by running and winning a five furlong Maiden Special Weight at Monmouth Park last July.  A wire-to-wire victory, Interactif beat Piscitelli that day, a well regarded colt that won at next asking and was briefly on this year's Derby trail until he was sidelined by an injury.

After his maiden breaking win, the connections tried him in the Grade 2 Sanford at Saratoga, again on dirt, where he was able to beat only one of nine competitors.  From there Interactif switched to the lawn where he has remained for his last four starts and which saw him win two Grade 3 events along with a second in the Grade 3 Hallandale Beach and a 3rd in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf.  At this point in his career all of this colt's top performances have come on the grass

Interactif will start in the Grade 2 San Felipe at Santa Anita on Saturday in his first attempt to race over a synthetic surface.  From there it's a guess as to what Todd Pletcher has in store.

The Pedigree

Interactif is sired by Broken Vow out of a Broad Brush mare, Broad Pennant.  Other foals from this mare have compiled a 2/22 record on the dirt and a 5/16 mark on the grass, certainly indicating that they prefer the lawn.  They've also all done their best running going a route of ground as Interactif's siblings are 0-for-2 in dirt sprints.

Sire Broken Vow has seen a fairly successful line of offspring such as Unbrideled Belle, Broken Vow, and Cotton Blossom.  As of the end of last year, Broken Vow has sired 690 winners over the past five years with 113 of those coming on the turf.  Broken Vow won the Sir Barton Stakes as a three year old and the Grade 2 Iselin, Grade 2 Carpenter Memorial, and Grade 3 Ben Ali as a four year old.

Damsire Broad Brush won the Grade 1 Wood Memorial as a three year old, along with the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby, the Grade 2 Ohio Derby, and the Federico Tesio.  He was also third in the 1986 Kentucky Derby and the Preakness.  Broad Brush followed up this three year old season by winning the 1984 Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap (on the old Santa Anita dirt course) along with the Grade 1 Suburban.  

So what does all this family information tell us besides the fact that the dam has pretty much thrown all turf runners while both the sire and broodmare sire found their success while running dirt?  Your guess is as good as mine.  It sure seems like Interactif should be able to transfer his turf form back to the main track but it's also possible that Broad Pennant's foals aren't going to be very useful on anything but the lawn.

Final Thoughts

Interactif is one of the more intriguing contenders for this year's Derby; if his connections decide to enter him he will likely come into that race without running in a race on dirt since the Sanford.  But can we judge this horse's dirt ability from that effort alone?  Again, looking at his pedigree (especially his siblings), you don't see a whole lot of success as juveniles and it's entirely possible that Interactif wasn't quite ready to handle that level of competition at Saratoga last July.  

Should Interactif make it to the Derby the price on this colt could be awfully enticing.  Think about the horses that are likely to take the big money on Derby day: Eskendereya, Lookin At Lucky, Awesome Act, maybe Buddy's Saint if he bounces back in the Wood, along with several other horses.  It's conceivable that Interactif could run well in his next two starts and come into the Derby at odds of something like 10/1, maybe better.  Odds like that might just justify the risk of playing a turf horse that hasn't seen the dirt in a long time.