Mendelssohn (horse)

Mendelssohn (foaled 17 May 2015) is an American-bred Thoroughbred racehorse, trained by Aidan O'Brien, who won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf in 2017. In March 2018, he won the UAE Derby by over 18 lengths, making him one of the favorites for the 2018 Kentucky Derby. After he finished last in that race, Mendelssohn finished third in the Jim Dandy and second in the Travers Stakes, taking his career earnings over $2 million.

Mendelssohn (42190508042).jpg
Mendelssohn training before the Kentucky Derby.
SireScat Daddy
DamLeslie's Lady
DamsireTricky Creek
Foaled17 May 2015[1]
CountryUnited States
BreederClarkland Farm
OwnerMichael Tabor, Derrick Smith & Sue Magnier
TrainerAidan O'Brien
Record13: 4-2-2
Major wins
Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (2017)
Patton Stakes (2018)
UAE Derby (2018)
Last updated on 26 August 2018


Mendelssohn is a bay colt bred in the United States by Clarkland Farm, owned by Fred and Nancy Mitchell. He was part of the final foal crop sired by Champagne Stakes and Florida Derby winner Scat Daddy. He is out of the 2016 Kentucky Broodmare of the Year, Leslie's Lady, making him a half-brother to the champion mare, Beholder. Leslie's Lady, a listed stakes winner, is also the dam of Into Mischief a well-regarded American sire.[3][4] Leslie's Lady had been bred to Scat Daddy early in 2014 but lost that pregnancy due to the stress related to the illness of her 2013 foal, who died after only three months. Leslie's Lady was bred back to Scat Daddy in late May 2014 and produced Mendelssohn on 17 May 2015.[5]

As a yearling, Mendelssohn topped the 2016 Keeneland September Yearling Sale with a price of $3 million, making him the most expensive yearling sold at public auction in North America that year.[6] The high price was the result of a bidding duel between Spendthrift Farm, which had raced Beholder, and Coolmore Stud, which was looking for a replacement for Scat Daddy.[5] The colt was sent across the Atlantic and placed into training with Aidan O'Brien at Ballydoyle. The colt's registered ownership has changed several times, but he has always been owned by a combination of Coolmore partners Derrick Smith, Michael Tabor and Susan Magnier, or one of them individually.[1]

Racing careerEdit

2017: two-year-old seasonEdit

Mendelssohn made his racing debut in a seven furlong maiden race at The Curragh on 15 July 2017. Ridden by Wayne Lordan, the horse was one of three horses entered by the stable, and finished a moderate eighth behind stablemate The Pentagon at odds of 10/1.[7] The following month, the colt was sent off as the favourite and won another maiden race over the same course. Ryan Moore rode, and despite edging left inside the final furlong, Mendelssohn won comfortably by a length over Andesh.[8] Later, O'Brien would comment that the horse was very green in both races, and revealed he was schooled with blinkers during work.[9]

For his next race, Mendelssohn was sent to the Group 2 Champagne Stakes at Doncaster on 16 September. Again ridden by Moore, he went off at odds of 9/1, but finished well beaten, a distant last behind O'Brien's other runner, Seahenge.[10] Off the back of this run, he was the least fancied of four O'Brien runners in the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes on 14 October at Newmarket. The O'Brien horses filled the first four places, and Mendelssohn finished second, two and a half lengths behind winner US Navy Flag.[11]

Silks of Derrick Smith of Coolmore

Mendelssohn then was shipped to the US, and closed his two-year-old season with his second win, and first at the Grade I level, winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at Del Mar under Ryan Moore.[12] He was quick away from post position one and settled in third behind Sands Of Mali, trained by Richard Fahey, and the California-trained Flameaway. Into the home turn, Mendelssohn responded as Moore moved out and around Sands Of Mali to open up a two-length lead. The chasers cut into the lead in the closing stages, but Mendelssohn stayed on to win by a length. "He's a big, raw horse still and he'll improve with racing and experience," said Moore afterwards.[9]

As Mendelssohn has a strong dirt pedigree, O'Brien indicated that the Kentucky Derby was a potential consideration, especially given the creation of a European option on the 2018 Road to the Kentucky Derby.[13] Owner Michael Tabor also suggested Mendelssohn could ultimately replace his late sire on the Coolmore stallion register.[9]

In the Cartier Racing Awards for 2017, Mendelssohn was one of four nominees for the title of Champion Two-year-old Colt,[14] but lost out to U S Navy Flag.[15]

2018: three-year-old seasonEdit


Mendelssohn made his three-year-old debut on 9 March 2018 in the Patton Stakes over Dundalk's polytrack surface where he went off as the even money favorite. He tracked the pace in third place behind stablemates Threefourpence and Seahenge, then moved to the lead in the stretch to win by three-quarters of a length. O'Brien was pleased with the colt's physical and mental progress, and announced that the UAE Derby in Dubai would be his next start. "Hopefully then we can look at [the Kentucky Derby]," he said, "but obviously we have to run a big race in Dubai and go on from there but that is what we would be hoping to do. There is plenty of dirt in his pedigree and as we saw he is a good traveler and very good physically."[16]

On 31 March, Mendelssohn entered the UAE Derby, making his first start on a natural dirt surface and his first start at a distance of over a mile. He broke quickly and moved to the lead, then set a steady pace down the backstretch before starting to open a gap on the field around the far turn. Mendelssohn eventually won by ​18 12 lengths in a "jaw-dropping" performance while breaking the Meydan track record for 1900 metres (roughly 9.5 furlongs) by over a second. Moore said the colt was still learning and a "bit green in places", and could still get better.[17] The performance earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 106 and moved Mendelssohn to number three on Steve Haskin's "Derby Dozen" for April 3.[18]

Mendelssohn entered the 2018 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 5 as the 6.80-1 third choice in the parimutuel betting. However, Mendelssohn became seriously agitated in the walk over from the stable area to the saddling enclosure and again during the post parade. O'Brien attributed this to a lack of preparation combined with the colt's immaturity. "We weren’t prepared for the level of atmosphere. There were around 170,000 people; all wet; all screaming. There was rain coming from everywhere and everyone was drowned... I cannot explain it to you. There were people and creatures everywhere and he was mind-blown by the whole thing."[19] Starting from post position 14 in a field of 20, Moore knew the start was critical in order to get good position going into the first turn. Mendelssohn broke relatively well but was hit hard after a few strides by Magnum Moon, who broke in from post position 16. Mendelssohn settled and improved his position to sixth place as the passed the finish line for the first time. However, he was repeatedly bumped then had to check strides entering the first turn. He dropped back to ninth, where he experienced heavy kickback from the horses in front splashing over the muddy track surface. After three-quarters of a mile, Moore realized the colt had no chance and decided to ease him. Mendelssohn finished last, some 70 lengths behind Justify.[19][20]


Despite the loss, O'Brien remained positive about the colt's competitiveness on dirt, with a goal of winning the Breeders' Cup Classic in November. Mendelssohn was given some time off then returned in the Dwyer Stakes on July 7 at Belmont Park. Mendelssohn went to the early lead but faded in the stretch to finish third behind Firenze Fire.[21] T.J. Comerford, O'Brien's assistant trainer, felt that the race was a stepping stone in preparing the colt for the North American style of racing.[22] Mendelssohn also may not have been at his best due to a virus that affected O'Brien's stable over the early summer.[23]

Mendelssohn made his next start on August 25 in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course in upstate New York. Although the "Midsummer Derby" was missing Justify, who had been retired due to injury, the field was considered highly competitive, led by Good Magic (Haskell Invitational), Canadian filly Wonder Gadot (Queen's Plate), Gronkowski (second in the Belmont Stakes), Bravazo (second in the Preakness) and Catholic Boy (Belmont Derby Invitational).[24] Dismissed at odds of 13-1, Mendelssohn went to the early lead, where he was joined by Catholic Boy. The two raced side by side for the first mile until Catholic Boy pulled away to win by four lengths. Mendelssohn hung on to finish second, a length in front of Bravazo.[25] Mendelssohn's share of the purse took his career earnings to US$2.2 million.[2]


Mendelssohn at the 2018 Breeders' Cup

In the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park on 29 September Mendelssohn was matched against older horses and started the 4.3/1 second favourite. He was among the leaders from the start and kept on well in the straight to finish third behind Discreet Lover and Thunder Snow, beaten two lengths by the winner. On 3 November Mendelssohn was one of six three-year-old colts in a fourteen-runner field which contested the Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs. After setting the pace he led the field into the straight but was overtaken approaching the final furlong and came home fifth behind Accelerate, Gunnevera, Thunder Snow and Yoshida, beaten two and a quarter lengths behind the winner. He was the first three-year-old to finish and the horses coming home behind included West Coast, Discreet Lover, Catholic Boy, Mind Your Biscuits, McKinzie (Pennsylvania Derby) and Roaring Lion.

Mendelssohn made his final start of the year in the Cigar Mile on 1 December, finishing fourth after tracking a fast early pace set by Patternrecognition. "I'm disappointed, but he ran well. He hasn't run a bad race. He's had a tough year with a lot of racing and a lot of flying back and forth," said Moore. "Unfortunately, he hasn't been able to get it done. We'll see what the plan is, but I think there's more in there."[26] Less than two days later it was announced that the colt had been retired from racing and would stand as a breeding stallion at the Ashford Stud.[27]


Pedigree of Mendelssohn (USA), bay stallion, 2015[28]
Scat Daddy
Johannesburg Hennessy Storm Cat
Island Kitty
Myth Ogygian
Love Style Mr Prospector Raise A Native
Gold Digger
Likeable Style Nijinsky II
Personable Lady
Leslie's Lady
Tricky Creek Clever Trick Icecapade
Kankakee Miss
Battle Creek Girl His Majesty
Far Beyond
Crystal Lady Stop The Music Hail To Reason
One Last Bird One For All
Last Bird


  1. ^ a b "Profile: Horse - Mendelssohn". Racing Post. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Mendelssohn |Equibase Profiles". Retrieved 26 August 2018.
  3. ^ "Mendelssohn scores more Grade 1 success for late Scat Daddy". Racing Post. Archived from the original on 7 November 2017. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  4. ^ "Leslie's Lady Named 2016 Broodmare of the Year". Retrieved 7 November 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Tales from the Crib: Mendelssohn". Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  6. ^ "Horse: Mendelssohn". Breeders Cup. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  7. ^ "Full Result: 3.10 Curragh 15 Jul 2017". Racing Post. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  8. ^ "Full Result: 2.30 Curragh 13 Aug 2017". Racing Post. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  9. ^ a b c Wood, Greg (4 November 2017). "Aidan O'Brien extends record as Mendelssohn wins Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  10. ^ "Full Result: 3.00 Doncaster 16 Sep 2017". Racing Post. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  11. ^ "Full Result: 3.00 Newmarket 14 Oct 2017". Racing Post. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  12. ^ "Full Result: 10.50 Del Mar 3 Nov 2017". Racing Post. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  13. ^ "Mendelssohn one to watch for 2018 Kentucky Derby". Retrieved 17 November 2017.
  14. ^ "Nominees for the 2017 Cartier Racing Awards unveiled".
  15. ^ "Cartier Racing Awards 2017: Enable named Horse of the Year". BBC. 14 November 2017.
  16. ^ "Mendelssohn Returns With Patton Stakes Victory". Retrieved 9 March 2018.
  17. ^ "Mendelssohn enjoys perfect Kentucky Derby warm-up in Dubai". The Irish Times. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  18. ^ Haskin, Steve. "Derby Dozen - April 3, 2018". Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  19. ^ a b "Ten things that Aidan O'Brien learnt from the Kentucky Derby". Racing UK. Retrieved 26 August 2018.
  20. ^ "Chart of the 2018 Kentucky Derby". Retrieved 26 August 2018.
  21. ^ "Firenze Fire Dominant in Dwyer Stakes". Retrieved 26 August 2018.
  22. ^ "Regally Bred Mendelssohn is Travers Stakes Wild Card". Retrieved 26 August 2018.
  23. ^ O'Connor, Brian. "O'Brien team bounces back with six weekend winners at the Curragh". The Irish Times. Retrieved 26 August 2018.
  24. ^ Genaro, Teresa. "Travers Stakes 2018: Post Positions And Morning Line Odds". Forbes. Retrieved 26 August 2018.
  25. ^ "Versatile Catholic Boy Soars Clear in Travers". Retrieved 26 August 2018.
  26. ^ "Patternrecognition Wins Cigar Mile". Retrieved 2 December 2018.
  27. ^ Dietz, Andrew (3 December 2018). "Coolmore's US star Mendelssohn retired to stud after Cigar Mile fourth". Racing Post.
  28. ^ "Mendelssohn Pedigree". Equineline. Retrieved 6 November 2017.

External linksEdit