As a broodmare, Special Me has been a case of breeding up from rather modest stock. Her fifth dam, Pamper Me, was sired by the excellent racehorse Alsab, a two-time American champion who was a solid but unspectacular sire, out of Blandish, a daughter of Blenheim II and the English import Winsome Way. Blandish was a half sister to 1935 American champion 2-year-old filly Forever Yours, but she failed to place in two starts, and Pamper Me was the best of her seven foals, winning the 1957 Jasmine Stakes at Hialeah and placing in two other stakes events. Pamper Me, in turn, produced four winners from seven foals, including two stakes-placed runners.
Pretty Delta, Pamper Me’s 1967 filly by the good but not particularly fashionable sire Delta Judge (a speedy runner who took his biggest win in the 1962 Sapling Stakes) did not even accomplish that much, managing four placings from nine starts, and she produced only two foals. The first, Delta Junction (by Pia Star) was a useful sort who won six of 29 starts and was stakes-placed; the second, Golden Delta, was an unraced daughter of multiple Grade 1 winner Gold and Myrrh (by Damascus), another horse who was a decent sire but would not have made anyone’s list of fashionable stallions.
Golden Delta’s standing as a broodmare can be judged by the stallions she was put to to produce her five foals: Island Sultan, Same Direction, and Cool Victor, none of which were exactly household names. To her credit, she produced the best runner sired by Same Direction (a stakes-placed son of Vice Regent) and one of only two stakes winners for that sire, Domasca Dan, who won the 1989 Jamaica Handicap (USA-G2) and three Canadian stakes races. His full sister Domasco Danielle showed some promise, running third in the 1989 Fanfreluche Stakes (CAN-R) as a juvenile, but was forced into retirement after only three starts.
As a broodmare, Domasco Danielle got better opportunities than her dam, seeing a list of stallions that had either proved their quality as racehorses or were at least reasonably good as sires. Her best runner was sired by her first mate, 1980 American champion 2-year-old male Lord Avie, who did very well as a stallion without ever cracking the top rank. The offspring of this union was Delta Danielle, who won eight of her 37 starts and placed in three stakes races. She, in turn, produced 11 winners from 13 foals, among them 2004 Dubai Golden Shaheen (UAE-G1) winner Our New Recruit (by Alphabet Soup), whose prowess probably had something to do with Delta Danielle’s being accepted for the 2005 book of Unbridled’s Song.
Special Me never really had the opportunity to demonstrate whether she possessed any of her half brother’s talent; born premature, she was lucky to even stay alive and grew to only 14.2 hands. She raced only at 2, going unplaced in three starts, and sold to the Brogdens for US$6,000 at the 2009 Keeneland January sale as a horse of racing age. She was bred to Street Hero that same year and in 2010 produced the winner Restricted List. Her next foal began revealing her potential as a broodmare; under the name of Stonetastic, the daughter of Mizzen Mast won the 2014 Prioress Stakes (USA-G2) and the 2016 Inside Information Stakes (USA-G2) and placed in six other graded events, including a runner-up finish in the 2016 Humana Distaff Stakes (USA-G1).
Since then, Special Me has gone from strength to strength as a producer. Her 2013 colt, Gift Box (by Twirling Candy), won the 2019 Santa Anita Handicap (USA-G1) and two editions of the San Antonio Handicap (USA-G2); a strongly-made, deep-bodied horse, he entered stud at Lane’s End Farm in 2021. 2019 was also the year that Special Me’s sixth foal, Special Forces (by Twirling Candy’s sire Candy Ride) won the Autumn Stakes (CAN-G2) at Woodbine, and he has since won the 2021 Durham Cup Stakes (CAN-G3) as well as placing in four Grade 3 races. Gina Romantica, a daughter of Into Mischief, is Special Me’s most recent star, and the mare has since produced a 2021 filly by Curlin and a 2022 colt by Into Mischief. She was bred to Twirling Candy for 2023.
Not every undersized, poor-performing young mare is going to become a great bargain; most US$6,000 horses have that kind of price tag for a reason. In Special Me’s case, a vital clue that she might be something more than she seemed was her medical record, which provided a legitimate reason other than genetics for her tiny size and less than inspiring racing career. Now 16, she does not have too many more foals left in her, but a group of well-bred daughters, Gina Romantica included, will have all the opportunities that could be asked to help their dam take the next step up from top-flight producer to foundation mare. If they do, they will constitute another chapter written in the story of a mare who is already one of the great bargains of the turf.