Just as mares like Almahmoud and Boudoir II are sire-source mares, so too are some mares sources of prepotent broodmares. These mares so dominate their families that they are said to lend a “sex bias” to their descendents, i.e. the fillies are better than the colts and the mares are better producers than the stallions are sires.
Such a mare is Bourtai, a daughter of Stimulus from the Sir Gallahad III mare Escutcheon. Among the more important females which descend from this mare are Broodmares of the Year Delta and Levee; multiple champion Shuvee; and other female champions Talking Picture and Sacahuista. Of the stallions in the family, only Slew o’ Gold can be called a successful sire, and he has fallen off in popularity in recent years. As a broodmare sire, he may do better, though he is not off to a very fast start.
Bourtai’s dam, Escutcheon, was bred by department store heir Marshall Field for whom she won the 1930 Alabama Stakes. In addition to Bourtai, Escutcheon would eventually foal Kentucky Oaks winner Mars Shield plus Strange Device (fourth dam of Belmont Stakes winner Creme Fraiche) and Demolition (second dam of champion Smart Deb and third dam of Metropolitan Mile winner Gold and Myrrh). None of them, however, outdid Bourtai as producers.
In 1943 Boutai was sold for $5500 to Sylvester W. Labrot, Jr. at the Fasig-Tipton yearling sale in Kentucky. She failed to win a stake in his colors, but placed in the Pimlico Nursery Stakes and earned $3850.
Labrot dispersed his stock in 1951 and Bourtai was sold to A. B. “Bull” Hancock’s Claiborne Farm. In foal to *Nasrullah, her in utero offspring would eventually carry Claiborne’s all-gold silks as Delta, a winner of $269,215 and six stakes including the Arlington Lassie. Thus Bourtai’s first foal for Claiborne cast the die for her future role as a producer of producers, though had she not begun with Delta nor would she finish there.
Her first foal, a colt by Swing And Sway called Ribard, was a winner; her second, a filly by Pilate named Salaza, was also a winner and would become ancestress of some minor stakes horses; her third, Banta by Some Chance, was a stakes winner who would found the important branch of the family which contains champion Talking Picture and her offspring; her gelded son by Jet Pilot named Four to Go raced 228 times and earned over $44,000 while his stallion full brother, Sir Boss, was stakes placed and ran 233 times, earning $53,277.
Only after Sir Boss would Delta enter the picture, then later would come Levee and Bayou, the latter to become the ancestess of Slew o’ Gold and Coastal. So beyond a doubt, with the exception of Banta, Claiborne’s influence on this family helped elevate it to its superior status.
In all, the Bourtai clan can be divided into four major branches: Banta by Some Chance; Delta by *Nasrullah and the two Hill Prince sisters Levee and Bayou. All won stakes.
Banta, the eldest of the group, has a family with a decided Elmendorf Farm flavor. Her son Mandate by Prince John was a stakes winner and her daughter Golden Sari by *Ambiorix founded an important branch of her own.
Golden Sari foaled the Prince John horse Selari who earned almost $200,000 and won or placed in such important races as the Gulfstream and Widener Handicaps and the Jersey Derby. Silver Sari, a winner, is the dam of $673,117 earner Big Spruce, winner of the Marlboro Cup, San Luis Rey and Gallant Fox Handicaps. Sire of over 40 stakes winners including Acaroid, Super Moment and Sweet Diane, Big Spruce’s daughters have produced 28 more added-money winners including $2 million earner Nostalgia’s Star and millionaire Stalwars. Big Spruce was pensioned in early 1997.
Another of Silver Sari’s offspring, Manta by Ben Lomond, earned over $520,000 and won or placed in the Santa Margarita, Beverly Hills and Santa Barbara Handicaps. Unfortunately to date Manta has been a disappointment as a broodmare. However her half sister Jabot by Bold Ruler, a Grade 3 stakes winner, is the dam of $500,000 earner Encolure.
Silver Sari’s half sister Royal Folly by Tom Fool also established a good branch of the family. She is dam of stakes winner Majestic Folly by Alydar; Louisiana Derby winner Prince Valiant by Stage Door Johnny and Group 3 winner Polski Boy by Danzig Connection. In addition, her winning Stage Door Johnny daughter Heartbreak foaled the late Grade 1 winning millionaire Thirty Six Red (by Slew o’ Gold) who was inbred to Bourtai.
Poster Girl, an unraced daughter of *Nasrullah, foaled an excellent branch of Banta’s clan. Her daughter Talking Picture, champion two year old filly of 1973, has foaled five stakes winners to date: Champion Irish miler Easy to Copy; Irish One thousand Guineas winner Trusted Partner; listed stakes winner Guaranteed Income; Grade 3 stakes winner Low Key Affair; and stakes winner and group stakes placed Epicure’s Garden. All of her group horses are by champion Affirmed.
Yet another important descendent of Poster Girl is Honor Maid, an unplaced daughter of Prince John. Honor Maid foaled the ill-fated millionaire Honor Medal, who won or placed in 35 stakes through the age of nine when he broke down and died on the racetrack. His half sister, Sweet Maid by Proud Clarion, earned $284,446 and won the June Darling Stakes and placed in the Grade 3 California Jockey Club Handicap. She is dam of the minor stakes winner Jestic.
In addition, Poster Girl foaled stakes winner Illustrious; stakes producer Middle Cornish; and Amban, second dam of stakes placed Susie’s Warm Front. Banta herself foaled one other stakes producer, Bright Talk, dam of stakes placed Close Attention.
The DELTA branch of Bourtai’s clan is a massive one as befits a Broodmare of the year. Her stakes winning sons include Dike and Okavango by *Herbager and Canal and Cabildo by Round Table. All won or placed in what are now graded races, only Okavango (1970) being young enough to win after graded races were initiated.
The first of Delta’s major producing daughters is Shore by Round Table. A stakes winner herself, Shore foaled stakes placed Eleven Pelicans; Chicago Bid and Alligatrix. Alligatrix, by Alleged, is the dam of two stakes winners including graded stakes placed Persianalli (IRE). In addition, Shore foaled stakes producer Desolate Sands, dam of $105,000 stakes winner Lonely Beach.
Another of Delta’s Round Table daughters, Moss, was stakes placed and was an excellent producer. Her daughter Polonia by Danzig, was a Group 2 winner in England and was champion sprinter in France. Peat Moss, a gelding by *Herbager, was one of the hardiest old campaigners ever to be seen on the East coast, winning or placing in 10 stakes and once carrying 142 pounds to victory in a handicap. Moss also foaled stakes placed Louboff, and stakes producer Milova, dam of Barbarina and Orlanova.
A third Round Table daughter, Theta, is also a stakes producer. She did not win stakes, but among her offspring are stakes placed Buckmaster and stakes producers Jillys Joy, Padova, Ambre Line and Presentiment.
Venice, a three quarter sister to Theta, Moss and Shore by Round Table’s sire *Princequillo, foaled Grade 3 stakes winner Naples, dam of stakes placed Pandisco and Basin, a daughter of Tom Rolfe, is the second dam of major winner Silver Ending and Australian stakes winner Te Akau Pearl.
LEVEE, like Delta, has a branch befitting her status as Broodmare of the Year. Among her most beloved offspring is Shuvee, the marvelous Nashua mare who was twice champion handicap mare and who twice defeated colts in the Jockey Club Gold Cup when it was raced at two miles. Shuvee did even more, however, winning major stakes like the Ladies and Diana Handicaps, the Selima Stakes, and the filly Triple Crown of the Acorn and Mother Goose Stakes and the Coaching Club American Oaks. Shuvee was one for the ages, and she was also a pretty good producer.
Among her sons and daughters were stakes winners Shukey, Tom Swift and Benefice and stakes placed Vatza. Though two of her daughters have produced stakes placed horses, they are something of a disappointment in light of their dam’s stellar record.
Shuvee is only part of the Levee story. Levee’s son Royal Gunner won $334,650 and daughter Nalee, a full sister to Shuvee, won the Black Eyed Susans and two other stakes and foaled a whole group of nice winners.
Everyone recognizes Nalee’s foals. Most of them have her name attached. There are stakes winners Nalees Folly (G3) and Nalees Man (also G3) plus stakes placed Nalees Knight, Nalees Rialto and Nalee’s Fantasy (also a stakes producer). then there is the Irish St. Leger winner Meneval; stakes placed Take Warning, dam of stakes winners Foretake (G3), No Bend (G3) and Heed Warning plus stakes placed Traffic Warning.
Additionally, there is stakes placed Pretty Fancy, dam of Bold L. B. and stakes placed Winfield Honor, and Nalees Flying Flag, a story in herself.
Nalees Flying Flag was an unraced daughter of Hoist the Flag, but she foaled the tough stakes winning millionairess Sacahuista, champion three year old filly of 1987 and dam of GR3 stakes winner Ekraar (by Red Ransom); Far Flying, a stakes winner of $278,226 plus stakes placed John’s Treasure (second in the Belmont Stakes) and Letty’s Pennant.
Other Levee contributions include stakes winner and producer A. T’s Olie; stakes producer Many Happy Returns; stakes producer Sister Shu (dam of multiple stakes winners Shudanz and Nordance plus Shufleur, dam of multiple stakes winner Manzotti and stakes producer Lulu Mon Amour); Raise The Levee, granddam of Raise Me; and Belle Foulee, dam of stakes winner and multiple stakes producer Goosie and three other stakes winners and/or producers. Make no mistake, Levee lives on.
Finally we come to BAYOU, champion three year old filly of 1957 and a major, enduring part of the Bourtai story. Bayou’s daughter Batteur won the Santa Margarita and other California stakes then foaled Flag Officer, winner of the Illinois Derby. Batteur also foaled Flail by Bagdad, dam of Anifa, a multiple stakes winner and classics placed runner in France; stakes winners Bask and Surf and stakes placed Future Tense.
Bayou Blue by Bold Ruler is the dam of Harbor Flag, she dam of Louisiana Derby winner Country Light; while Pampas Miss by *Pronto foaled stakes placed Samalex (GB); and Slew, by Bold Ruler, is dam of Grade I winner Slew’s Exceller, Slew O’Dyna (in Japan) and multiple stakes producer Youthful Lady. But Bayou’s influence, for all time, will best be reflected in one very special mare named Alluvial, a classic producer.
There was nothing particularly special about unraced Alluvial other than her pedigree. But she was a daughter of Buckpasser from Bourtai’s family, and that allowed her access to the best stallions in the world. The results speak for themselves.
Her son Coastal by Majestic Prince, ended Spectacular Bid’s attempt for a Triple Crown in 1979 by winning the Belmont Stakes. He failed as a sire, however, and ended up in South Africa.
Her 1980 colt by Seattle Slew was Slew O’ Gold, champion three year old colt of 1983 and champion older horse of 1984. But for John Henry sentiment and an ailing hoof which cost him an unbeaten season, he might have been 1984’s Horse of the Year.
Slew O’ Gold started off with a bang as a sire, and he has in fact shown the ability to get a really top class horse. His best runners are champion Golden Opinion; millionaire Gorgeous; millionaire classics-placed Thirty Six Red; Grade 1 winners Awe Inspiring, Dr. Root, Tactile, and $2 million earner Dramatic Gold. Slew o’ Gold has sired almost 20 stakes winners (5%) and at least 10 more stakes placed runners. Slew O’ Gold gets 68% of his foals to the track, sometimes owing to their large size. Oftentimes, of course, big horses are more injury-prone, but as Dramatic Gold has shown, even the biggest and most unsound can go on for a very long time with good handling.
Slew o’ Gold’s stud fee has fallen to $7,500 and he is a bargain at the price. For an owner willing to give his oversized offspring the time they need to develop, he is still a classy stallion and arguably the best one ever to come from this family. As previously mentioned, we believe he is a shoe-in as a broodmare sire and though his daughters are still quite young, they have produced Dixieland Gold (G2), Raw Gold (G2), top sprinter Kona Gold, Miss Ra He Ra (G3), Sneaky Quiet (L, G1 placed), as well as $100,000 earner Golden Half.
Of Slew O’ Gold’s half sisters, the one who has made the most impact to date is the unraced Northern Dancer mare Dokki, dam of Grade I winner Sleep Easy (by Seattle Slew) and Aptitude (by A. P. Indy).
There are a few more Bourtai offspring besides the major producers to discuss. Her Count Fleet daughter Poetic License foaled stakes placed stakes producers Blue Medley and Spoonerism. And finally, Bourtai herself had the minor steeplechase stakes winner Ambassador, a gelding by *Nasrullah, and three other winners: Bethel, Mogul and Louisiana. Only Louisiana was a filly and she failed to produce anything of note.
Bourtai was barren from 1963-1966 (all to the cover of Hill Prince). She lived on for two more years, but old age caught up with her in 1968 and she was humanely destroyed at the age of 26.
Like so many great producers, she lives on to a marked degree in the blood of her many relatives. Mares like Bourtai never really die, or even fade away, they simply continue to enrich.
Concerning Bourtai’s own pedigree, her lineage is awash in history. Her sire Stimulus was by the intensely inbred Ultimus, 2 x 2 to the indomitable Domino, “the fleetest runner the American turf has ever known” and a legend in his own time and beyond.
Stimulus was also inbred to Domino’s great-grandsire Alarm 5 x 5 x 4 through a double of Himyar and the mare The Niece. Alarm, one of the first recognized speed sources of the modern Thoroughbred, was a son of Eclipse who was unbeaten at three and who, of course, founded the Domino line.
Stimulus also has a 4 x 5 cross of Isonomy, scion of the Swynford (Blenheim II) line and a 5 x 5 cross of Leamington (who had once dethroned the great Lexington as leading sire during that great stallion’s heyday).
Bourtai’s dam, Escutcheon by *Sir Gallahad III, had a 5 x 3 cross of Minting, a horse referred to in the literature of the turf as a “great and powerful” racehorse. Minting won the Grand Prix de Paris and became a great broodmare sire. His name is seen most frequently as the sire of Maid of the Mint, dam of Spearmint, sire of the great producer Plucky Liege. Escutcheon was also inbred 5 x 4 to the great sire Bend Or.
When the two were matched, Bourtai inherited all these things plus a 6 x 6 x 6 x 5 cross of Epsom Derby winner Hermit, a great broodmare sire and a 6 x 7 x 6 cross of Bend Or’s sire Doncaster.
The three stallions to whose covers Bourtai produced her best daughters, Some Chance (Banta), Hill Prince (Levee and Bayou) and *Nasrullah (Delta) all brought something different to the inbreeding of Bourtai herself. Some Chance added a third strain of Bend Or and another Amphion cross; Hill Prince added second crosses of Ultimus and Ben Brush; and *Nasrullah added a third cross of Bend Or; a second of Amphion, Spearmint and Ajax and two of St. Simon to make three in all.
Obviously, all three matches worked well enough for the family to thrive not only as racehorses but as producers of future generations. Of the Hill Prince daughters, Bayou was a champion and Levee raced in the shadow of Doubledogdare, but well enough to be recognized as one of the top two or three of her age and sex. Between the two, these fillies won or placed in such major races as the Selima Stakes, Coaching Club American Oaks, Beldame Handicap, Alabama Stakes, Acorn, Gazelle and Maskette Stakes – all current Grade 1’s.
*Nasrullah’s daughter Delta raced in the Midwest, winning the (formerly) Grade 1 Arlington Lassie and also placing in the Arlington Futurity. Some of the other races she won or placed in are no longer in existence or have changed names but it must be remembered that in the 1950’s Chicago racing was akin to anything Southern California or New York had to offer and was of the highest quality, though it did not offer the prestige of New York racing.
Banta’s racing class is more difficult to Judge. She won the Correction in New York, formerly a Grade 3, but she was never considered among the best of her age or sex. Therefore, one tends to lean toward the Hill Prince mating as the strongest of those tried with Bourtai and it is obvious that Claiborne Farm concurred, since the mare was bed to him in all four of her last, barren years. They were hoping for a filly, of course.
There is little to choose between the branches in terms of quality, as all of been responsible for some truly top racehorses. But because of the quality of the Hill Prince fillies and the strength of the *Princequillo line as a producer of fine broodmares, Levee and Bayou probably have a slight edge.
If you are fortunate enough to acquire a mare from this family, just keep in mind that this is a female dominant clan, and one which has enormous impact in that regard on the sires to which it is bred. Reines-de-Course from the Bourtai family are: Bourtai, Aldivia, Alluvial, Banta, Bayou, Delta, Golden Sari, Levee, Nalee and Poster Girl. (Note — Subsequent to the original appearance of this article Alidiva was added).