TJ has it. After proving intractable as a juvenile, Armed was gelded and demoted to stable pony, but later came around to become a two-time handicap champion and the 1947 American Horse of the Year for Calumet Farm.
Friday Trivia Challenge for 11/27/15
May good racehorses have gone on to a second career as stable ponies, but not too many stable ponies have become champion racehorses. This horse did, eventually racking up 41 wins and three American championship titles. Name him.
The "grey lag" is a European wild goose, and Grey Lag could fly as swiftly as his namesake in when in championship form. Unfortunately, he was long past his best when former owner Harry Sinclair learned that he was running in cheap claiming races in Canada at the age of 13. Sinclair did the right thing by his one-time champion and brought him home to live out his days in peace.
Rusty Slipper: Hooper Strikes Again
While Rusty Slipper is a nice turf mare, no one is going to mistake her for a feminine counterpart to American Pharoah. Nonetheless, she has something in common with the 2015 American Triple Crown winner besides four hooves and an appetite for hay. Like Pharoah, she is a living tribute to Fred Hooper, whose unorthodox breeding program continues to contribute to modern pedigrees.
A look at the pedigrees of Rusty Slipper's second dam, Classic Value, and American Pharoah's third dam, Zetta Jet, reveals that both are bred along similar lines. Zetta Jet is by Hooper's homebred sire Tri Jet, out of a mare by another homebred Hooper stallion in Crozier, out of a mare by a Hyperion-line sire---in this case, Greek Game, a son of Hooper's foundation sire Olympia. Classic Value is by Tri Jet's best son, Copelan (also a Hooper homebred), out of a mare by Crozier, out of a mare by a Hyperion-line sire, the great Swaps. While Hooper made use of other stallions with good effect, this pattern of Tri Jet over Crozier over Olympia or another source of Hyperion is a common one in the pedigrees of Hooper Farm stock. Its net effect is to create line breeding to Hyperion, a six-time English champion sire and three-time English champion broodmare sire. There are far worse foundations on which to try to breed high-class horses.
Even without considering the Hyperion connection, Rusty Slipper's female line is quite solid. Her first four dams are all Hooper-breds, and all four are stakes producers. The line begins with the Swaps mare Pretty Pat, the last foal of Patricia P. (Pilate---Minaret II, by Ksar), who was one of Hooper's original foundation mares. While Pretty Pat won only one of 22 races, she was a half sister to multiple stakes winners Hoop Band (by Hoop, Jr.), Ezgo (by Olympia) and Hoop Bound (by Hoop, Jr.). Those connections were good enough to keep Pretty Pat in Hooper's broodmare band, and she duly rewarded Hooper by producing six winners including Grade III-placed multiple stakes winner Selecting (by Crozier).
All four of Pretty Pat's daughters became stakes producers, and Queen Pat (a full sister to Selecting) was the best of the four. Her seven winners include Grade III-placed multiple stakes winner Pat's Joy (by Daryl's Joy), Grade I-placed stakes winner Shuttle Jet (by Tri Jet) and multiple Grade III winner Classic Value (by Copelan), the granddam of our subject. Queen Pat also produced the non-winner Jetapat (by Tri Jet), dam of multiple Grade III winner Roman Envoy (by Roman Diplomat).
Returning to Classic Value, she produced six foals for Hooper before being sold to William Farish of Lane's End Farm. For Hooper, she produced multiple Grade III winner Class Kris (by Kris S.) and stakes-placed Class on Class (by Jolie's Halo) and Classic Approval (by With Approval). For Farish, Classic Value produced Grade I-placed stakes winner Patriot Act (by A.P. Indy), a horse bred along similar lines to Rusty Slipper as he is by Lemon Drop Kid, whose dam is a three-quarters sister to A.P. Indy.
On the recent record of her female family, Rusty Slipper is now quite a valuable broodmare prospect. Her dam's half sister Class Kris is the dam of multiple Grade I winner Student Council (by Lemon Drop Kid's sire Kingmambo), Grade III winner gradepoint (by A.P. Indy) and stakes winner Class Leader (by Smart Strike), and Class on Class has also done her bit to embellish the family record by producing Grade II winner Don't Get Mad (by A.P. Indy's son Stephen Got Even) and listed stakes winner Barkeley Sound (by Dixieland Band). As for Classic Approval, she had previously produced multiple Grade III winner Gulch Approval (by Gulch) and Grade III-placed listed stakes winner Approval Rating (by Lemon Drop Kid) before throwing Rusty Slipper, and her Charismatic daughter Moyne Abbey is the dam of 2014 Twinspires.com Wood Memorial Stakes (USA-I) winner Wicked Strong (by Hard Spun).
With a background like this, Rusty Slipper would be accepted for the court of virtually any top stallion on the planet. Nonetheless, I find my thoughts circling back to American Pharoah and the common factors that helped make both these fine horses what they are. A dream date, anyone?
Friday Trivia Challenge of 11/2015
Named for a type of goose, this champion could fly in his best days. Unfortunately, he was nearly sterile when tried at stud and could not regain his earlier form. His owner gave him to a friend, thinking the horse would have a good home as a riding horse, but when the friend died later on and his effects were sold off, the horse wound up with another owner who started running the former champion in low-level claimers. Fortunately, the first owner heard of the animal's sad plight, repurchased him, and took him home to a permanent retirement. Name the horse at the center of this tale of the turn of Fortune's wheel.
Burgoo King, who started as #13 in the 1932 Kentucky Derby, won the race but broke down after two more starts at 3; he never regained his earlier form and was not a very successful stallion. At that, he was luckier than many others whose paths crossed his!
Friday Trivia Challenge of 11/13/15
Fittingly for a Friday the 13th post, this Kentucky Derby winner seemed to bring bad luck to everything and everyone he encountered on the track. Consider the following:
Did I mention that this equine bad-luck charm wore #13 in the Derby? Name him.
Although he was sired by two-time San Juan Capistrano Handicap winner Intent out of a mare by Discovery, Intentionally proved to be a brilliant sprinter-miler, winning the American sprint title in 1959. That same year, he equaled Swaps' world record of 1:33-1/5 for the mile. A good but short-lived stallion, he sired In Reality to continue the male line of Man o' War.
Sired by a late-maturing stayer and the maternal grandson of another stayer, today's subject defied his heritage by becoming a good juvenile and later a champion sprinter who equaled the world record for a mile as a 3-year-old. He was also an important link in continuing an old American male line. Name him.
For the 2016 breeding season, American breeders playing at the top of the stallion market will be facing a very interesting choice. They can go to American Pharoah, whose stud fee has just been announced at US$200,000. They can go to the Triple Crown winner's sire, Pioneerof the Nile, at US$125,000. Or they can go to American Pharoah's newly repatriated grandsire, Empire Maker, who will command US$100,000 for his services.
This is one case where cost (the price tag) seems wildly out of line with worth, or the perception of value---at least to me, although the point is moot in my case since I have no mares to be bred. Nonetheless, consider this: American Pharoah's asking price is going to be double that for Empire Maker, the leading American sire of 2012 by North American earnings and a horse who can certainly get a commercially attractive yearling as well as top racehorse. That's a lot to ask for a horse who, however glittering his race record, is wholly untried as a sire and does not have the superb female family that Empire Maker boasts.
There is also good reason to question whether Pioneerof the Nile merits a higher stud fee than his own sire. In siring American Pharoah, he has sired one of the greatest runners of recent memory---but American Pharoah is only one horse. Take him out of consideration, and the remainder of Pioneerof the Nile's stud record would hardly justify the US$60,000 he stood for last year---not when the same fee or less could get you to City Zip, Candy Ride, or Ghostzapper, all proven sires of multiple Grade I winners and more consistent than Pioneerof the Nile has so far proven.
This is not intended as a criticism of Ashford Stud or WinStar Farm regarding their pricing. Like any other business, Thoroughbred breeding is about marketing as much as the product, and "strike while the iron is hot" is a proverb that has been around far longer than I have. The best marketing campaign on earth could not buy the favorable publicity or the hopes that American Pharoah's racing career have built for himself and his sire, and Ashford and WinStar would be foolish not to take advantage of the situation while it lasts. But while I certainly hope that American Pharoah will prove as great a sire as he was a racehorse, history says that the odds of his justifying a US$200,000 stud fee are slim. I'd like to be wrong, but chances are I won't be.
I'm Avalyn Hunter, an author, pedigree researcher and longtime racing fan.