It’s been quite a while since my post about the information I compiled regarding the 100 distinct female families that account for over 200 Hall of Fame members, but I’m back to talk about Family 1-x, the second-most productive female family in American racing’s Hall of Fame. I’ve talked about Family 1-x before, but today I’m focusing solely on the nine Hall of Fame members who descend from the great matriarch La Troienne.
In 1895, pedigree researcher Bruce Lowe’s Breeding Horses by the Figure System was published posthumously by his friend and editor William Allison. Lowe had traced the pedigrees of the winners of the English classic races and grouped them by direct lines of tail-female descent. He then tallied the number of classic winners in each female family, and numbered them in declining order, with the family descending from Tregonwell’s Natural Barb Mare as family #1, the Burton Barb Mare as #2, and so on, for a total of forty-three numbered families. Herman Goos later expanded this to fifty families. While most disregard the theory that Lowe proposed as a result of his research, his family numbers are still used as a convenient method of denoting Thoroughbred female families.
It’s no surprise that some female families have proven to be exceptionally prolific – my personal favorite example is La Troienne’s family 1-x, – but I was curious to know to what extent the greatest horses of our sport descend from common female ancestors. So, I looked up the Lowe family numbers of all 206 equine members of the United States Racing Hall of Fame, and came upon some very interesting findings.
It took me a while to post this, as it is by far the most personal thing I have ever shared on the internet, but I feel it would be an injustice to Blackie to omit the reasons he was such a substantial influence in my life. In reality, this is not a blog post about Better Talk Now – those who knew the horse far more than I have written beautiful tributes to him already, – this is a blog post about the profound impact he had on me, personally.
I’d like to thank Herringswell Stables for their care of Blackie during and after his racing career, and for their generosity in sharing him with his legions of loyal fans. I’d also like to thank Graham Motion for responding to a letter written years ago by a teenage girl whose life was changed by his superstar gelding. I still treasure the letter (now laminated) and photographs I received in reply.
As I have in years past, I will be posting my 2016 Breeders’ Cup selections in the format of a $2 win bet, a $1 3-horse exacta box, and a $2 W/P/S bet. As I’m not much of a gambler, this isn’t exactly how I will be playing the races (my actual bets will likely be on Twitter), but I’ve found it’s a useful way to gauge my own handicapping success in the Breeders’ Cup.
In 1931, a small, nondescript bay mare arrived at Colonel Edward Riley Bradley’s Idle Hour Farm in Lexington, Kentucky, one of two purchases from the Newmarket December Sale of the prior year. The filly had failed to win in her 7 starts in France and England, but had nonetheless been purchased, in foal to the mighty Gainsborough, by Dick Thompson on behalf of Bradley. The name of this mare was La Troienne, and she would become one of the most important broodmares of the 20th century as the foundation mare of Bruce Lowe’s family 1x – and her influence is still apparent today.
Of the ten horses entered in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, four of them have a direct tail-female descendant of La Troienne within the first 5 generations of their pedigree, and only two are without any trace of her in their lineage.
The overwhelming favorite in the race is California Chrome, whose modest breeding has often been highlighted by the media. Personally, however, I believe that his success could be due, in part, to the influence of La Troienne in his dam, Love The Chase. Though an unsuccessful racehorse, Love The Chase’s sire, Not For Love, and damsire, Polish Numbers, both hail from family 1-x – and both from 1971 Champion 2yo Filly Numbered Account, who is the dam of Polish Numbers and the second dam of Not For Love. Interestingly, Numbered Account herself is bred on the same pattern, being by Buckpasser (a great-grandson of La Troienne).
California Chrome is by the stallion Lucky Pulpit, grandson of 1991 Horse of the Year A.P. Indy. While A.P. Indy is not a direct descendant of La Troienne, she does appear three times in his bloodlines. His sire, Seattle Slew, whose dam My Charmer is inbred 6×6 to La Troienne – her sire, Poker, and damsire, Jet Action, both trace tail-female to the great matriarch (sound familiar?). A.P. Indy’s second dam is a daughter of Buckpasser.
Win The Space, by contrast, is a longshot in this year’s event. He is out of a mare by Mutakddim, a stakes winner in England and sire of multiple champions. Mutakddim is a fascinating example of linebreeding to La Troienne. He is by Seeking the Gold, whose damsire Buckpasser is one of La Troienne’s nine direct tail-female descendants in the North American Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame. Buckpasser is also the sire of Mutakddim’s third dam, the aforementioned Numbered Account, whose 5th dam is La Troienne. The dam of Mutakddim, Oscillate, is by Seattle Slew. Mutakddim, therefore, contains five crosses of La Troienne (6x8x8x6x8 ).
The ever-consistent Hoppertunity introduces another example of Numbered Account’s role in carrying on the legacy of her family. He is out of a mare by Unnacounted For, a G1-winning son of Numbered Account’s son Private Account. Additionally, Hoppertunity’s sire Any Given Saturday is out of an A.P. Indy mare, which gives Hoppertunity five total crosses of La Troienne.
Effinex is by Mineshaft, one of the exemplaries of family 1-x. Champion Older Male and Horse of the Year in 2003, and is inbred 8x8x8 to La Troienne. Perhaps also worth noting is that Effinex’s 5th dam, Stolen Hour, is by Mr. Busher, himself a grandson of La Troienne.
The horse that most proclaim to be California Chrome’s biggest threat is the three-year-old Arrogate, winner of the Travers in track and stakes record time. While most of his pedigree is free of La Troienne, he is a grandson of Unbridled, whose pedigree is intriguing on a few levels. Unbridled, as we all know, won both the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic in 1990. A quick glance at his pedigree immediately shows a doubling-up of the great broodmare Aspidistra, who produced two Hall of Fame champions in Dr. Fager and Ta Wee. Aspidistra is a daughter of Better Self, winner of the Saratoga Special, Carter Handicap, and Discovery Handicap, among many others. Better Self is by La Troienne’s Hall of Fame son Bimelech, champion at both two and three and winner of the Preakness and Belmont Stakes of 1940. Aspidistra is the 4th dam of Unbridled, via her daughter Magic, who was by Buckpasser. Magic is a slightly different take on the prolific sire x damsire cross demonstrated by the likes of Numbered Account and Love The Chase demonstrate, as she is by a stallion from family 1-x, but her damsire is instead a paternal grandson of La Troienne.
Santa Anita Handicap winner Melatonin does not have an excessive influence of La Troienne, but he is inbred 6×4 to the great broodmare Ballade, whose broodmare sire Cohoes was a direct grandson of La Troienne. Similarly, War Story has distant influences of La Troienne via his damsire Pulpit (a son of A.P. Indy), and also via Quadrangle, who appears in the 5th generation of his pedigree and is a son of Cohoes.
Dominant Met Mile winner Frosted is by Tapit, a grandson of A.P. Indy who is out of a mare by Unbridled. Seattle Slew appears again in his pedigree via Avenue of Flags, the sire of Frosted’s 2nd dam. While the influence is distant, this does mean that La Troienne appears eight times in his pedigree.
With the Breeders’ Cup on the horizon, we are likely to see the legacy of La Troienne continue to grow. While there are no direct representatives of family 1-x in this year’s Classic, her presence will certainly be felt in the bloodlines of some of the breed’s greatest, as it has and inevitably will be for generations to come.