Rescues and retirement operations have been a much-needed refuge for Thoroughbreds in need of homes after completing their racing and/or breeding careers, and they have been around a lot longer than many people realize. Who was the first Kentucky Derby to live out his days in the care of such an organization?
With the proliferation of North American-bred stallions appearing in South American pedigrees during the last few decades, it was only a matter of time before top North American female families started migrating south as well. One of those families turned up in Argentina last weekend, when Dona True won the Premio Condesa (ARG-III) at San Isidro. Bred by Haras La Layenda after being imported to Argentina in utero, the 4-year-old daughter of Yes It's True traces her female lineage to one of the Phipps family's matriarchs, Blitey.
Blitey has already had a substantial impact in Chile through her Alydar daughter Home Leave, dam of the Polish Navy mare Weekend Leave. Exported to Haras Paso Nevado in Chile, Weekend Leave produced 2004/2005 Chilean champion 3-year-old male We Can Seek and 2007/2008 Chilean champion 3-year-old filly Weekend Trip, both by the Gone West horse Seeker's Reward. Weekend Leave also produced We Can Leave, a stakes-winning full sister to her champions who in turn produced 2015/2016 Chilean champion 3-year-old filly Wapi (by Powerscourt). Wapi brought the history of this branch of the family full circle by being imported to the United States, where she produced colts by Curlin and Gun Runner before dying of colic in July 2019, but We Can Leave and Weekend Leave both have other Chilean-bred daughters to continue the family in that country.
In Argentina, Blitey's previous influence has been on the sire's side of pedigrees via her great-grandson Pure Prize. A son of Storm Cat out of 1994 American champion 3-year-old filly Heavenly Prize (Seeking the Gold x Oh What a Dance, by Nijinsky II x Blitey), Pure Prize was a Grade II winner in the United States before heading to Argentina, where he has been champion sire twice. His best American-bred runner is Pure Clan, a multiple Grade I winner.
Dona True traces to Blitey through another daughter, the Mr. Prospector mare Fantastic Find. The winner of the 1990 Hempstead Handicap (USA-I), Fantastic Find produced multiple Grade I winner Finder's Fee (by Storm Cat) and the good steeplechaser Tax Ruling (by Dynaformer) and is the second dam of Grade II winner T. D. Vance and multiple Grade III winner Optimizer. Her 2001 Dixieland Band filly Grand Gala did not accomplish much as a racer or broodmare, but her 2010 Tiznow daughter Curly Sue produced Dona True as her first foal. She has since produced Argentine-bred fillies by the El Prado horse Cosmic and by the Bernstein horse Storm Embrujado.
Horse racing and breeding has always been an international business, and Blitey's family simply represents a trend that has been going on for some time. While the increased influx of North American bloodlines into South America has diminished the outcross potential of these genetic pools with regard to one another, it has at the same time produced some top performers on both sides of the equator as well as a lively import/export market going both ways. Whether Dona True can help establish a branch of her distinguished family in Argentina is as yet unknown, but one thing is certain---as the trade in Thoroughbreds continues between north and south, there will be more to follow in her hoof prints.
This grandsire---sire---son series of Horse of the Year honorees had books written about them by the same author. Not all of them earned their Horse of the Year titles in the same country, but all are members of the same country's Hall of Fame. Name them and their biographer.
Miss Carmie was a mare who defied predictions. Sired by 1961 American champion turf horse T. V. Lark out of the Ponder mare Twice Over, she was bred for stamina and durability. Instead, she became a stakes-winning juvenile and raced only 11 times. Bred to fairly moderate stallions during the first part of her broodmare career, she came up with two stakes winners, one of them a champion---then proceeded to disappoint when bred to a series of high-end sires. Her quirks as a racer and producer may have been frustrating at times, but nonetheless, she stands at the head of a modern family that came up with yet another top performer on August 31 in Perfect Alibi, winner of the Spinaway Stakes (USA-I).
Chris Evert, Miss Carmie's second foal, was sired by the high-class racer but moderate sire Swoon's Son. Named for the women's tennis champion, who was endorsing a line of sportswear for owner Carl Rosen, Chris Evert proved as classy as her human counterpart, earning a championship at 3 and ranking near the top of the tree at 2 and 4. Plagued by reproductive issues, she produced only two minor stakes winners from five foals but is the second dam of the American champion juvenile and fine sire Chief's Crown. She is also the second dam of multiple Grade I winner Classic Crown, 1997 Sharp Electronics Cup (SAF-I) winner Lambent Light and Grade II winner Revasser, and is the third dam of multiple Grade I winner Sightseek, 2003 Yellow Ribbon Stakes (USA-IT) winner Tates Creek, 2003 Prix de la Foret (FR-I) winner Etoile Montante, Chilean Group II winner Quiet Call and Grade II winner Bowman's Band.
Miss Carmie's other stakes winner is All Rainbows, a Bold Hour mare who won three stakes races and was Grade I-placed. All Rainbows is best known as the dam of 1988 American champion 3-year-old filly Winning Colors (by Caro), one of only three fillies to win the Kentucky Derby (USA-I). She is also the second dam of 2003 Japan Cup (JPN-I) winner Tap Dance City and the third dam of French Group III winner Indian Maiden.
None of Miss Carmie's other six daughters came close to their elder sisters' ability as race mares, but all six became stakes producers, three of them at the Grade I level. Among them is Missed the Wedding, a Blushing Groom daughter whose first foal is 1993 Test Stakes (USA-I) winner Missed the Storm (by Storm Cat), second dam of Argentine Group II winner Global Big.
Missed the Wedding also produced multiple Grade III winner Green Means Go (by Green Dancer). She has bred on through her winning Storm Cat daughter Every Cloud, dam of multiple Grade III winner Cloud Scapes (by Smart Strike) and through her Kris S. daughter Rumors Are Flying, dam of stakes winner No Use Denying (by Maria's Mon). No Use Denying is the dam of Perfect Alibi (a daughter of Sky Mesa), and Rumors Are Flying is also the dam of stakes-placed Happy Choice (by Broken Vow), dam of stakes winner Happy Mesa (by Sky Mesa).
Perfect Alibi has much to do yet if she is to come up to the level of the champions produced by this family, but with two graded stakes wins to her credit at the Saratoga meeting, she is off to a most promising start. As for Miss Carmie, she needs no alibis for her accomplishments, for all have been gained through her merits and those of her descendants.
While we're waiting to see if Florida blows away over the next few days, here's a question regarding bananas (which is a pretty good description of the mental state of anyone ignoring evacuation orders right now). While most horses have a soft spot for apples, this mighty champion apparently liked a taste of the tropics and snacked on bananas if he had the chance. They certainly didn't hurt his weightlifting ability as he won 13 times with 130 pounds or more aboard. Who was he?
When Colonel E. R. Bradley died, most of his bloodstock ended up being divided between Greentree Stud, the King Ranch, and Ogden Phipps. All benefited considerably in the division, which distributed the priceless daughters and granddaughters of the great matron La Troienne among some of the nation's top breeders, but the Phipps family probably came out best. In no small part, this was due to the descendants of Striking, a full sister to 1945 Horse of the Year Busher who became the 1961 Kentucky Broodmare of the Year.
Many of Striking's descendants were given baseball-related names, among them her granddaughter Stolen Base. Sired by French champion Herbager, Stolen Base was not a top-class racer, although she placed in six black-type events. She proved a first-rate broodmare, however, and established a branch of her family which leads to Come Dancing, winner of the Ketel One Ballerina Stakes (USA-I) at this year's Saratoga meeting.
Most broodmares are most productive during the first half of their producing careers, but Stolen Base reversed that pattern. After throwing just one stakes-placed runner from her first four foals, she was culled from the Phipps broodmare band and was sold to Frances Genter. For her new owner, Stolen Base came up with four stakes winners from her final five foals. The Buckpasser colt Ask Clarence (who was sold to Mrs. Genter in utero) and his half brother Passing Base (by In Reality) had little long-term significance, but Dont Worry Bout Me (by Foolish Pleasure) produced multiple Grade III winner Cowboy Cop (by Silver Deputy) and multiple stakes winner I'll Get Along (by Smile), dam of 2004 American champion 3-year-old male Smarty Jones (by Elusive Quality).
The best of Stolen Base's runners was Basie, an In Reality filly who scored her signature win in the 1985 Delaware Handicap (USA-I) at Saratoga. Basie produced just one foal of any real significance, the Fappiano mare Jeano, who won five stakes races including the 1993 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (USA-III) . This mare proved a disappointing producer of runners and, after passing through several hands, ended up selling in foal to Alphabet Soup at the 2009 Ocala Breeders' Sales October mixed sale for just US$5,000.
As it turned out, Jeano was a better producer of broodmares than of racehorses. She is the second dam of five stakes winners, and two of her daughters produced graded stakes winners: Contrive (by Storm Cat), dam of 2005 American champion 2-year-old filly Folklore (by Tiznow), and Never a No Hitter (by Kris S.), dam of Demoiselle Stakes (USA-II) winner Tizahit (by Tiznow), who in turn produced Come Dancing (a daughter of Malibu Moon) as her third foal.
While the mating that produced Come Dancing is an outcross to the 4x4 In Reality inbreeding found in her dam, it shows duplications of 3x5 to Seattle Slew and to Mr. Prospector, stallions who trace back to the same matriarch (Myrtlewood). Tizahit's most recent foal is a 2018 full brother to Come Dancing, and it will be interesting to see if the same combination works a second time. In the meantime, one can hardly argue with the results already obtained, which would be a home run in anyone's ballpark.
This Kentucky Derby and Travers Stakes winner faced a grand total of three opponents in these two important races. Who was he?
In a tumultuous American racing year in which multiple Eclipse Award divisions lack a clear leader, the latest horse to step into the ring as a possible contender for year-end honors is Higher Power, who scored a visually impressive victory in the $1 Million TVG Pacific Classic (USA-I). The field he defeated was solid rather than stellar, but this may well be one of those seasons in which two or three marquee wins at the right time are enough to catch voters' attention.
Higher Power is the latest star for a family developed by Pin Oak Stud from its foundation mare, Take a Stand. A winning half sister by Amerigo to stakes winners Dun-Cee (by Dunce) and Controlled Landing (by First Landing), Take a Stand had a satisfactory production record in her own right, throwing French Group III winner French Friend (by Herbager) and multiple stakes winner Stage Luck (by Stage Door Johnny). Stage Luck, in turn produced two-time American champion filly Open Mind and two other stakes winners.
Pin Oak did not retain Stage Luck, but the stud did keep her older half sister, stakes-placed Strike a Pose (by Iron Ruler). In the tradition of her dam and granddam, Strike a Pose also came up with two stakes winners, the gelding Tonka Wakhan (by Big Spruce) and Wedding Picture, a daughter of Blushing Groom. In due time, Wedding Picture joined the Pin Oak broodmare band and produced four stakes winners, headed by Grade III winner Winged Victory (by Nijinsky II). She is also the second dam of seven stakes winners including Forever Together (by Belong to Me) and Broken Vow (by Unbridled). The former won the 2008 Eclipse Award as champion turf female for owner George Strawbridge, while the latter, a Pin Oak homebred, was a multiple Grade II winner before becoming a linchpin of Pin Oak's stallion roster. Still active at the age of 22, Broken Vow has sired well over 80 stakes winners including this year's Canadian star Tone Broke, winner of two legs of the Canadian Triple Crown.
Strike a Balance, Strike a Pose's 1983 daughter by Nijinsky II, did not last long enough to gain much racing glory, though she won two of her three starts. Nonetheless, she has made her own set of contributions to her family, beginning with 1995 Canadian Horse of the Year Peaks and Valleys (by Mt. Livermore). She also produced Alternate (by Seattle Slew), a multiple listed stakes winner who has come up with three stakes winners of her own. They are Alternation (by Distorted Humor), a multiple Grade II winner who is now a stallion at Pin Oak; Interrupted (by Broken Vow), a multiple listed stakes winner; and Higher Power. Aside from those three, Strike a Balance is the second dam of six other stakes winners, including Grade II winner Eleusis (by Diesis) and Grade III winners Equality (by Mt. Livermore) and Cryptograph (by Cryptoclearance).
Take a Stand's family is unusual in that it represents one of the few flourishing lines descended from old American lineages that cannot be connected to any of the Bruce Lowe families, in this case American Family 29. Descended from an unnamed daughter of Diomed, this line may or may not incorporate non-Thoroughbred elements in its early history, but it has long since proved its merit by the test of the racetrack.
There has not been any particular magic in how Take a Stand's family rose to its present heights, just a lot of well-applied common sense. Pin Oak has routinely made use of access to good stallions with a history of delivering racing results, regardless of the current bloodstock fashions, and has tried to produce well-made specimens with the potential for going two turns. Equally important, when a mating has turned out well, Pin Oak has not been shy about going back to the well by mating related mares to the same stallion. That formula for success may not be dramatic, but its results are beyond question.
Name the 20th-century American Horse of the Year and the Kentucky Broodmare of the Year who are full siblings to one another.
Fillies aren't supposed to tackle the boys. Horses aren't supposed to win a Grade I race off a week's rest. That's the conventional wisdom, but no one bothered to tell Got Stormy that she wasn't doing things according to the book. The first filly to win the Fourtstardave Stakes (USA-IT) at Saratoga, she didn't just win; she blistered the mile in a course-record 1:32.00 while earning a "Win and You're In" slot for the Breeders' Cup Mile (USA-IT).
A daughter of multiple Grade I winner Get Stormy, Got Stormy represents the family of Tiy, whose family hasn't quite gotten the acclaim of the branch of the Bold Irish tribe descended through Shenanigans but has gone about the business of producing good horses for some 40 years nonetheless.
Tiy herself, a granddaughter of Bold Irish through Shenanigans' stakes-placed half sister Leix, was not a stakes winner but was out of the money only once from six starts. Most of her mates were second-tier stallions, but she did well in the paddocks with three stakes winners to her credit. The best of the trio was Pok Ta Pok, a son of the good speed sire Full Pocket who captured the 1989 Bold Ruler Stakes (USA-II). Tiy's stakes-winning daughter Loa (by Hawaii) is the dam of multiple Grade III winner Eagleton (by Majestic Light), and three winning daughters of Tiy also got into the act as graded stakes producers. Golden Tiy (by Dixieland Band) produced 1999 Prioress Stakes (USA-II) winner Sapphire n' Silk (by Pleasant Tap) and 2010 Affirmed Handicap (USA-III) winner Golden Itiz (by Tiznow), and Popul Vuh (by Czaravich) produced 1993 Nashua Stakes (USA-III) winner Popol's Gold (by Strike Gold).
Ahpo Hel (Mr, Leader x Tiy) contributed to the family record with four stakes winners, headed by 1994 Prioress Stakes (USA-II) winner Penny's Reshoot (by Turkey Shoot). Unfortunately, Penny's Reshoot died without issue, but other daughters have carried on. General Jeanne (by Honour and Glory) is the dam of Grade II winners Chace City (by Carson City) and Justwhistledixie (by Dixie Union), and the last-named mare broke the Grade I barrier for the family by producing 2013 Breeders' Cup Juvenile (USA-I) winner New Year's Day (by Street Cry) as well as multiple Grade II winner Mohaymen (by Tapit) and recent Grade III winner Kingly (also by Tapit).
Twin Propeller, Ahpo Hel's stakes-winning daughter by Known Fact, managed to produce only three minor winners from five foals, but she provided the connection between Ahpo Hel and Got Stormy through her French Deputy daughter Air France. The dam of multiple Grade II winner Smooth Air (by Smooth Jazz) and 2011 Sanford Stakes (USA-II) winner Overdriven (by Tale of the Cat), Air France produced the winning Malabar Gold mare Super Phoebe, dam of Got Stormy, as her first foal. Also the dam of stakes-placed Sky Gold (by Successful Appeal), Super Phoebe's most recent foals are a 2018 colt by Super Saver and a 2019 colt by Mohaymen.
Tiy's branch of the Bold Irish female line has been notable primarily for sprinters and milers, and Got Stormy fits well into that profile. Prolific and versatile with regard to the sire lines it has worked with, it has also produced a good many horses that could be called overachievers considering their pedigrees. If it seldom produces the kind of horse that takes the racing world or the sale ring by storm, it has produced a steady rain of solid performers, and there are far worse credentials for a family to have than that.
I'm Avalyn Hunter, an author, pedigree researcher and longtime racing fan.