I thought he was all hype at first. I didn't think that he had the turn of foot or that he really wanted to get the full distance of a Classic race. But what I underestimated was his guts. Hoppertunity is the definition of a grinder, at least to me. Very one paced, but with a high enough cruising speed and a big gas tank allows him to just keep coming as the rest slow down. Now can he beat a brilliant performer on their day? No way. I think there are about 8 in the Derby field right now that can beat him on any given Saturday (see what I did there? Bam!), but with all of the variables in the Derby, I really do think Hoppertunity will be a factor when they cross the line.
Hoppertunity, by Any Given Saturday, out of Refugee (Unaccounted For)
Any Given Saturday has been a disappointment as stud. Very simple. After being purchased by Darley in August of his sophomore year and pointed directly at the 2007 Breeders' Cup Classic, he won the G2 Brooklyn Handicap and finished far back in the Classic. He was retired to Darley's Jonabell Farm in Kentucky, but was moved to Pin Oak in Pennsylvania after only seeing a handful of his runners reach the track. He currently stands for $5,000. However, Any Given Saturday is regally bred, as he is by Distorted Humor and is out of the winning AP Indy mare, Weekend in Indy. He is half to another Graded Stakes winner, in the Carson City mare, Bohemian Lady. Hoppertunity is far and away his best performer.
Things get very interesting when examining Hoppertunity's female family. Out of Refugee, who was 3rd in the 2002 G3 Orchid Stakes, his family is littered with stakes winners. Refugee could run all day, as her best lifetime performance was in that Orchid, which is run at 12f on the lawn. She is dam to three stakes horses. First up is Profit, a Not For Love mare who was placed in a listed stakes at Laurel, but was at her best at one turn on the dirt. Second is the excellent Executiveprivilege, second to champion Beholder in the juvenile fillies division in 2012. She is a two-time Grade 1 winner, securing victory in both the Del Mar Debutante and the Chandelier while finishing second to Beholder herself in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. While she was not the same filly at 3 as she was as a juvenile, there was no denying her pure talent in 2012.
Refugee is by Unaccounted For, who was sold to Turkey in 2002, and died in 2013. While a very good sire in Turkey, he was largely a non-factor in the States.
Hoppertunity's second dam is not a notable producer, but is by the champion sire Danzig.
But perhaps most interesting of all is the fact that his third dam is the indomitable Davona Dale. A winner of about a billion graded stakes, and the namesake of the Davona Dale Stakes at Gulfstream Park, she was the Champion 3 year old filly in 1979 and a Hall of Fame inductee in 1983. She was as absolute machine in the summer of 1979 winning the Oaks, the Black Eyed Susan, the Acorn, the Mother Goose, the CCA Oaks, on it's no big deal cause they're all Grade 1s, she was 2nd in the Alabama and a strong 4th in the Travers. She was never the same after that, but that summer she was nearly unbeatable. She is a very solid producer of a few stakes horses. Funnily enough, the sales page for Hoppertunity's half makes sure you know Davona Dale is a half sister to Ali's Adita. Thanks for that info, sales page, as if THAT is what puts the Hall of Famer over the top.
While I'm not enamored with Any Given Saturday, there is no doubt that the stamina infused by his female family gives Hoppertunity a shot to grind out a good performance on the first Saturday in May. Can he beat the best? Probably not. Can he be a factor. Definitely.