It’s been remarkable to witness the rapid transformation of Taiba from an unraced three-year-old into a serious Kentucky Derby (G1) contender.
The chestnut colt didn’t debut until March 5, when he dominated a six-furlong maiden special weight at Santa Anita. One month later, he upset the 1 1/8-mile Santa Anita Derby (G1) in a powerful performance, qualifying to compete in the Run for the Roses.
Taiba has always had the pedigree to be a star. His sire, Gun Runner, has enjoyed resounding success as a racehorse and stallion. On the track, Gun Runner showed talent as a three-year-old, winning the Clark H. (G1) and placing third in the Kentucky Derby. But the stoutly bred son of Candy Ride elevated his game to a new level at ages four and five, winning five straight Grade 1 prizes (including the 1 1/4-mile Breeders’ Cup Classic) to rank as the 2017 Horse of the Year .
His fine Kentucky Derby effort notwithstanding, Gun Runner was a late-mature type who significantly improved with age. One might expect his progeny to follow suit, but so far they haven’t hesitated to strike at early ages. The oldest (including Taiba) are three years old, yet Gun Runner’s stud record already includes such winner names as Arkansas Derby (G1) winner Cyberknife, champion two-year-old filly Echo Zulu, Hopeful S. (G1) Gunite, Wood Memorial (G2) runner-up Early Voting, and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) runner-up Pappacap.
For good measure, the bottom half of Taiba’s pedigree contains some early-mature bloodlines. His dam is Needmore Flattery, an Ohio-bred standout who won 14 stakes. She was especially impressive at age two (when she won her first five starts, including four stakes) and age three (when she added six more stakes to her record), which bodes well for Taiba’s chances of early success.
Needmore Flattery, in turn, is a daughter of Flatter, a stoutly bred son of Belmont S. (G1) winner and renowned stamina influencer AP Indy. Unraced at age two, Flatter went 3-for-4 at age three before placing third in the 1 3/16-mile Washington Park H. (G3) during a brief four-year-old campaign.
Flatter wasn’t exactly an early-maturing type, but his stud record has shown versatility. He’s best-known progeny have improved with age, including champion three-year-old West Coast and two-time Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) winner Flat Out. But others have come to hand early, including Upstart (four times placed against Grade 1 company at ages two and three) and Kentucky Oaks (G1) runner-up Search Results.
Flatter’s record as a broodmare sire is also encouraging, with his daughters foaling Alcibiades S. (G1) winner and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) runner-up Juju’s Map, Lexington S. (G3) winner King Fury, Bowman Mill S. winner Nakatomi, and PG Johnson S. winner Crystalle, to name just a few. All four of those runners won stakes at age two.
In short, Taiba’s pedigree presents a promising blend of early-maturing and late-maturing bloodlines. There’s also a suitable mixture of speed and stamina. Winning the Kentucky Derby off of two career starts hasn’t been achieved since 1883, but Taiba—who sold for $1.7 million as a two-year-old—may have the pedigree to get the job done.