Once the subject of great popular interest, match races have dropped out of favor with American racing fans since the tragic outcome of Ruffian's match race against Foolish Pleasure in 1975. Who were the participants in the last major match race held in North America prior to that event, and what was the outcome?
There is not much doubt as to the identity of the best horse in Canada right now. A three-time Sovereign Award winner as champion female turf horse and the reigning Canadian Horse of the Year, Starship Jubilee signaled her determination to hold on to her throne by turning back the males in the Ricoh Woodbine Mile (CAN-G1). The victory was her second in a Grade 1 race, her fourth in five 2020 starts, and her 19th from 38 lifetime starts. As a "Win and You're In" race for the FanDuel Breeders' Cup Mile (USA-G1), the Woodbine Mile also punched Starship Jubilee's ticket to the biggest day in American racing.
In spite of her proven prowess, Starship Jubilee will not likely be a favorite for the Breeders' Cup Mile, which will almost certainly draw a much deeper field than she conquered at Woodbine. That being said, she will still go in with a real chance---heady stuff for a Florida-bred who was plucked out of a claiming race for US$16,000 three years ago.
Florida does not have the breeding market now that it did when In Reality, Dr. Fager, and Mr. Prospector were holding court there in the 1970s. As in other regional markets, its stallions tend to be either good racehorses with unfashionable pedigrees or well-bred underperformers who are getting a chance at stud because of their bloodlines; likewise, the mare base is plebeian compared to that found amid the great Kentucky farms.
As might be expected from the "Florida-bred" label, Starship Jubilee's immediate parentage is relatively modest. Her sire Indy Wind won five stakes races but none in graded company, and her dam Perfectly Wild never made it to the track at all. But behind them stand some very good horses. Although Indy Wind could not get enough traction to maintain a place in Florida and ended up moving to Ohio, he is by 1992 American Horse of the Year and two-time American champion sire A.P. Indy, boasts French Classic winner and important sire Kingmambo as a broodmare sire, and is out of a daughter of 1978 American champion older female Late Bloomer.
Perfectly Wild, too, has good pedigree connections. Her sire, multiple Grade 3 winner Forest Wildcat (by Storm Cat) proved a good speed sire, and his Grade 1-winning son Wildcat Heir was a perennial leading sire in Florida. As for her dam, she was 1995 Queen Elizabeth II Invitational Challenge Cup Stakes (USA-G1) winner Perfect Arc, a very good grass filly who won 10 of 13 starts and was only unplaced once during her racing career.
Like her granddaughter, Perfect Arc was much the best runner sired by a beautifully-bred underachiever, though one with less racing credentials than Indy Wind. In her case, the sire was the Alleged horse Brown Arc, a full brother to 1988 Prix du Jockey Club Lancia (French Derby, FR-G1) winner Hours After and a half brother to 1975 Belmont Stakes (USA-G1) winner Avatar, 1972 Charles H. Strub Stakes winner Unconscious, and multiple Group 2 winner Monseigneur. In her racing talent, Perfect Arc was much closer to her dam Podeica, an Argentine import who had a rather indifferent pedigree but established the family tradition by winning the 1987 Polla de Potrancas (Argentine One Thousand Guineas, ARG-G1) and placing in three Group 1 races including a second in the 1987 Gran Premio Selección (Argentine Oaks, ARG-G1).
Perfect Arc was by far the best of Podeica's four American-bred foals (though all were winners), and she herself was a great disappointment as a broodmare, producing only three minor winners from eight named foals. Perfectly Wild was her only producing daughter and has produced two stakes-placed runners in addition to Starship Jubilee.
Only one of Perfectly Wild's daughters has produced a foal to date, and Perfect Berry (by world record setter and multiple Grade 3 winner Mr. Light) has only one foal, the unraced 2016 colt Perfect Risk. This means that the perpetuation of this female line will most likely rest with Starship Jubilee, whose offbeat pedigree will undoubtedly be overlooked in favor of her excellent race record when it comes to her potential partners in the breeding shed. While she is a reminder of the fact that a good racehorse can come from anywhere, she is also a reminder of the fact that most of those who do come from less than stellar backgrounds usually have good horses close up in their backgrounds, providing some depth to their genetic pools and a chance that one mating will catch lightning in a bottle. In Starship Jubilee's case, the spark was there, and it remains to be seen whether she can pass that spark on consistently or if she will be another in her family's list of one-hit wonders.
What Claiborne Farm stallion had the unusual habit of banging his head against the walls of his stall when bored?
On September 13, Search for a Song won her second edition of the Comer Group International Irish St. Leger (IRE-G1). Earlier on the same card, Thunder Moon won the Goffs Vincent O'Brien National Stakes (IRE-G1). The connecting link between the two? Both are descended from Trusted Partner, one of a group of horses descended from a happy marriage between the great Affirmed and 1973 American champion 2-year-old filly Talking Picture.
Sired by Speak John from the Nasrullah mare Poster Girl (and, thus, a half sister to the stakes-winning Round Table horse Illustrious), Talking Picture won four graded stakes races at two including the Matron Stakes (USA-G1) and the Spinaway Stakes (USA-G1). She did not train on as well as hoped at 3, but as a champion racer from the female family of the great broodmare-producing line of Bourtai, she had all the credentials needed for access to the best stallions of the breed.
Three named foals by Hoist the Flag and Sir Ivor failed to achieve any note, but when Talking Picture was put to Affirmed after slipping her 1980 foal, it proved a match made in heaven. The resulting filly was Easy to Copy, a Group 2 winner in Italy and the dam of multiple Irish Group 3 winner Two-Twenty-Two (by Fairy King) and listed stakes winners Easy Definition (by Alzao) and Desert Ease (by Green Desert. Easy to Copy is also the second dam of Grade 2 winners Amira's Prince and Easy 'n Gold and the third dam of multiple Group 1 winner Gallante.
After a barren year in 1982, Talking Picture produced another Affirmed filly in 1983. This was Epicure's Garden, an Irish listed stakes winner who placed in three Group 3 races. She is the dam of multiple Grade/Group 2 winner Lisieux Rose (by Generous), the second dam of English Group 2 winner Forgotten Rules, and the third dam of 2019 Gran Premio Enrique Ayulo Pardo (PER-G1) winner Toffee.
Talking Picture produced an unmemorable colt by Super Concorde before producing her third Affirmed filly, and this one was even better than her older sisters. Named Trusted Partner, she was an Irish Group 3 winner at 2. At 3, she became a Classic winner by taking the Goffs Irish One Thousand Guineas (IRE-G1). She produced only one stakes winner but was hardly a disappointment as a producer, for her stakes-winning daughter was 2002 Matriarch Stakes (USA-G1) winner Dress to Thrill (by Danehill).
Dress to Thrill has had little impact as a producer, but other daughters of Trusted Partner have made up for her failings. Dress to Thrill's winning full sister Polished Luck is the dam of six stakes winners (five at the Group level) including Search for a Song (by Galileo) and 2015 Prince of Wales's Stakes (ENG-G1) winner Free Eagle (by High Chaparral). Another winning daughter of Trusted Partner, Trust in Luck (by Nashwan), is the second dam of Thunder Moon (a son of Zoffany), 2014 Criterium International (FR-G1) winner Vert de Grece and English Group 3 winner Love Lockdown.
Talking Picture produced five foals by other sires before her next date with Affirmed. The best on the track was the stakes-winning Saratoga Six colt Guaranteed Income, whose full sister Separate Issue is the third dam of the popular California filly Enola Gray, a Grade 3 winner.
Talking Picture's last three foals were all fillies by Affirmed, beginning with Group 1-placed Grade 3 winner Low Key Affair, a mare who unfortunately had no issue. The next was unraced Movie Legend, dam of three listed-placed runners, and Talking Picture ended her producing career with listed stakes-placed Magical Cliche, whose best descendant thus far is her versatile granddaughter Uncaccompanied, a listed stakes winner on the flat and a multiple stakes winner over hurdles.
Why Talking Picture clicked so well with Affirmed and not with her other mates is a question for pedigree analysts to wrangle over, but the results of this pairing have been both beneficial and lasting. With any luck---and with continued access to good sires, the descendants of Talking Picture's daughters by Affirmed should be getting their pictures taken in winners' circles for years to come.
Sorry about the hangups in getting back with answers or a new trivia question, folks---I've been struggling with computer problems caused by a recent lightning strike. Here are the answers to the special Derby Oaks challenge posted on September 4:
1) Quaze Quilt, who shared her breeder (Fred Hooper), owner (Fred Hooper) and sire (Specialmante) with runner-up Special Team.
2) Perfect Gem, the dam of 1964 Kentucky Oaks winner Blue Norther, won a broodmare class at a Maryland horse show.
3) Amerivan was trained to her win in the 1965 Kentucky Oaks by her owner, Mary Kelm. Ms. Kelm also trained Mr. Pak, sixth in that year's Kentucky Derby.
4) Thomas McDowell had King's Daughter insured through Lloyds of London following her score in the 1906 Kentucky Oaks.
5) Miss Hawkins, the 1891 Kentucky Oaks winner, broke her maiden in an all-aged race for maidens against older males when she was a 2-year-old.
6) Black Gold, the 1924 Kentucky Derby winner, caused "The Great Runout" when bookies who had taken too many bets on him at a long price early in the year found themselves unable to pay off their bets and headed out of town ahead of their creditors.
7) Diane Crump was the first female jockey to ride in the Kentucky Derby and placed 15th on Fathom in the 1970 Derby. (In a nice touch, Churchill Downs observed the 50th anniversary of her ride by having her give the "Riders up!" call for the 2020 Kentucky Derby.)
8) The 1929 Kentucky Derby, won by Clyde Van Dusen, was the last to go off without a starting gate.
9) 1907 Kentucky Derby winner Pink Star had the lowest career earnings of any Kentucky Derby winner with US$5,750.
10) 1991 Kentucky Derby winner Strike the Gold was given the barn name of "Boyfriend" because of his friendly, playful nature.
Congrats to Frost, who got the answers to all five of the Derby questions!
While the honor of being selected as a Kentucky Broodmare of the Year says a lot about a mare's produce record at the time of the award, it says little about her long-term influence. Of the mares so honored fifty years ago or more, some, like Striking (1961) and Knight's Daughter (1959) have a record that is still evolving among top-level horses. Others, like Alpenstock III (1951) and Potheen (1947) are little remembered in spite of being important broodmares in their day. Most fall somewhere in between.
As the 2016 Kentucky Broodmare of the Year, Leslie's Lady is far too recent for her long-range influence to be assessed; in fact, she just produced another foal this past spring. Nonetheless, the Kentucky Derby victory of her grandson Authentic (sired by her son Into Mischief) on September 5 seems to suggest that this is a good time to take a closer look at this excellent producer and her prospects for the future.
Foaled in 1996, Leslie's Lady was not the sort of mare who would normally be expected to achieve lasting significance. She was sired by Tricky Creek, a multiple Grade 2 winner but an indifferent sire who ended up in New Mexico after originally standing in Kentucky and then California. Sired by the speedy Clever Trick, a useful sire son of the fine stallion Icecapade, he was one of six stakes winners produced from the excellent broodmare Battle Creek Girl, a granddaughter of Darby Dan foundation mare Soaring.
Leslie's Lady was produced from Crystal Lady, a winning daughter of the good racer and sire Stop the Music out of One Last Bird. The last-named mare was sired by 1971 Canadian champion grass horse One for All, a son of Northern Dancer. Perhaps more importantly, she was a granddaughter of Patelin, the ancestress of a fine family, and was related to a fair number of good broodmares. In fact, this is a recurrent theme in the pedigree of Leslie's Lady, for along with Tricky Creek and Crystal Lady, Stop the Music and One for All also came from strong female families.
On the track, Leslie's Lady proved a useful juvenile, winning four of nine starts and capturing the listed Hoosier Debutante Stakes. That was the best form she was to show. At 3, she won one of 12 starts, placed in three more races, and was second in the listed Martha Washington Stakes at Oaklawn Park. At four, she failed to win from seven starts and retired with a record of 5-3-2 from 28 starts. Strictly a sprinter, she earned a lifetime best Equineline speed figure of 100 as a 2-year-old but showed no form worth pursuing further the one time she was tried beyond sprint distances; she was also winless in eight starts on turf.
Leslie's Lady's pedigree and race record did not warrant sending her to top sires, and so her first two matings were with Marquetry and Orientate---both high-class racehorses but inconsistent as stallions. She produced winners by both before being mated to multiple Grade 1 winner Harlan's Holiday (by Harlan, by Storm Cat), then in his first year at stud, The result was Into Mischief, who won the 2007 CashCall Futurity (USA-G1) over what in retrospect was a very good field indeed, as two future Grade 1 winners and three future Grade 2 winners were among his beaten rivals.
Into Mischief didn't last long on the track, but he added another stakes win and a second in the Malibu Stakes (USA-G1) before retiring with three wins and three seconds from six starts. Multiple Grade 1 winner Goldencents, multiple Canadian champion Miss Mischief, and multiple Grade 2 winner Vyjack headed the seven stakes winners from 42 foals in his first crop, and from there he has climbed up the stallion ranks to become the American champion sire of 2019. Barring some major reverses, it looks likely that he will head the 2020 list as well, as Authentic just extended his lead over second-place Uncle Mo to nearly US$4.7 million.
Leslie's Lady then produced four fairly unmemorable foals, with the last of the group being a full brother to Into Mischief who couldn't get out of his own way on the track. Her unraced Orientate daughter Daisy Mason fared better when bred to Harlan's Holiday and produced Grade 3-placed stakes winner Harry's Holiday, making her the first daughter of Leslie's Lady to produce a stakes winner. Daisy Mason is also the dam of multiple Grade 3-placed Remedy (by the Grade 1-winning Giant's Causeway horse Creative Cause) and has an unraced juvenile Nyquist colt named Walker's Quist. Her most recent foal is a 2019 filly by Cairo Prince.
Five foals after producing Into Mischief, Leslie's Lady went to another Storm Cat-line stallion, Henny Hughes, and came up with a runner that made Into Mischief look like small potatoes. This was Beholder, the champion of her division at 2, 3, 5, and 6. Her streak of Eclipse Awards was broken at 4 due to an injury-shortened season, but not before she took the Zenyatta Stakes (USA-G1), which ended up helping make her the first horse since two-time American Horse of the Year John Henry to win a Grade 1 race in five consecutive seasons. Her swan song was a scintillating nose decision in the 2016 Breeders' Cup Distaff (USA-G1) over two-time American champion filly Songbird. Since her retirement, she has produced the unraced juvenile colt Q B One (by Uncle Mo), the 2019 Curlin filly Karin With an I, and the 2020 War Front filly Teena Ella, and with continued visits to the top stallions in the country, it will be a sad thing indeed if Beholder cannot come up with some good runners.
During the next four years, Leslie's Lady produced two named foals, neither of which ever won a race. She then visited the top stallion Scat Daddy, who comes from the same branch of the Storm Cat line as does Henny Hughes. The resulting colt was Mendelssohn, who in spite of quixotic handling of his racing career won the 2017 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (USA-G1) on grass and the 2018 UAE Derby (UAE-G2) on dirt as well as placing in three Grade 1 races. A US$3 million purchase for Coolmore as a yearling, Mendelssohn entered stud at Coolmore's Ashford Stud in Kentucky in 2019 and served 252 mares that season at an introductory fee of US$35,000.
Since being awarded Broodmare of the Year laurels, Leslie's Lady has given birth to a 2017 colt by Medaglia d'Oro that was never named, the unraced 2018 American Pharoah filly America's Joy (a record-breaking US$8.2 million Keeneland September yearling), the 2019 Not This Time filly Marr Time, and an unnamed 2020 filly by Kantharos. Any one of these three fillies could add a sparking coda to Leslie's Lady's produce record, and well after she herself is gone, her daughters will continue to receive every opportunity to expand her legacy. Whether she becomes one of the great matriarchs of the breed is still to be determined, but a top stallion, a great champion, and another Grade 1 winner have already combined to make her one of the more memorable members of a most elite club,
It's time once again for the special Kentucky Oaks/Derby trivia challenge, which comes in ten parts. Your challenge: Answer all ten questions before the Kentucky Derby's post time on Saturday,
1) Which Kentucky Oaks winner's victory was part of a 1-2 finish in the race for her breeder, her owner and her sire?
2) Pretty is as pretty does---this mare won a broodmare class at a horse show and also produced a Kentucky Oaks winner. Who was she, and who was her Oaks-winning daughter?
3) What woman trained both Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby starters in the same year, and how did she fare with her entries?
4) This Kentucky Oaks winner may well have been the first such winner insured through Lloyd's of London. Who was she, and in what year did she score the win that led to her owner having her insured?
5) Which Kentucky Oaks winner broke her maiden against older males?
6) Which Kentucky Derby renewal led to the event known as the "Great Runout"?
7) Who was the first female jockey to compete in the Kentucky Derby, and where did she finish?
8) Which Kentucky Derby was the last to go off without a starting gate?
9) What horse was the lowest-earning Kentucky Derby winner of all time?
10) Which Kentucky Derby winner had the barn name of "Boyfriend"?
According to the dictionary, valiance is the quality of being brave or heroic, making it a nicely ringing choice for the name of a Thoroughbred. That name received due honor on August 29, when the 4-year-old Tapit filly Valiance turned in a neat and professional victory in the Eatontown Handicap. The race, perhaps, was not particularly outstanding; after it was taken off the turf due to heavy rains at Monmouth, it lost both its Grade 3 status (pending review by the American Graded Stakes Committee) and all but five of its intended starters. Nonetheless, there is some amusement that in this case, virtue (as embodied in the winner) started out with an original sin.
Valiance belongs to the family of Instant Sin, a winning half sister to 1959 American champion older female Tempted. Bred for eight consecutive years to 1961 Futurity Stakes winner Cyane, the name produced some delightfully named offspring, among them stakes winner Misgivings, stakes-placed runners Menage a Trois and Canoodling, and Nimble Folly, who proved herself a first-rate broodmare.
Misgivings and Canoodling both produced stakes winners, but the best Menage a Trois could do was to come up with three runners who were stakes-placed in minor events. Both of her stakes-placed daughters improved on their dam's record, however, beginning with the Val de l'Orne mare Trois Cloches. Put to a series of modestly credentialed sires, she still managed to produce Peruvian Group 2 winner Fazel (by Fast Gold), Ecuadorean champion Azulako (by Desert Secret), and listed stakes winner Doctoressa (by Doc's Leader).
Sent to California and given a similar level of mates, Trois Cloches' cleverly named half sister Three Flights Up (by Topsider) also came up with more success than might be suggested by either her racing performance or her opportunities. Bred to Slewvescent, she produced Lazy Slusan, a two-time Grade 1 winner as a 6-year-old in 2001.
As a Grade 1 winner, Lazy Slusan got far better opportunities than her dam, and while she produced only one stakes winner, this was 2013 Madison Stakes (USA-G1) winner Last Full Measure (by Empire Maker), dam of Valiance and of Harbor Bay, a 2018 Exaggerator colt currently working in a promising manner toward his first start. Last Full Measure last produced a 2019 Mastery filly and was bred to Constitution for 2021. Lazy Slusan may see further good things happening through her After Market daughter Humor Section, who is the dam of listed stakes winner Monkeys Uncle (by Uncle Mo) and has a 2019 Bernardini filly and a 2020 Uncle Mo colt waiting in the wings.
While the family of Instant Sin has not been spectacular, it has shown the happy quality of being able to outbreed its mates when not fashionable and to deliver on better opportunities when they arrive. And that, in Thoroughbred circles, is no sin at all.
Fanfreluche needs little introduction to those familiar with Canadian racing and breeding. The 1970 Canadian Horse of the Year and that year's champion 3-year-old filly in both Canada and the United States, she went on to great success as a broodmare. Her five stakes winners included three Canadian champions, and her many daughters have continued to extend her family.
One of those daughters is La Pepite, whose sire Mr. Prospector also sired Grade 2-placed Lode (a champion sire in Argentina) and stakes winner Smackover Creek from Fanfreluche's stakes-winning daughter Grand Luxe (by Sir Ivor). La Pepite boasted no such credentials as a racer, placing twice from six starts, but she did fairly well as a broodmare, producing six winners from nine named foals.
Easily the best of those stakes winners was Soldera (by the good Maryland sire Polish Numbers), who won a listed stakes in England as a 3-year-old and was Group 2-placed. Her racing accomplishments plus her pedigree and a reasonably nice physical makeup made her an attractive broodmare prospect, and she sold for US$600,000 to Wertheimer et Frere at the 2004 Keeneland November mixed sale.
The Wertheimer brothers' investment paid off with Soldera's second foal, a 2007 colt by Maria's Mon. Named Exhi, he won the 2010 Coolmore Lexington Stakes (USA-G2), the 2011 Ben Ali Stakes (USA-G3), and three other races, earning $807,917. He cut no mustard as a sire, however, and in 2018 suffered the indignity of being sold for US$1,000 at the Keeneland November mixed sale. (He was at least more fortunate than some low-end horses, finding a home at Big Oaks Farm in Arizona, where he stood the 2020 season for a private fee.)
Soldera has since produced a second stakes winner as her gelded son Diluvien (by Manduro) won a listed stakes in France last year, but it is her daughter Soldata (a winning full sister to Exhi) who may be pointing the way to the future of La Pepite's branch of Fanfreluche's family. Already the dam of 2018 Prix Dollar (FR-G2) winner Alignement (by Pivotal), she added another credit to her record this week via her daughter Alda, who following up on earning Thoroughbred Daily News "Rising Star" status in her second start by winning the listed Catch a Glimpse Stakes at Woodbine.
A daughter of Munnings, Alda showed a strong closing kick and equally strong determination in nailing favored Dreaming of Drew at the wire, and those traits should stand her in good stead in her likely next start, the Natalma Stakes (CAN-G1) on September 20. In the meantime, her dam has the yearling Into Mischief colt Serifos and the weanling Tapit colt Dataman in the pipeline, both youngsters with the potential to add some more trimming to a well-ornamented family.
After a bad fall, this colt was given a very special treatment---he had a prominent equine acupuncturist flown in to attend to him. Within 24 hours of his unconventional treatment, he had recovered so well that he won an important stakes race and later in the season became the winner of an American Triple Crown race and a champion. Who was he?
I'm Avalyn Hunter, an author, pedigree researcher and longtime racing fan.