One of the most prized assets of the Thoroughbred racehorse is versatility. So it only follows that those families which contain a large number of very different, but equally excellent runners, are among the most prized of the breed.
When it comes to versatility, few can match the family of the Blue Larkspur daughter Alablue. Her descendents have captured such diverse Grade I races as the Hollywood Gold Cup; the Joe McGrath Memorial Stakes in Ireland; the Coaching Club American Oaks, the Futurity Stakes, the Lawrence Realization Stakes, the Santa Anita Derby, the Metropolitan Handicap, the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, the O.K. Gold Bowl in South Africa, the Florida Derby and the Prix de La Foret in France. In other words, they can do just about anything – and have.
Blue Larkspur, sire of Alablue, is among the greatest broodmare sires ever bred in this country and is a classic Chef-de-Race. His male line is that of the firey speed influence Domino, his dam a descendent of Col. E. R. Bradley’s foundation matron Padua. In fact, Blue Larkspur was inbred to Padua 3 x 4 via two daughters.
As often happens with a horse inbred to an excellent broodmare, Blue Larkspur became a fine racehorse. A good two-year-old, he won the Juvenile and National Stallion Stakes and placed in the Saratoga Special.
At three he won the Withers, Belmont, and Arlington Classic and was named champion of his age and sex. He came back from a bowed tendon suffered late in his sophomore year to win stakes again at four.
In tale-female Alablue traced to Maggie B. B., the dam of Panique (Belmont Stakes); Harold (Preakness); and Iroquois (Epsom Derby and St. Leger). Maggie B. B.’s other descendents include Kentucky Derby winners Middleground and Lawrin; Preakness victor Faultless and Belmont Stakes winners Sir Dixon and Crusader. To call these classic roots is only to state the obvious.
Alablue was bred by Mereworth Farm and was sold for $42,000 to A. C. Ernst at the Keeneland yearling sale. She became a good racemare, winning the now G1 Test and also placed in the now G1 Alabama.
Her owner had died in 1948 and she was sold first to Mill River Stable for $72,000 and later to Normandy Farm for $37,000. Mill River bred her first foal, the *Rico Monte filly In The Blue. Today her branch is one of the sparsest of Alablue’s family.
Alablue’s produce record improved immediately upon the birth of her second foal, Alanesian, born April 28, 1954 at Normandy Farm. Because farm owner E. Barry Ryan was facing some tax problems, she was sold along with four other yearlings to William Haggin Perry and L. P. Doherty (owner of The Stallion Station).
Alanesian went on to become an excellent runner, winning the Spinaway and Astarita Stakes and placing in several other added-money attractions. As a producer, she simply shone.
Her best racehorse was, of course, the *Princequillo filly *Princessnesian, winner of the Hollywood Gold Cup over males and the now G1 Santa Margarita on her way to career earnings of $332,035. Princessnesian has been a good producer, too, foaling stakes winner Lords and stakes producer Bold Enchantress.
One contribution of Alanesian’s that cannot be overlooked was her Bold Ruler son Boldnesian, winner of the 1966 Santa Anita Derby. At stud, he sired a horse named Bold Reasoning who himself sired only two and a half crops. But in the first crop, he got Seattle Slew.
Amalesian, an *Ambiorix filly, also enriched the family. Among her most famous contributions are champion Revidere and the good stakes winner Bio.
Alanesian foaled four more stakes producers before her death on March 20, 1977, at Claiborne Farm. Just hours prior to her death she had delivered a filly by Jacinto who never raced but produced G3 winner Lawyer Talk, a winner of $374,960.
It is easy to dwell on Alanesian when discussing Alablue, but she had many more gifts to give American breeding. One of these was the Hill Prince colt Middle Brother, who raced for Normandy Farm. Slow to develop at two, he found himself at three. Laboring in the shadow of champion Sword Dancer, Middle Brother was among the best stayers of his generation, winning the 1 5/8 mi. Lawrence Realization and running second in the 10-furlong Travers and 1 3/16 mi. Dwyer. Unfortunately, he was something less than spectacular as a sire.
Although Alablue’s daughter Miss Citation is the third dam of Metropolitan Handicap winner Proper Reality and $535,311 stakes winner Satin Ribera and Kind Thought’s branch contains Breeders’ Cup Sprint victor Thirty Slews, Alablue’s only other really major daughter was the Dedicate matron Mock Orange.
Perhaps no branch of this family is more versatile than Mock Orange’s own. Part of the credit belongs to her sire, the champion handicap male of 1957, Dedicate. A wonderful racehorse, Dedicate won such important fixtures as the Brooklyn, Monmouth and John B. Campbell Handicaps and the Woodward and Whitney Stakes while on his way to earnings of $533,200 (racing in the early ’50’s). Dedicate never made a huge name for himself as a sire, but he did get the co-champion two-year-old filly of 1962, Smart Deb and the champion and broodmare of the year Natashka. What Dedicate lacked in quantity of major offspring, he made up for in quality.
The most highly recognizable name among Mock Orange’s descendents is the tough Cryptoclearance, an earner of $3.3 million. Brilliant in victory and valiant in defeat against the best of his generation, which included Alysheba, Java Gold, Gulch and Bet Twice, Cryptoclearance won nine major stakes including the Widener and Don Handicaps, the Florida Derby and the Pegasus Handicap. He also placed in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, the Travers, the Preakness, the Whitney and the Kentucky Derby. In all, Cryptoclearance ran 44 times, quite a lot by today’s standards, and he has proven a useful sire. His best offspring to date are classic winner and champion Victory Gallop and 2002 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Volponi.
Cryptoclearance’s son Ride The Rails, winner of the Foolish Pleasure Breeders’ Cup Stakes and second in the Florida Derby, is inbred 4 x 3 to Alablue. Two other good ones, Strategic Maneuver and Volponi are inbred to Mr. Prospector, not the soundest of crosses.
Cryptoclearance is actually speed-bred with his Fappiano/Hoist the Flag cross. However, deeper in his pedigree is a 5 x 4 sex-balanced cross of *Princequillo which shone through during his racing career. Now that he is a stallion, this aspect of his pedigree can be exploited to help his get stretch out and get over the hump from precocity to classic horse. Those who ignore this history lesson are doomed to repeat it.
Alablue’s pedigree we described briefly at the start, but there is a great deal more to say. She is inbred 6 x 5 to Derby winner Hermit through two daughters; 6 x 6 sex-balanced to St. Leger winner Wenlock supported entirely by her dam, Double Time; 5 x 6 sex-balanced to Derby winner Bend Or, scion of the Phalaris line; and 6 x 6 sex-balanced to Hampton, scion of the Hyperion and Son-in-Law lines. The most interesting aspect, however, of Alablue’s pedigree is a 6 x 6 x 6 x 5 cross of Galopin and his full sister Vex. The Galopin is sex-balanced through two sons and a daughter.
When Alablue was bred to Polynesian to get Alanesian, the mating produced two more Galopin crosses, both through St. Simon. In addition, Polynesian’s female cross of Sundridge balanced Alablue’s male cross and his female cross of Black Toney balanced her male cross. The lone inbreeding which does not match is the Sainfoin double which Polynesian carries, and even these crosses carry a double of Stockwell, which aligns with Bend Or and a cross of Wenlock which meets up with the double in Alablue’s dam’s pedigree, albeit rather far back in the pedigree.
In the case of Mock Orange, sire Dedicate is direct Galopin line, so that aspects works nicely. He also adds a male cross of Ben Brush to Alablue’s female cross. Most interestingly is his cross of the horse Disguise, a Domino half brother to Belgravia, who appears in the fourth generation of Alablue’s pedigree. This gives Mock Orange a 5 x 5 cross of half siblings Disguise and Belgravia. As these horses are male and female, they also effectively sex balance their dam Bonnie Gal. Finally, Dedicate adds another male cross of Gallinule, who once more brings Stockwell inbreeding to match up with the Bend Or.
Alablue’s family is currently in need of a good sire to replace Boldnesian. Cryptoclearance is the natural successor. But while he has shown he can get the occasional “big” horse, he is inconsistent and his ability to breed on in tail-male has yet to be proven.
One of the more unfortunate things about this family is that Thirty Slews was a gelding. Inbred to Alablue and hailing from Boldnesian’s sire line, he had the mare’s influence through both his tale-male and tale-female ancestors, a most powerful aspect.
This family has long been famous for having dormant branches spring to life. This is certainly what happened with Satin Ribera. Her dam Ribera was unplaced, her granddam, No Reason unraced, her great-granddam Miss Citation unplaced. Suddenly Satin Ribera comes along and wins stakes and places in the G1 Fantasy. Gabina is another example. Her dam and granddam were winners, her great-grandam, Mock Orange, unraced. Then up pops Gabina and wins the Prix de La Foret. The message here is that this family can reawaken when carefully bred. Generally, one stays away from a family which is three-deep into its black type, but with Alablue you can afford to gamble a little.
For her ability to consistently produce excellent horses who compete at the highest levels world-wide, for her versatility, for her wonderful surprises like Thirty Slews, we honor Alablue and her daughters Alanesian and Mock Orange as one branch of Maggie B. B. designated as Reines-de-Course. We’ve enjoyed their gifts to racing for many years.