Morello – A Promising KY Derby Prospect? – OPTIMAL Mating Profile


MORELLO, 3yo colt, (Classic Empire – Stop the Wedding, by Congrats)


Owner(s): Blue Lion Thoroughbreds, Craig Taylor and Diamond T Racing

Breeder(s):  Robert B. Tillyer & Dr. Chet Blackey (KY)

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Morello, a horse named after Rage Against the Machine’s lead guitarist, is gaining ground in the 3-year-old ranks. If he can keep playing for a few more weeks, he might be able to land a gig on racing’s grandest stage on the first Saturday in May. Morello made his 3yo debut at Aqueduct on February 6, 2022 in the Jimmy Winkfield Stakes. Despite running wide throughout, he surged to the lead in the stretch and pulled away for a five-length victory.

Morello’s next start was the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct on March 5, when he stretched out to a mile. He had another terrific stalking trip and was able to pull away to win by four and a half lengths this time. Morello’s career record increased to 3-for-3 with the victory, and he also earned 50 points toward qualifying for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve, assuring that he would be eligible for the event.

Morello will make his first start over 1 1/8 miles and two turns in the Grade 2, $750,000 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 9. A strong performance there may help him make the cut for the Kentucky Derby, which will be held on May 7 at Churchill Downs.

Morello has worked almost solely on the Belmont dirt training track, and he has continued to progress as a result of his racing experience. While his pedigree is jam-packed with classic influences, he also has a healthy dosage of miler speed, which has been proved to be vital to victory in previous editions of the Kentucky Derby. If Morello fails to win on the first Saturday in May, it will be tough to place the blame on his breeding.

OPTIMAL Mating Analysis

Horses bred on OPTIMAL Matings have proven to possess more potential to become superior racehorses. In fact, most will break their maiden in the first two starts. Combined with a good physical, good vetting and a price that falls within a budget, OPTIMAL Matings help to focus on buying or breeding better racehorses.

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2 Sire Families (13B, 3L) & 4 Running Families (4M, 3L, 1S, 4R)

Good Combination of Female Families

Good Outcross Percentage

Good Linebreeding Balance

Good Grandsire / Granddam Linebreeding Percentages

Good Gender Linebreeding Balance


Key Linebreedings

  • 6,5×4 Mr. Prospector – gender balanced through sons Fappiano & Miswaki and daughter Praise
  • 6,6×5 Northern Dancer – gender balanced through sons El Gran Senor & Storm Bird and daughter Wild Applause
  • 6×6 Bold Ruler – through sons Key to the Kingdom & Secretariat
  • 6×5 Secretariat – through daughters Terlingua & Weekend Surprise
  • 6,6×5 Raise A Native – through sons Mr. Prospector & Alydar
  • 6×6 Buckpasser – through daughters Hopespringseternal & Lassie Dear

Similar Breedings

  • Exact Positions of Mr. Prospector linebreeding
    • Grade 2 Stakes Winner
      • Merneith (American Pharoah o/o Flatter mare)
  • Exact Positions of Northern Dancer Linebreeding
    • Grade 2 Stakes Winner
      • Merneith (American Pharoah o/o Flatter mare)
  • Exact Positions of Bold Ruler Linebreeding
    • Grade 2 Stakes Winners
      • Merneith (American Pharoah o/o Flatter mare)
      • New and Improved (Cairo Prince o/o Giant’s Causeway mare)
    • Grade 3 Stakes Winners
      • Dean Martini (Cairo Prince o/o Friend’s Lake mare)
      • Cairo Cat (Cairo Prince o/o Tale of the Cat mare)
    • 8 Listed Stakes Winners
  • Exact Positions of Secretariat Linebreeding
    • Grade 1 Stakes Winners
      • Vequist (Nyquist o/o Mineshaft mare)
      • Hunter O’riley (Tiz Wonderful o/o Bernardini mare)
      • Lunar Fox (Foxwedge o/o Malibu Moon mare)
      • Gretsky The Great (Nyquist o/o Bernardini mare)
    • Grade 2 Stakes Winner
      • Merneith (American Pharoah o/o Flatter mare)
    • 7 Listed Stakes Winners
  • Exact Positions of Raise A Native linebreeding
    • Grade 1 Stakes Winner
      • Vequist (Nyquist o/o Mineshaft mare)
    • Grade 3 Stakes Winners
      • Size (First Samurai o/o Pulpit mare)
      • Deballatio (Smart Missile o/o Flying Spur mare)
      • Dixie Serenade (Uptowncharlybrown o/o Malibu Moon mare)
      • Cutting Humor (First Samurai o/o Pulpit mare)
      • Pirate’s Punch (Shanghai Bobby o/o Malibu Moon mare)
    • 13 Listed Stakes Winners
  • Exact Positions of Buckpasser Linebreeding
    • 2 Listed Stakes Winners
  • Pioneerof the Nile over A.P. Indy
    • 1 Grade 1 Stakes Winner
    • 3 Grade 2 Stakes Winner
    • 6 Grade 3 Stakes Winner
    • 10 Listed Stakes Winners
  • Empire Maker over A.P. Indy
    • 4 Grade 1 Stakes Winner
    • 4 Grade 2 Stakes Winner
    • 11 Grade 3 Stakes Winner
    • 15 Listed Stakes Winners
  • Empire Maker over Runaway Groom
    • 1 Grade 3 Stakes Winner
    • 3 Listed Stakes Winners


Whether you are new to the game, experiencing more losses than wins or just looking for a new approach, I am confident that I can help you breed or buy a better racehorse. To find out more about OPTIMAL Matings and how they can help your program, please subscribe to my Blog/News page HERE to receive future information on complimentary mating recommendations, sales short lists, stakes winner pedigree analysis, news on personal client success and any other random thoughts or ideas that I may have. Also, receive a complimentary copy of my report “Blind Luck or Designed Luck? – How A Kentucky Derby Winner Was Bred” sent directly to your inbox.

For inquiries or more information about Shepherd Equine Advisers, please contact Clark Shepherd at 859-321-6618, or by email at

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I offer my expertise as a bloodstock agent, sales consultant, and pedigree analyst to assist in breeding or purchasing superior thoroughbred racehorses through sound pedigree principles, horsemanship, and consistent implementation of well-designed plans. To find out more about how my services can help your program, please contact me at 859-321-6618, or by email at

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