No doubt the wonderful foundation matron *La Troienne is as close to a household name in the Thoroughbred world as any horse who ever lived. What is generally not discussed – or even known – is that *La Troienne had a younger three-quarter sister named Adargatis who, while she did not contribute as much to American breeding, is nevertheless an important matron in her own right.
While *La Troienne’s family has exerted the majority of its influence in the United States, Adargatis’ clan has spread throughout the world. Stallions tracing to her have been among the leading sires in such diverse areas as Columbia (Pharatis); England (Pardal); New Zealand (Gabador) and the U.S. (Cornish Prince). If her daughters were not the equal of *La Troienne’s, she nontheless left one memorable American branch through Donatella, her 1938 daughter by Tourbillon who is the dam of Tellaris.
Tellaris’ family was developed in this country by George D. Widener and eventually branched out to include Jim Dandy winner and fine broodmare sire Cornish Prince; Norfolk Stakes and Del Mar Futurity winner Groshawk; Long Look Handicap winner Bug Eyed Betty and last but certainly not least Kentucky Derby winner and Horse of the Year Spend A Buck, to name only the top few.
Since Spend A Buck is undoubtedly the best racehorse descending from Adargatis ever to perform in this country, it is noteworthy that his pedigree informs us that his blood is even richer than one might think. Not only is he a direct descendent of Adargatis but he also has two crosses of *La Troienne through his sire Buckaroo. If he is any example of what happens when the two sisters meet in a pedigree, it is reason enough to consider daughters of Spend A Buck good broodmare prospects!
The second dam of Adargatis and *La Troienne, the St. Denis matron Lady of Pedigree, was bred by the Joel stud which is discussed in our story on Our Lassie. Lady of Pedigree was out of the mare Doxa, a full sister to Absurdity, dam of One Thousand Guineas and Oaks winner Jest and St. Leger winner Black Jester. Joel sold Lady of Pedigree (in foal to Dark Ronald) to Lord Clonmel in 1913 and he in turn bred her to the rather common Helicon, a son of Cyllene.
Although far from an outstanding racehorse, Helicon eventually made a name for himself as a broodmare sire and the foal that Lady of Pedigree produced to his cover was Helene de Troie, who was herself no great success as a racehorse, ending up as a steeplechaser.
Helene de Troie raced in the colors of Mr. Jefferson Davis Cohn who tried her on the flat without much success before selling her to Marcel Boussac, who was assembling his first broodmare band, in September of her sophomore season. Boussac also tried her on the flat before putting her over the fences in a rather ruthless campaign. If nothing else, Helene de Troie proved herself tough, running in the money for the most part and even surviving a fall. Considering the state of veterinary medicine in 1920-21, it is nerve-wracking to think that one bad jump might have cost the Thoroughbred breed both Adargatis and her great sister.
Helene de Troie’s Teddy daughter *La Troienne, was foaled in 1925, did nothing impressive at the racetrack, and was culled by Boussac for sale to the United States. One can only wonder what Boussac would think of his culling criteria were he alive today!
Still, one can hardly fault his thinking. Adargatis was a far better racemare, winning Boussac’s first Prix de Diane for him in 1934. That classic victory alone earned her a place in the Fresnay-Le-Buffard broodmare band and she was bred to the best sires of the time – Tourbillon, Pharos and Pharis.
Adargatis’ most important racing offspring were the colts Ardan and Pardal, full brothers by Pharis. Ardan was foaled in 1941 and was the superior racer, winning the French Derby, Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud. He was champion at both three and four.
Pardal was not so good a racehorse, but he was a success on the course, winning the Great Yorkshire, Jockey Club and Princess of Wales Stakes and running third in the Irish Derby. Interestingly enough, Pardal proved the better sire of the two.
Ardan stood for three years in France before being imported to stand in the U.S. where he took up residence at Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky. Unfortunately, he was an abject failure in the U.S., though he sired good horses like Hard Sauce (whose sire line was later responsible for Epsom Derby winner Hard Ridden), Damaka and Dacia while still in France.
Pardal on the other hand got many good horses among them Derby winner Psidium; Champagne Stakes winner Eudamon; Pardao, successful in the U.S. in the San Juan Capistrano Handicap and Jockey Club Gold Cup; Ascot Gold Cup winner Parbury; and City and Suburban Handicap winner Firestreak, who outdid himself when siring Snow Knight. Snow Knight not only won the Epsom Derby, he competed successfully in both Canada and the U.S. In Canada he beat such great fillies as Dahlia and *Comtesse de Loir and in the U.S. he won the Man o’ War (on disqualification) and the Manhattan, Brighton Beach and Seneca Handicaps on his own, earning the champion turf horse title in America in 1975. Snow Knight eventually went to stud at Windfields Farm in Canada, but he did not sire to his remarkable race record.
As a producer of broodmares Adargatis did somewhat better, in large part because of the contributions of Donatella, her 1938 daughter by Tourbillon. Donatella’s daughters Manaia is responsible for a number of excellent group winners in Brazil as is Kardama. But it is the mare Tellaris (by Pharis) that is Donatella’s greatest legacy.
Tellaris was bred by Marcel Boussac, but like *La Troienne was culled and sold to U.S. interests. In 1951 she was purchased by George D. Widener for $25,000 from the broodmare dispersal of Coldstream Stud. Widener would soon discover that he had purchased a bargain and in Tellaris, we have a glimpse of what Adargatis might have done in America if she had been imported like her sister *La Troienne.
For Widener, Tellaris produced Acorn Stakes winner Teleran by Eight Thirty, who became the dam of Cornish Prince, a good sire but excellent broodmare sire and the mare Mysore, second dam of multiple stakes winner Silver Comet. Her daughter Armorial by Battlefield placed in the Spinaway and Matron and hers is the branch from which Spend A Buck descends, while Tellair, a full sister to Teleran, is the third dam of $355,207 Bug Eyed Betty, a multiple graded stakes performer. Finally, Tellaris produced the Gallant Man horse Top Gallant who won the Seminole Handicap and placed in the Wood Memorial and Withers Stakes.
Donatella was not the only good producing daughter of Adargatis. Her Thor daughter Allegrice foaled St. Leger winner Annubis and several of her daughters are minor stakes producers. Bellarga, her 1952 Djebel daughter, foaled Prix de Minerve placed Albara who is the second dam of Prix de Lutece winner Anazid.
To those students of pedigrees who admire *La Troienne as the greatest matron ever imported to these shores, Adargatis may seem rather ordinary. However, she did not have the opportunity that *La Troienne did to test her producing abilities with the faster American stock available to her sister. That the family could survive in tale-female is readily apparent through Tellaris’ contributions and she was not bred to quality sires like Black Toney, Blue Larkspur and Balladier to whose court *La Troienne was regularly sent. Neither were her daughters’ daughters fortunate enough to end up with such homes as Ogden Phipps’ stable or Greentree Stud, which is where the majority of *La Troienne’s female offspring went after the Bradley dispersal.
Spend A Buck is also proof positive that this family can produce a superior racehorse in this country and he should not be sold short. Because he did not sire the “big horse”, Spend A Buck was sold to Louisiana where he currently stands at stud. Hardly a failure, he has gotten at least 16 stakes winners from six crops. But there are other horses with Adargatis blood, namely Groshawk, Snow Knight, Top Gallant and Cornish Prince. Crossing any of these horses then sending the resultant foal to a horse with double *La Troienne would be a very powerful way in which to combine the blood of these immortal sisters.
There is also a very important mare who is inbred to Adargatis which is well worth knowing about and that is Cornish Runnerr, dam of the very good sire Carr de Naskra. The inbreeding appears via three-quarter siblings *Tellaris and *Ardan on a 3 x 2 pattern.
This means that wherever her bloodline appears in the future (and it will probably be most plentiful via the daughters of Carr de Naskra), a horse carrying that bloodline will be ideal for crossing to Seattle Slew, who is inbred to *La Troienne, thus effecting a double of each three-quarter sister.
Cornish Runner has already produced the State Dinner horse Under Orders by Buckpasser’s son State Dinner. Under Orders won over $200,000 and had one line of *La Troienne via Buckpasser’s cross of Businesslike, crossed on Cornish Runner’s two of Adargatis. Unfortunately, the mare was barren to the Fappiano horse Defensive Play, who had two *La Troienne crosses.
One of the biggest frustrations with Cornish Runner is that she has had mostly sons. In fact, 10 of her 13 foals have been male. One of her daughters, stakes placed Pink Tomato by Vanlandingham, was sent to Japan and left behind two male offspring in this country. (In 1996 she produced a Tony Binn filly in Japan).
Cornish Runner’s daughter Lake Case, by Vice Regent, placed at the races and she has produced a three-quarter sister to Carr de Naskra called Powerful Package, who has won almost $40,000 to date. Her other two offspring are both colts.
In 1998, Cornish Runner produced a filly by European champion St. Jovite. She was barren in 1999 and is in foal for 2000 to Sekari, who has two *La Troienne crosses via Businesslike and Better Self, so her latest offspring will have the magic four-way cross, and we hope she produces a filly.
Cornish Runner turned 24 in 2000 but if she has no problems foaling, she will be bred again. We’d love to see that be to a son of Seattle Slew, or to Seattle Slew himself for that matter. After all, she has earned it.
Adargatis, like *La Troienne, was sired by a solid Chef-de-Race. *La Troienne, of course, was by Teddy while Adargatis was by Teddy’s son Asterus. Teddy’s sire Ajax won at almost two miles while his dam won at 1 3/4 mi. and was narrowly beaten at 2 1/4 miles. And while Teddy’s son Sir Gallahad III won at one mile (the French Two Thousand Guineas) and his full brother Bull Dog proved a speed influence in the U.S., Asterus was more a middle distance type, lasting 10 furlongs on class but actually preferring nine. Never was he considered a true classic prospect.
Adargatis shows the half siblings Orme and Blue Green (out of Angelica) 5 x 5 in her pedigree and four Galopin crosses, two of them through St. Simon. Bend Or, Sterling and Hermit are all trebled and Macaroni appears twice. This was the creme dela creme of the European blood available at the time and Adargatis was herself bred along the same classic lines. One can only look back and wonder at what might have happened had the U.S. been fortunate enough to have not only *La Troienne but her baby sister as well.
Adargatis, however, gave the breed some precious gifts and they should never be overlooked, nor should the importance of crossing her lesser-known blood back to her more important sister. In the hope that the horribly-named but wonderfully talented Bug Eyed Betty or another of Tellaris’ clan comes through with a marvelous producing daughter, we will for the time being honor only Adargatis and Tellaris with inclusion on the Reine-de-Course list. Do not mistake this mare’s lack of quantity for lack of quality.