June 27, 2012

Hollywood Wildcat winning 1993 BC Distaff
One of the lingering myths in horse racing is that great racemares make terrible broodmares—that they quite literally leave their talent on the track, having nothing left to pass on to their offspring. Winning Colors, Genuine Risk, Bayakoa, Lady’s Secret, and Ashado— these mares readily come to mind as disappointments in the breeding shed. Yet, there are also plenty of examples that dispel this myth, and none better than Hollywood Wildcat who died this past weekend (in foal to Kitten’s Joy) at age 22 of complications from cancer.

As a racemare, Hollywood Wildcat won 12 of 21 starts, finishing out of the money only three times while racing from age 2 to 5, from Florida to Kentucky, New Jersey to California. As a juvenile, she easily won the Debutante Stakes at Churchill Downs—one race after breaking her maiden by 5 lengths. At 3, she failed horribly in the Grade 2 Fantasy at Oaklawn, but rebounded later that summer, winning five straight races beginning with the Grade 1 Hollywood Oaks and ending with a dramatic nose victory over the great Paseana in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Distaff. She subsequently won the Grade 1 Gamely before just missing a victory on turf in the Grade 1 Beverly Hills Handicap; at 4, she repeated winning the Lady’s Secret Handicap before finishing out of the money as the defending BC Distaff champion.

After going out a winner in her sole 1995 start, Hollywood Wildcat began her career as a broodmare, producing a 1996 filly, Danzig Wildcat (Danzig) who won her maiden start, but suffered an injury that ended her career. Sticking with Danzig was obviously a wise move for her connections, as Hollywood Wildcat’s second offspring turned out to be War Chant who, though lightly-raced, captured the Grade 2 San Rafael and then just missed, finishing second in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby. After a disappointing ninth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, he was switched to turf, winning the Grade 2 Oak Tree Breeders’ Cup Mile in October, and then the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile in his career finale. As a sire, War Chant has continued the family tradition, giving us Grade 2 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint victor Chamberlain Bridge (looking just like his daddy closing late), not to mention Santa Anita Derby victor Midnight Interlude.

War Chant wouldn’t be her only son to make it to stud. As a juvenile, Ivan Denisovich was a Group 1 runner-up on turf (Prix Morny) when Aidan O’Brien made yet another of his ill-advised attempts at trying his turf horses on dirt in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and he finished 12th of 14. Ivan Denisovich spent his 3-year-old campaign bouncing back and forth between Europe and the U.S., finishing second in the Grade 1 Secretariat and then ended his career with a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby.

In all, Hollywood Wildcat produced eight winners from 11 foals to race, including a Breeders’ Cup winner. She’ll definitely be missed.

1993 Breeders’ Cup Distaff

2000 Breeders’ Cup Mile (War Chant)

2010 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (Chamberlain Bridge)

2011 Santa Anita Derby (Midnight Interlude)

2007 Coolmore video for Ivan Denisovich

May 27, 2012

While it may not have the prestige associated with some other filly & mare races, the 11-furlong Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay Stakes over the Belmont turf—won this year by Aruna—has proven to be a tremendous race when it comes to showcasing great race mares who go on to produce Grade/Group 1 horses as broodmares. Sure, it may just be that top runners get bred to the best stallions, but we know that breeding the best-to-the-best doesn’t always produce a winner. That’s why it’s so interesting that so many top three finishers in this race since 1970 have produced not just black-type horses, but specifically G1 progeny or mares that have produced G1-quality horses. Here’s a breakdown by decade of those I could readily dig up:

The 1970s:

In 1970 and 1971, Princess Pout captured consecutive runnings of the Sheepshead Bay; her hot-headed son Alleged won back-to-back editions of the FR-G1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Another two- time Sheepshead Bay winner (in 1976 and 1977), Glowing Tribute gave us G1 Kentucky Derby winner Sea Hero. Other Sheepshead Bay winners of significance that decade: 1978 winner Late Bloomer, dam of G1 United Nations winner Ends Well; and 1979 winner Terpsichorist, granddam of both G1 Champagne winner Union Rags and VEN-G1 winner Cheiron; her daughter Dancing Devlette ran third in the 1992 edition of the race—and as a broodmare, Dancing Devlette produced G1 Beldame third-place finisher Satans Quick Chick.

Other top three Sheepshead Bay mares that decade likewise turned out to be solid G1 producers. 1970 third-place finisher Klassy Poppy produced G1 Monmouth (now Haskell) Invitational winner Special Honor, while 1973 runner-up Inca Rose birthed G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup runner-up Hail Bold King. 1975 runner-up Hinterland is the dam of G1 Ballerina victress Feel The Beat, while 1978 runner-up Waya is the granddam of ENG-G1 Golden Jubilee runner-up Crystal Castle, FR-G1 Prix Morny runner-up Secrage and G1 Test runner-up Pretty Prolific. In 1979, Waya’s half sister Warfever finished third in the Sheepshead Bay; as a broodmare, she produced G1 Santa Anita Handicap runner-up Luthier Fever.

The 1980s:

The aforementioned trend continued in the ‘80s. In 1983 and 1984, Sabin took consecutive runnings of the Sheepshead Bay; she is the granddam of two-time GER-G1 Preis von Europa runner-up Poseidon Adventure. 1986 winner Possible Mate (whose daughter Fairy Garden placed third in this race in 1994) is the granddam of G1 Suburban Handicap runner-up Tap Day. There’s also a notable Japanese flavor: 1987 winner Steal a Kiss is the granddam of JPN-G1 Tenno Sho victress Name Value, while 1988 winner Nastique produced JPN-G1 winner Nobo True.

While the winners turned out well as broodmares, the placegetters were arguably even better. Take 1981 runner-up Rokeby Rose as an example; all she did was produce G1 Kentucky Oaks winner and Hall of Fame mare Silverbulletday. A terrific race mare, 1988 third-place finisher Anka Germania gave us G1 Travers winner Deputy Commander, while 1984 third-place finisher Thirty Flags is the dam of G1 Acorn runner-up Dixie Flag, and 1986 third-place finisher Dawn’s Curtsey produced G1 Top Flight runner-up Triumph at Dawn. Others of note: 1983 runner-up First Approach, dam of G1 Beverly D runner-up Alice Springs; 1984 third-place finisher Double Jeux, dam of G1-placed Clark Cottage; 1980 third-place finisher Baby Sister, granddam of VEN-G1 winner Guaraira; and 1987 runner-up Videogenic, granddam of JPN-G1 NHK Mile runner-up Eishin Tsurugizan.

The 1990s:

This decade began well, with 1990 winner Destiny Dance giving us G1 Frizette winner Balletto. 1992 victress Ratings is the granddam of G1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap victor Smart Bid, while 1996 winner Chelsey Flower birthed FR-G1 Prix Jean Prat runner-up  (and now sire) Kentucky Dynamite.

The dam of ENG-G1Nunthorpe runner-up Bertolini, Aquilegia finished second in the 1993 running of the Sheepshead Bay, while 1999 runner-up Starry Dreamer produced both G1 Alabama runner-up Teammate and G1 Vosburgh runner-up (and sire) War Front. Since we’ve already mentioned Dancing Devlette, the only other third-place finisher of interest is 1998’s Colonial Play, dam of G1 Canadian International winner Marsh Side.

The 2000s:

Obviously, given that many of these Sheepshead Bay contestants (like two-time winner Honey Ryder, not to mention placegetters Hostess and Mauralakana) have yet to see their first progeny run, the G1 broodmare accomplishments for this decade are sparse—but what a record it is! How about 2000 third-place finisher La Ville Rouge producing G1 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro? Also, 2003 runner-up Owsley is the dam of G1 Wood Memorial runner-up Arthur’s Tale, while 2004 runner-up Spice Island has given us G1 Florida Derby victor Ice Box.

And, as if you need yet another factoid to absorb on this matter, the dam of 2012 Sheepshead Bay runner-up Hit It Rich is a half sister to Honey Ryder. Not sure when he will make his debut, but Honey Ryder’s brilliantly-named 3-year-old Giant’s Causeway son Oddjob has posted three workouts at Saratoga this May—watch for him later this summer perhaps.
Honey Ryder headed home

May 21, 2012

For a 12-furlong race like the G1 Belmont Stakes, everyone’s first instinct is consider a horse’s sire as the sole gauge to whether or not they can get the distance. However, with a little less than three weeks remaining to ponder your options on who to bet on Belmont Stakes 2012, don’t forget to take into account the importance that dams have played in producing Belmont winners. In this post last year, we looked at the dams of Belmont winners since 2000, and found some striking similarities in terms of their racing and/or breeding performance, as well as their stamina-rich bloodlines. How does the dam of potential Triple Crown winner I’ll Have Another stack up to history? Considering that his sire Flower Alley never attempted 12-furlongs, it’s a particularly significant question.

Arch’s Gal Edith (Arch-Force Five Gal, out of Pleasant Tap)
Her sire Arch won the 10-furlong G1 Super Derby, while her damsire Pleasant Tap captured both the G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup and G1 Suburban Handicap going 10-furlongs—both good signs. Even better: her second damsire Caucasus won the 14-furlong G1 Irish St. Leger, as well as a number of other top races between 10- and 16-furlongs. Her third damsire Sea-Bird won both the Epsom Derby and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe as a 3-year-old. However, Arch’s Gal Edith herself only raced once, breaking her maiden going 6-furlongs at Belmont Park; I’ll Have Another is her only stakes-winner. Her dam Force Five Gal finally broke her maiden in her 14th start, and in her final (27th) start, at age 5, finished a well-beaten second in a minor stakes event going 1 1/16 miles on turf at Fort Erie. None of Force Five Gal’s progeny have raced in stakes company. You have to go back to Arch’s Gal Edith’s second dam (I’ll Have Another’s third dam) Last Cause to find quality performers; as a juvenile, she once placed third in the G3 Miss Grillo Stakes. In addition to Force Five Gal, Last Cause also produced the G3 Bewitch runner-up Noble Cause and the stakes-placed Ultimate Strike. Still, on the performance side, that’s kind of light, and doesn’t really compare favorably to the latest Belmont winners.

If you are looking for those with dams more in line with recent history, you might want to consider:

Pocho’s Dream Girl (Fortunate Prospect-True to Romeo, by Gallant Romeo)
The dam of Mark Valeski was G1-placed, having finished third in the 9-furlong Beldame; her second dam, Spinaway victress Silver True was not only a half sister to G1 Santa Anita Derby-winning filly Silver Spoon, but also produced a half brother to unraced True to Romeo named Silver Buck, winner of the 10-furlong G1 Suburban and sire of the great Silver Charm. Now that’s a Belmont Stakes-winner’s damline.

Tempo (Gone West-Terpsichorist, by Nijinsky)
The dam of Union Rags, Tempo only raced three times, but her dam Terpsichorist was a terrific router, a G2 winner at 10-furlongs and a G3 winner at 12-furlongs. A half sister to Tempo, Dancing Devlette produced G1-placed Satans Quick Chick.

Indy Pick (A.P. Indy-Fantastic Find, by Mr. Prospector)
The dam of Optimizer, Indy Pick is a daughter of G1 winner Fantastic Find, and a half sister to multiple G1 winner Finder’s Fee.

Mining My Own (Smart Strike-Aspenelle, by Vice Regent)
Mining My Own has already produced a G1-winning half brother to Dullahan, Kentucky Derby victor Mine That Bird.

Dream of Summer (Siberian Summer-Mary’s Dream, by Skywalker)
The dam of Creative Cause, Dream of Summer won 10 of 20 starts, including the G1 Apple Blossom. Her sire Siberian Summer, her damsire Skywalker and her second damsire Properantes were all G1 winners of 10- to 12-furlongs. If Creative Cause goes in the Belmont (and his chances are currently 50-50 according to his trainer), he’s well-bred for it.

Untouched Talent (Storm Cat-Parade Queen, by A.P. Indy)
Apparently Bodemeister will skip the Belmont, more the pity as his damside is beautifully-bred for the race. His dam Untouched Talent finished second in the G1 Del Mar Debutante, while her G2-placed dam Parade Queen has also produced a half brother to Untouched Talent, 12-furlong G1 runner-up Obay. Instead of Bodemeister, Bob Baffert has indicated that he may send Paynter, who is equally impressive:

Tizso (Cees Tizzy-Cee’s Song, by Seattle Song)
While Paynter’s dam Tizso wasn’t much of a racehorse, she’s regally bred—a full sister to two-time G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic victor Tiznow, as well as G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic runner-up Budroyale. Enough said.

April 25, 2012

Last year I wrote a piece on the dams of Kentucky Derby winners since 2000 which revealed fascinating intersections between strong damside stamina breeding in recent Derby winners and the presence of great race mares in their pedigrees. As an addendum to that post, the dam of last year’s victor Animal Kingdom, Dalicia (Acatengango-Dynamis, by Dancing Brave) absolutely validates my argument, with her German-bred sire Acatengango being a legendary stayer with seven Group 1 victories at 12-furlongs or longer; Dalicia herself was a Group 3 winner at 10-furlongs, while her second dam Diasprina (German champion juvenile filly of 1988) produced a host of winners including G2 German 1000 Guineas victress Diacada and G3 Grosser Preis von Berlin winner Desidera.

When considering which horses to include in your Kentucky Derby betting 2012, several look particularly promising solely based on their dams, including Dullahan if for no other reason other than his dam Mining My Own has already produced a Derby winner in 2009’s Mine That Bird!

Six other potential contenders whose dams where either good/great racemares themselves, or hail from a line of productive race mares—and include plenty of stamina-rich damsires in their first five generations—include (in alphabetical order):

His dam Munnaya (Nijinsky-Hiaam, by Alydar) won the 11-furlong listed English Oaks Trial, and has already produced five winners at or beyond 10-furlongs. This is also the family of champion Kamar (Key to the Mint) who produced multiple G1-winner Gorgeous, G1 Kentucky Oaks victress Seaside Attraction (dam of G1 Florida Derby winner Cape Town and champion juvenile filly Golden Attraction), and Queen’s Plate victor Key to the Moon. In addition to his second damsire Alydar, Alpha’s third damsire Key to the Mint finished second in the 1972 Jockey Club Gold Cup when it was contested at 16-furlongs (two miles), while his fourth damsire Quadrangle won the Belmont Stakes.

His G1-placed dam Untouched Talent (Storm Cat-Parade Queen, by A.P. Indy) finished second in the 8.5 furlong G2 Alcibiades in her only route attempt, but her dam Parade Queen twice won G3 events at that distance, plus finished a game runner-up in the 9-furlong G2 Rare Perfume Breeders’ Cup Handicap on turf. In addition to being by a Belmont Stakes winner (Empire Maker), Bodemeister’s second damsire is Belmont victor A.P. Indy, while his third damsire is the great 12-furlong G1 English Derby winner Roberto and his fourth damsire is English Triple Crown winner Nijinsky.

Creative Cause
His dam Dream of Summer (Siberian Summer-Marys Dream, by Skywalker) won the G1 Apple Blossom and finished a late closing second in the 9-furlong G1 Santa Margarita Invitational in her career swansong. His second damsire Skywalker won the 10-furlong G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic, while his third damsire Properantes captured the 14-furlong G1 San Juan Capistrano Invitational Handicap.

His unraced dam Crystal Shard (Mr. Prospector-Sulemeif, by Northern Dancer) is a full-sister to G1 Kentucky Oaks runner-up Withallprobability; her three-quarter sister produced 12-furlong Japanese Oaks winner Robe Decollete, while another half sister birthed the Japanese Triple Tiara winner Still in Love. His third dam Barely Even, runner-up to Susan’s Girl in the G1 Kentucky Oaks, produced G1 Oak Leaf victress One of a Klein. Crystal Shard was 15-years-old when she birthed Gemologist, and her dam Sulemeif was 14-years-old when she produced Crystal Shard, so it’s not surprising to find some really classic damsires in Gemologist: Mr. Prospector and Northern Dancer we see somewhat regularly, but when’s the last time Crème dela Crème or The Doge showed up in the first five generations?

Take Charge Indy
His multiple G1-winner dam Take Charge Lady (Dehere-Felicita, by Rubiano) regularly won at 9-furlongs (including twice capturing the G1 Spinster Stakes); this is also the family of G2 Lane’s End runner-up Northern Giant, G1 Jamaica runner-up Straight Story, and G2 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint victor Chamberlain Bridge.

Union Rags
His dam Tempo (Gone West-Terpsichorist, by Nijinsky) only raced three times, but won first out by 4 1/2 lengths going 6-furlongs. However, her dam Terpsichorist won the G2 Sheepshead Bay Handicap over 10-furlongs, the G3 Long Island Handicap at 12-furlongs, and even defeated males (including G1-placed Darby Creek Road) in the ungraded 11-furlong Rutgers Handicap. As a broodmare, she’s also produced 10-furlong G2 New York Handicap runner-up Dancing Devlette, dam of the G1 Beldame-placed Satans Quick Chick.

April 22, 2012

On Saturday the name Dahlia seemed to be everywhere. First, at Pimlico, there was the grassy 1-mile Dahlia Stakes, won by recent $25k claimer 15-1 longshot Idle Talk, a 6-year-old Olmodavor mare making her first attempt at stakes company in 30 starts. The race itself is named for the great champion Hall of Fame mare Dahlia who in the mid-1970s regularly trounced males at the highest level—in France, in England, and in North America. Among her victories: the FR-G1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud; the ENG-G1 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes at Ascot; the ENG-G1 Juddmonte International at York; the G1 Man o’War at Belmont Park; and the G1 Washington DC International at Laurel.

Dahlia winning the 1973 Washington DC International
Dahlia also excelled in the breeding shed, producing 4-time G1 winner Dahar (Lyphard) and 3-time G1 victor Rivlia (Riverman), as well as G1 winners Delegant (Grey Dawn) and Dahlia’s Dreamer (Theatrical), not to mention G1-placed Decadrachm (What a Pleasure).

On the West Coast on Saturday, Dahlia’s 4-year-old granddaughter Capital Plan (Rock Hard Ten) captured the 10-furlong G2 Santa Barbara Handicap at Santa Anita; her dam is the unraced Strawberry Road mare Miss Dahlia. Across the Pacific Ocean on Sunday, 3-year-old Ice Follies (Stay Gold) finished second in the 10-furlong JPN-G2 Sankei Sports Sho Flora Stakes; her second dam Begonia is an unplaced daughter of Dahlia once owned by Nelson Bunker Hunt. How nice it is to see great racing mares continue their prowess down through the generations.

March 25, 2012

It was the evocative name that first caught my eye. Inquieta. Restless, in Spanish. To say that this long-ago race mare has obsessed me of late would be a fair assessment and even somewhat of an understatement. Why else would I pore through over 1,000 old editions of the Daily Racing Form just to piece together her race record? Thanks to the University of Kentucky’s partnering with Keeneland to preserve racing’s rich history by digitally scanning the DRF, and thus making it searchable, my efforts were slightly eased…but only slightly. Turns out, like so many thoroughbreds that aren’t superstars or even briefly household names, Inquieta tip-toed around famous people and famous horses for a while, but then faded into obscurity, all the while toiling away for years in the claiming ranks. And yet, hers is a story worth telling because it represents the majority of horses racing in this country: a hard-knocking horse that simply loved to run.

It begins at Ellerslie Stud near Charlottesville, Virginia, the family homestead of the Hancock family, later of the legendary Claiborne Farm. After the death of his father Captain Richard Hancock in 1909, Arthur B. Hancock, Sr. took over control of the farm, the very year that they had mated their homebred Charaxus mare Ellerslie to the imported stallion Fatherless. Winner of the Great Metropolitan Handicap at Epsom and the Prince of Wales Plate at Newmarket, Fatherless had been purchased by Hancock in 1900, a promising stallion prospect after eight years of racing and an English record holder at 1 3/8 miles. The product of this mating was a 1910 bay filly named Inquieta. For Hancock, she was to become one of his first stakes winners, although only as a breeder, not as her owner.

At the 1911 Lexington Yearling Sale, former jockey-turned trainer George Odom bought her for $200. Odom would have known a good horse when it saw it; later inducted into the horse racing Hall of Fame as a jockey, Odom had ridden the great Broomstick and won the 1904 Belmont Stakes on Delhi, a feat he would repeat many years later as a trainer, with Pasteurized. In the mid-1940s, Odom would also enjoy great success with the terrific filly Busher—and judging from her early exploits it’s not hard to think Inquieta may have possessed the same gritty determination of Busher.

Inquieta’s first races occurred at Terrazas Park in Juárez, Mexico, just across the border from El Paso, Texas. Opened on December 1, 1909, the 1 1/8 mile-track—patterned after Santa Anita racetrack—had been built by Louisville architect D. X. Murphy for an American syndicate headed by J. G. Follansbee and under the supervision of general manager Colonel Matt J. Winn. As the DRF noted about the facility while it was being built:
“The grandstand is to have a seating capacity of 5,000 and will be built entirely of reinforced concrete, with a roof of art metal and artistic approaches of concrete. The general plan of the structure is to be similar to that of the Paris race course stand…[with] no posts in the main section of the stand to obstruct the view, for the roof is to be supported by reinforced concrete trusses and the entire structure will be absolutely fireproof.”
Terrazas Park in Juarez, Mexico
Period photos reveal an elegant facility, perfect for the hordes of patrician American horsemen wintering in Mexico during the years when racing was increasingly under attack in New York and elsewhere. 

In that same DRF article I found this incredibly revealing comment:
“One of the unique features of the new Juarez plant is to be the section set apart for the native element that are too poor to pay any admission to see the races. Twice each week during the racing season the Mexican peons, with their families, will be admitted free and these occasions will be advertised as widely as the special stakes event that are to be run once each week.”
How thoughtful to allow the "peons" to attend the races! But I digress…

Astonishingly early when compared to current racing practices, Inquieta made her 2-year-old debut on January 5, 1912, in a 3-furlong allowance race for juvenile fillies. Legendary starter Mars Cassidy sent them to the post—and Inquieta promptly finished dead-last, nine lengths back of the winner. Just five days later, she went postward again going three furlongs against her own sex, and again the result wasn’t good: dead-last in a field of eleven. The winner: future Hall of Famer Pan Zareta.

Dropping her down into a selling race on January 19, Inquieta broke much better and won easily by 2 1/2 lengths against 11 competitors. It was the beginning of a 6-race win streak for Inquieta, culminating in a devastating 10-length victory in the track’s concluding juvenile stakes race, the 4-furlong Mexican Selling Stakes on March 17. All six victories were accomplished in just two months’ time and in one of them, a 4-furlong allowance race on March 2, she defeated Pan Zareta by 3 1/2 lengths,

Before that, on February 9, she won the season’s first half-mile race for juveniles; as the DRF noted: “She broke from the barrier like a bullet and escaped trouble that occurred after the first twenty yards of the race had been run, when most of the starters staggered into one another.” That race, won in 46 4/5 seconds, I later found out was the second fastest 4-furlongs run in 1912, by any horse of any age.

However, as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end, and on March 22, the winning streak was broken. As the DRF account notes:
"George M. Odom’s Inquieta, after winning six consecutive races, was defeated today by El Palomar, property of Charles W. Clark, the California millionaire horseman. Inquieta ran a remarkable race considering that she started to run out a quarter of a mile from the finish. Jockey Callahan brought her in towards the rail again, but she zig-zagged in the final running and at the finish she was on the extreme outside. She was beaten by a scant length."
All told, in those first nine starts, Inquieta won a total of $1,915, by far the most successful of her then-dead sire’s progeny to that point in the year. In all of her races, she had been ridden by Odom’s contract rider J. Callahan.

With racing concluded at Juárez, Odom moved his filly on to Lexington where, on April 27, she endured a rough trip and finished ninth in a 4-furlong allowance race. Just three days later though, she finished third, 2 1/2 lengths back of the colt Hawthorn in the 4 1/2-furlong Iroquois Stakes at Lexington. Three days after that, she finished a surprisingly poor seventh in a selling race, attributed by the DRF to the addition of blinkers, undoubtedly an attempt to combat her tendency to dramatically wander across the track during her races.

Moving on to Churchill Downs, “showing much improvement” she “moved up rapidly from a slow beginning and finished with a rush” to gain second-place in a 4-furlong allowance race. Among those she beat that day, and later on another occasion, was subsequent champion juvenile filly Gowell, winner of the 1913 Ashland Oaks and Latonia Derby, as well as third-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby behind huge longshot Donerail.

By July 7, Inquieta had run 22 times (!), finishing out the money on nine occasions, with 6 wins, 4 seconds and 3 thirds, for total earnings of $2,403. I found mention in the DRF’s August 23, 1912 edition that her owner/trainer George Odom “says that he has expended much effort in training Inquieta to run straight, and he now thinks that the daughter of Fatherless will do better this fall.” Even afterwards, though, this issue reappears again and again in form charts, like on October 21 at Latonia when she would have won had she not bore out around the final turn—she still managed to run second on that occasion.

All told, as a 2-year-old, Inquieta ran 30 times at five different tracks, with a record of 7 wins, 6 seconds and 5 thirds, as well as 12 out of the money efforts. Today, that’s more than a career for most top horses—and she was just a baby. Odom seems to have had a predilection for running his juvenile charges often, though. In 1908, his 2-year-old filly Trance made 26 starts, winning 16 and, being unplaced only once, won $28,147. When she returned for her 3-year-old campaign, Trance ran—and won—only one race before injuring both knees during a workout. Turned out for the rest of the year, she came back to race at ages 4, 5 and 6, making 62 career starts—and winning 30 races.

After a bit of a slow start, as a 3-year-old, Inquieta hit her groove when the track at Juárez was inundated with torrential winter rains. She easily captured races on back-to-back days (February 8 and 9) and then won again on February 13. Turned back once more the following day, she suffered a nightmare trip; as noted in the DRF form chart, she was “sharply shut off at the half and, after losing considerable ground, made a game effort in the stretch, but could not quite get up.” She finished 1/2 length back in second; she followed that effort up a mere two days later with a third-place finish. All told, in the first three months of 1913, Inquieta ran 15 times at Juárez , winning four races, with 2 seconds and 2 thirds.

That’s where her association with George Odom ended, though. I couldn’t find details of how exactly or when it happened, but she was purchased by B.A. Trammel & Gray, and spent the rest of that year racing—and winning—at six different tracks on what was known as the Inter-Mountain Circuit and in the Texas-Oklahoma region: in Idaho, at Coeur d’Alene (11 starts: 4 wins, 3 seconds, 2 thirds); in Montana at Butte (8 starts: 1 win, 2 thirds) and at Anaconda (2 starts: 1 second, DNF after she fell); in Oklahoma at Tulsa (5 starts: 2 wins, 1 second, 1 third) and at Oklahoma City (2 starts: 1 win); and in Texas at Dallas (3 starts: 2 wins including her first attempt at routing, going 9 furlongs).

Although she race almost exclusively in selling races, Inquieta did manage a third-place finish in the Montana Handicap at Butte on July 19. She topped off her 3-year-old campaign by returning to the track where her year began, making four starts at Juárez in December, with 1 second and 1 third-place finish. Unbelievably, that’s 50 starts in one year! She won 14 times, with 8 seconds and 8 thirds, for total winnings of $3,307.

After failing to hit the board in four starts at Juárez to begin 1914, Inquieta didn’t race for the rest of her 4-year-old campaign, but she turns up at the Juárez meet again in January 1915 under new ownership, T. Polk. That year she raced primarily in Canada: in Montreal (Delorimier Park, Dorval, Blue Bonnets and Mount Royal), in Ottawa (Connaught Park), and in the Toronto area (Fort Erie, Dufferin, and Hillcrest). She also raced twice at Latonia before arriving back in Mexico in December where, in her final race for Polk, she was pulled up. The final tally: 48 starts, with only 4 wins, but 12 seconds and 7 thirds—and she set a track record at Mount Royal for six furlongs.

As the years rolled by so too did the races. In 1916, Inquieta raced primarily for W. L. Schaefer in Tijuana and in Nevada at Reno, racking up 53 starts, with 4 wins, 8 seconds and 6 thirds for earnings of $1,380. By December she had changed hands again, now racing for George W. Wingfield’s Nevada Stock Farm, but by January 1917, she came to be owned and trained by Canadian horseman William “Red” Walker. In his 1911 book Easy Money, Paul Brolaski describes Walker as:
“…a man who deserves great credit for his rise in the turf world. By his own hard work he progressed his way up from a stable foreman to one of the best trainers and largest race-horse owners in America. There is no angle of the game that “Red” doesn’t know. He has had every phase of it from jockey to bookmaker and owner. His success has been in training his own horses. He is a man much feared because he will run up the price of horses that are in selling races; but is much like by the majority of poor owners on that account. It makes no difference to Walker whether a man is a millionaire or not; if his horse is in too cheap and wins, Walker will boost him.”
Walker must have loved something in Inquieta because he raced her for the next three years. In 1917, she made 14 starts in Tijuana before moving on to Bowie in Maryland, and then up to Canada once more for the summer; that autumn she raced at Latonia and Churchill before finishing the year at Jefferson Park in New Orleans. For the year 1917: 45 starts, with 9 wins, 8 seconds and 3 thirds.

For whatever reason, 1918 saw Inquieta race only 25 times, at Fair Grounds and Oaklawn, then briefly up to Bowie and Baltimore before returning to New Orleans’ Jefferson Park where, during their winter meet (November 23 to December 31), she contested 11 events, with 3 wins, 1 second and 2 thirds, earning a generous $1,250.
“The meeting was not a huge success, principally because of the inclement weather which prevailed during the greater part of it. The continual rains left the track in the worst condition possible and unsafe to race over, with the result that the racing secretary found it extremely difficult to fill the daily program, the fields in most cases being small and composed of the cheaper grade of horses.”
It’s at this point in our story that simple appreciation for the handling of a gutsy hard-knocker is supplanted by an incredible sadness, as, for whatever reason, William Walker did not retire his mare. Instead, in 1919, at age 9, Inquieta raced 21 more times, managing to hit the board only once and that was early in the year. The past performance chart is nearly unbearable to look at, as she’s routinely defeated by 20 or more lengths, bouncing from Bowie, to Saratoga, to Havre de Grace to Jamaica in New York.

One of Inquieta's last form charts
On October 14, Inquieta again finishes dead-last in a 1 1/16 miles selling race at Empire City—51 1/2 lengths back of the winner. Nine days later, before the running of that day’s races, someone named A. Jarrin paid $325 in a paddock sale for Inquieta—and she rewarded him with a next-to-last effort, 30 lengths back of the winner. That winner, Bantry—in an ironic twist of fate—had also been bred at Ellerslie Stud by Arthur B. Hancock.

That’s it. That’s all I can find out about Inquieta. She apparently didn’t produce any foals, or at least none that made it to the racetrack. For a horse that contested 276 races over the course of eight years, with 42 wins, 43 seconds, and 33 thirds, I can just hope she had a happy ever-after.

Sources Consulted:
The Southern Planter (October 1900) p. 565, on Hancock purchase of Fatherless.
“The Ellerslie Farm Stallions and Brood Mares” Richmond (VA) Times, January 13, 1901, p. 3, col. 4.
“Notes of the Turf” DRF, February 2, 1912, on Odom purchase of Inquieta.
“Busy Times at Juarez Just Now” DRF, August 26, 1909, on Juarez race track.
“Inquieta is Again a Winner” DRF, February 10, 1912.
“Inquieta Finally is Beaten” DRF, March 23, 1912.
“Record of a Fast Mare” DRF, October 4, 1912, on Odom’s filly Trance.
Harry Brolaski, Easy Money: Being the Experiences of a Reformed Gambler (Cleveland, 1911) p. 191.

Photo credits:
Juarez Racetrack photos (unknown date), Otis A. Aultman Photo Collection, El Paso Public Library.
Photo of jockey J. Callahan, The Jockey Club Juarez and El Paso souvenir booklet, 1912-13, El Paso Public Library.

December 30, 2011

It’s a saying whose provenance is unclear: “The golden age is before us, not behind us.” Taking a glass-half-full attitude is sometimes hard to do when so many things appear to conspire against us, yet it doesn’t take an eternal optimist to acknowledge that we are in the midst of a golden age for horse racing’s fillies and mares. This blog previously highlighted their performances in 2009 and 2010, and once again in 2011, on every continent that horse racing is contested, a filly or mare won at the highest level against male competitors.

Still, American owners and trainers rarely contest these open company events, much to the detriment of racing and its fans. Thankfully, owner Rick Porter and trainer Larry Jones gave us Havre de Grace who thrilled with her battles against Blind Luck early in the year, before turning her attention to defeating males in the G1 Woodward. Although she could only manage a fourth-place finish in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic, Havre de Grace should rightly earn the 2011 Eclipse Award for U.S. Horse of the Year, following in the hoof prints of the great Zenyatta (2010) and Rachel Alexandra (2009).

Yet, internationally, fillies and mares clearly dominated 2011’s headlines, led by the Australian superstar Black Caviar, an undefeated phenomenon (16 straight victories) whose fame now has transcended her sport—and led to her own website. She’ll take on the world in 2012, beginning with Royal Ascot in June. Six times this year she defeated males in open company G1 races, including the prestigious Newmarket Handicap, first contested in 1874. 

March 12—Black Caviar, 4yo, AUS-G1 Newmarket H. (6f T)

Black Caviar wasn’t the only remarkable Aussie mare to capture a classic race. Pinker Pinker upset the Cox Plate, while Southern Speed took out the Caulfield Cup and Sacred Choice won the Doncaster. Promising 3-year-old Shamrocker pulled off the Australian Guineas-Australian Derby double. Other great winning open company performances were put in by Typhoon Tracy (Orr), More Joyous (Futurity), Beaded (Doomben 10,000), Secret Admirer (Epsom) and Ortensia (Winterbottom).

Staying in the Southern hemisphere, it’s notable that three of the four biggest G1 open company races on the South African calendar were captured by fillies: Mother Russia (J&B Met), Igugu (Vodacom Durban July) and Dancewiththedevil (International Summer Cup).

After winning the top German G1 races (Grosser Preis von Berlin and Grosser Preis von Baden), Danedream dominated the FR-G1 Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe—a race where the top three placings were fleshed out by fillies. The same kind of trifecta sweep happened in the 15.5 furlong Prix Royal-Oak, won by Be Fabulous. Margot Did gave jockey Hayley Turner her second career G1 win in the Nunthorpe, while juvenile La Collina defeated two subsequent G1-winning colts in the Phoenix Stakes. Maybe she wasn’t quite her glorious self this year, but Goldikova still won the Prix D’Ispahan, and finished behind upcoming filly Immortal Verse in the Prix Jacques Le Marois. 

In Canada, Inglorious captured the Queen’s Plate, while Sarah Lynx shocked the Canadian International.

All told, at least 463 times in 2011 fillies and mares won or placed in group/graded stakes races worldwide—that’s another huge increase over last year’s number (380). Of those, 151 were at the highest (G1) level, including 53 G1 victories, all of which are recorded in the spreadsheet found in this blog’s left-hand column.

For your viewing pleasure, here are some of the best performances of 2011:

January 8—Mother Russia, 5yo, SAF-G1 Queen’s Plate (8f T)

February 26—More Joyous, 4yo, AUS-G1 Futurity S. (7f T)

March 5—Shamrocker, 3yo, AUS-G1 Australian Guineas (8f T)

May 22—Goldikova, 6yo, FR-G1 Prix D’Ispahan (9f T)

 June 26—Sarafina, 4yo, FR-G1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (12f T)

July 2—Igugu, 3yo, SAF-G1 Vodacom Durban July (11f T)

August 7—La Collina, 2yo, IRE-G1 Phoenix S. (6f T)

August 15—Immortal Verse, 3yo, FR-G1 Prix Jacques Le Marois (8f T)

September 3—Havre de Grace, 4yo, US-G1 Woodward (9f )

October 2—Danedream, 3yo, FR-G1 Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe (12f T)

October 15—Southern Speed, 4yo, AUS-G1 Caulfield Cup (12f T)

October 16—Sarah Lynx, 4yo, CAN-G1 Canadian International (12f T)

October 22—Pinker Pinker, 4yo, AUS-G1 Cox Plate (10f T)

October 23—Be Fabulous, 4yo, FR-G1 Prix Royal-Oak (15.5f T)

November 19—Ortensia, 6yo, AUS-G1 Burswood-Winterbottom (6f T)

 November 27—Buena Vista, 5yo, JPN-G1 Japan Cup (12f T)

November 11, 2011

The monstrous $8.5 million recently paid for Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (Distaff) winner Royal Delta brings up an intriguing issue. Just how prolific are female Breeders’ Cup Distaff winners at producing quality horses at stud? Obviously a myriad of factors come into play—health issues and poor breeding choices chief among them, as well as the subsequent handling of a mare’s progeny. It’s an inexact science to be sure. However, if the Breeders’ Cup series is intended to not only highlight champion racehorses, but also promote these champions as viable future breeding stock, then an evaluation of how filly and mare champions have thus far fared as broodmares is a valid exercise.

The question that likely can’t be answer with authority regards those deemed “failures” as broodmares; namely, is it the result of their own pedigree limitations, or does, in fact, winning on the track contribute in some way to their capacity to genetically pass on their talent? Still, it’s intriguing what history tells us.

Of the 21 Distaff winners before 2006, only three can be considered smashing successes as broodmares: Personal Ensign (1988), Dance Smartly (1991) and Hollywood Wildcat (1993). Two of them have produced subsequent Breeders’ Cup winners: Hollywood Wildcat’s son War Chant won the 2000 BC Mile, while Personal Ensign’s daughter My Flag captured the 1995 BC Juvenile Fillies—and then produced 2002 BC Juvenile Fillies victress Storm Flag Flying, a rare three-generation achievement. Two of Dance Smartly’s progeny captured back-to-back editions of the prestigious Queen’s Plate in Canada: Scatter the Gold (2000) and Dancethruthedawn (2001).

Interestingly, two of these mares had extraordinary siblings: Personal Ensign was a full-sister to multiple G1-winner Personal Flag, while Dance Smartly was a half sister to G1 winner Smart Strike. On the other hand, Hollywood Wildcat had nothing significant on her damside.

Among the Distaff winners with modest success, Inside Information (1995) produced 2005 champion 3-year-old filly Smuggler, while long-forgotten Sacahuista (1987) gave us Italian Group 1 victor Ekraar and successful Chilean and Australian sire Hussonet. Both Beautiful Pleasure (1999) and Spain (2000) produced unexceptional G1-placed runners, Dr. Pleasure and Plan, respectively, while Life’s Magic (1985), Unbridled Elaine (2001) and Azeri (2002) each count a Grade 2 performer among their brood.

Still others have been devastating disappointments:  Princess Rooney, Lady’s Secret, Bayakoa, Paseana, and Ashado among them. Of those, several were high-priced broodmare purchases including Princess Rooney ($5.5 million) and Ashado ($9 million)—although only one of them had much in their damline to recommend them. Ashado’s full brothers were G1 winner Sunriver and G2-placed Saint Stephen, while her dam’s half sister Quite a Bride was multiple G2-placed.

What, if anything, does that means for the future success of Royal Delta? Uncertain, of course, but she too has a quality damline—her G3-winning dam Delta Princess is out of G2-winner Lyphard’s Delta who has also produced the very nice Italian Group 1 winner Biondetti, as well as G1 winner Indy Five Hundred. Given that she’s likely to return to the track as a 4-year-old, thankfully it’s a question we won’t have to worry about any time soon.

We'll take a look at other female Breeders' Cup winners as broodmares in future posts as we consider whether or not issues like surface, distance and precociousness also help determine future success in the breeding shed.

October 7, 2011

Four weeks from now, 6-year-old Goldikova will attempt to do something no horse—male or female—has ever accomplished: become a four-time Breeders’ Cup Mile winner. Coming in with a two-race losing streak obviously isn’t ideal, but the Anabaa mare loves the tighter turns of American turf courses like Churchill Downs, so it will be hard to discount her chances. 

Of all the Breeders’ Cup races, the turf Mile is probably my favorite open company affair, and since 1984, eight times it’s been won by a filly or mare. Before Goldikova, there was Six Perfections (2003), Ridgewood Pearl (1995), and two-time winner Miesque (1987, 1988), a brilliant racer and terrific broodmare who not only produced champion East of the Moon and dynamic sire Kingmambo, but a Breeders’ Cup Mile winner in (appropriately enough) Miesque’s Son.  

Photo: Blood-Horse Library
The first BC Mile winner Royal Heroine (1984) is one that perhaps has faded from people’s memories over the past two decades, but should not be forgotten—and not just because of her North American record-setting effort against a field that include Cozzene (who came back to win the race the following year). Her game effort in the G1 Arlington Million just before the Breeders’ Cup impresses me; after her jockey Fernando Toro made the unusual move of gunning her to the lead, the Lypheor filly led the boys on a merry chase until, in the final furlong she was passed by the legendary John Henry, making the 81st start of his illustrious career. 

Here's the video of her Breeders’ Cup victory:

What makes Royal Heroine’s performance that year truly miraculous is the fact that six months earlier, in the G1 Santa Ana Stakes at Santa Anita, she had been involved in a three-horse spill—one in which Sweet Diane died instantly after breaking her neck and High Haven was later euthanized due to her broken left front leg. Fortunately, Royal Heroine suffered only minor cuts and severe body soreness, but Fernando Toro (who would also ride her to BC victory) was thrown and then kicked in the face by Royal Heroine as she attempted to rise from her knees. His physical ailments—lacerations and a concession—didn’t match the emotional trauma felt by jockey Ray Sibille who, although riding High Haven, was the regular rider of Sweet Diane (she was ridden by Laffit Pincay that fatal day).

“2 Horses Die, Toro Injured in 3-Way Spill at Santa Anita” by Bill Christine, Los Angeles Times (March 19, 1984).

After a three-month break, Royal Heroine made her return for trainer John Gosden a winning one, capturing the open company G3 Inglewood Handicap, and followed that up with a victory in the G2 Beverly Hills Handicap in July. Next, in the race prior to the Million, she was disqualified from first to third in the G3 Palomar at Del Mar. In her final prep for the Breeders’ Cup, Royal Heroine was upset by Flag De Lune, but then she put in that world record-matching time in the Mile, a record that had been set back in 1949. The final race of her career was a mere 15 days after her BC win, when she captured the G1 Matriarch over Sabin. It was enough to make her the Eclipse-winning turf mare for 1984.

She may not have been a Miesque—let alone a Goldikova—but Royal Heroine was one tough cookie.
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