August 2, 2011

Earlier this summer I wrote a piece for Hello Race Fans! on broodmare extraordinaire Better Than Honour, dam of back-to-back Belmont Stakes winners Jazil (2006) and Rags to Riches (2007). That research got me thinking about how often siblings out of the same dam capture the same top stakes races, and it’s actually a phenomenon that isn’t quite as rare as one might think, although perhaps less so today than in the past.

Those familiar with American racing history well remember the five daughters of the mare Barbarity, known as the “Barbarous Battalion” who included not only Belmont/Travers winner Ruthless, but also Alabama winners Regardless (1874) and Merciless (1876). Teresa Genaro over at Brooklyn Backstretch wrote a terrific piece on the Barbarous Battalion back in 2009, which you can read here.

The Alabama is, in particular, rich with sibling winners, including Running Water (1906) and Addie M (1914), as well as legendary Hall of Fame mare Miss Woodford (1883) and her full sister Belle of Runnymeade (1882). A daughter of Man o’ War, 1928 Alabama runner-up Valkyr outdid them all, producing Vagrancy (1942) and Hypnotic (1946) who each captured both the Alabama and the Coaching Club American Oaks. Also among CCA Oaks winners are two sets of full sisters: Florence Nightingale (1925) and Edith Cavell (1926); and How (1951) and Cherokee Rose (1954).

More often than not, the dams of such sibling winners are incredibly talented race mares in their own right. For example, Kentucky Oaks runner-up Quaze (1960) produced two Kentucky Oaks winners—Susan’s Girl (1972) and Quaze Quilt (1974)—as did 1893 Clipsetta winner Queenlike, with Kentucky Oaks winners Kings Daughter (1906) and Ellen-a-Dale (1908). Even more improbably, multiple stakeswinner Blue Delight gave us three Kentucky Oaks winners: Real Delight (1952), Bubbley (1953) and Princess Turia (1956), the last filly who eventually birthed Derby winner Forward Pass.

Interestingly, among male siblings the phenomenon appears to be a bit rarer (except for the Canadian-bred restricted Queen’s Plate for which there are actually numerous examples). Among the American Triple Crown races, in addition to Better Than Honour’s duo winning the Belmont, only the Preakness has been captured by brothers, Royal Tourist (1908) and Holiday (1914). The Arkansas Derby includes half brothers Al Davelle (1959) and Prince Davelle (1964), as well as Demons Begone (1987) and Pine Bluff (1992). Among the winners of the Wood Memorial are full brothers Gallant Fox (1930) and Fighting Fox (1938), while the German stakes-placed mare Blue Begum gave us back-to-back Virginia Derby winners, full brothers Orchard Park (2002) and Silver Tree (2003).

Because a filly contesting open company stakes races is such a rarity, it’s not surprising that I could find only one example of sisters winning the same stakes race against males—West Virginia Derby victresses Etimota (1963) and Kerensa (1966). Both were bred and owned by Frances W. Luro, wife of legendary trainer Horatio Luro at their Old Mill Farm in Carterville, Georgia. Both were trained by Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame trainer Frank Merrill Jr., although they ran at old Waterford Park in the name of local trainer Patsy Santo. When Etimota won, it was by a record 12 lengths; as a 4-year-old, she would win the Nettie Handicap (now called the E.P. Taylor Stakes). Her sister Kerensa (“love” in Cornish) enjoyed far more success in terms of winning top races. In fact, she was named champion 3-year-old filly in Canada after victories in the Selene, Nassau and Heresy Stakes, not to mention runner-up finishes in both the Toronto Cup and International Handicap, leading up to the West Virginia Derby.


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