The creation and maintenance of the Reine-de-Course list was an idea born from three discussions: One with a friend’s father who is now suffering from Alzheimers; one from a series of letters with our dear late friend Leon Rasmussen and finally the original inspiration, a series of stories on Broodmares of the Year written by another later friend, Bob Stokhaug. We had always planned to expand on Bob’s American Matriarch series to include historical matriarchs like Mumtaz Mahal, Selene, Plucky Liege, *La Troienne and the like and we have done that.
However, as time moved on (we began the series in November of 1991) we also found that a wide variety of ‘home-grown’ types deserved their place on the list. Sometimes, as with Brighton View, it is a case of preserving old bloodlines that are under appreciated. Often these lines have been held by a single family – the most notable branch of this line was held by Verne Winchell, for example. Thus, it is occasionally a function of fleshing out some sparser lines that have not been given enough credit, and Brighton View belongs in this category, too.
As with most Reines-de-Course we have had a fair amount of experience with this bloodline, as one of its best members, Olympio, was among our all-time favorite horses. We wrote about him many times, discussed him with Joan Winchell who owned and bred him with her husband, the above-mentioned Verne, and mourned him with our friend and client Ellen Jackson at whose Victory Rose Thoroughbreds near Vacaville, Calif., he died in 2011.
There was only one Olympio, but the family lives on through other lines like Paddy O’Prado who stands at Spendthrift Farm near Lexington, Ky. and whose first foals arrived this year and through first year sire Tapizar who won the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile for – who else – the Winchell family. It is a family that can sprint and stay, can do G1 work on main track or turf, can produce and sire. In other words, it’s an all-American classic.
The Pedigree of Brighton View
To look at the pedigree of Brighton View is to take a walk into history. The daughter of Swynford-line Tuscany from the Fritz Maisel (Domino-line) mare Evening Sun, traces to the Feronia (8-D) branch of the Bustler Mare family. And while they are not closely related, it is rather intriguing to note that this particular line also bred Bold Ruler.
The close-up inbreeding in Brighton View’s pedigree is unique: She is linebred to Sanda (Sainfoin x2/Sierra/Golden Garter x2); 5 x 5 to full siblings Pennant/Transvaal (Commando-Royal Rose); a cross of full siblings Ajax and Adam (Flying Fox-Amie) via her broodmare sire only; a double of Quiver (La Fleche/Maid Marian) supported only by her sire and an overall double of Cinderella via Slippers and Plaudit.
Male lines inbred to include Peter Pan, Star Shoot and Rock Sand. An even closer look reveals linebreeding to breed-shapers like Birdcatcher and Lexington, and no less than 139 occurrences of Pocahontas, the so-called large-heart mare. (That this is not considered an ‘x-factor line’ is confusing to us to say the least. 139 crosses had to have an effect on the ability of the family line to produce large hearts. How can it not?)
Brighton View was bred by James Brown. Her nine named foals were produced for D. S. W. Associates; Edwin Wade; Bruce Haak, Jr. and Due Process.
Brighton View’s dam, Evening Sun, was also bred by James Brown.
Light Verse, the daughter of Brighton View who has done the best work to date, was by the *Turn-to horse Reverse (and out of Miss Grundy, a full sister to 1957 Kentucky Derby winner Iron Liege). Bred by D. S. W. Associates, Light Verse did not race but has become the major agent through which Brighton View’s name has thrived in pedigrees. We will detail her history after a brief look at the other Brighton View daughters.
Good By Association
Though she has no other daughter who compares to Light Verse, Brighton View also produced several other good individuals. Her stakes winning daughter Weekend Fun was the second dam of G2 California Derby winner All Thee Power, whose tragedy-riddled race became known at the San Francisco Bay area track as the ‘Demolition Derby’.
The year was 1988 and the trouble began in the paddock when Slewbop began acting up, stirring up several other participants including All Thee Power. The paddock crowd grew uneasy, beginning to sense that something was about to happen when the ‘riders up’ call finally came. Twisting and turning their way onto the track, a group of nine horses led by the beautiful Flying Victor began their march toward what would ultimately be if not the best, certainly the most dramatic California Derby of all time.
When the gates opened, the erratic Slewbop got the jump on his foes and was soon locked in a duel with Ruhlmann. At the 15/16th pole of the nine furlong race, Flying Victor bobbed on the ‘good’ (read muddy) track and pulled up. He never ran again but did go to stud and was a moderate success in his native California.
In the meantime Ruhlmann had wrested the lead from Slewbop who eventually ran third but was moved up to second. The reason for the DQ was a bearing out Bel Air Dancer who caused Ruhlmann to clip heels and go down. At first he appeared to have broken his neck but the gallant black colt soon shook himself, rose unsteadily and regained his feet. Ruhlmann would later win the G1 Santa Anita Handicap and more.
While most spectators were involved in the Ruhlmann horror story, All Thee Power had taken total control of the race under Laffit Pincay, Jr. He won by eight lengths ‘handily’ but he would never win again. In fact, he didn’t even make it back to the winner’s circle; he had won the race with a broken knee.
All Thee Power’s courage was authored by the courage of his sire Mr. Leader, but does much credit to the blood of Brighton View. After surgery, All Thee Power, the victim of a muddy track and a Raise a Native-line sire (Lines of Power) went to stud in California but sadly did not leave much behind of note.
This branch of the family lives on, however, via the good branch of All Tanked Up, who has produced three stakes horses.
Another daughter branch of Brighton View, Worlds of Fun by Dead Ahead, is out there struggling along, but barely. There is a small chance for the Spectacular Bid mare Bid of Fun’s line to still get something in California. One can hope.
Carols Christmas and the Winchells
We believe this family would have done well in any hands, but it sometimes a confluence of ideas and bloodlines has much to do with a good family becoming a great one. In the hands of Verne Winchell and his heirs, the Light Verse line via Carols Christmas became great.
Bred by Virgil Hash and Kinney Hounshell, Carols Christmas was sold as a just-turned yearling to Johnny Jones for $3,200. She was re-sold in September of the same year for $4,000 to Wayne Spurling. But her days as a commodity were not quite behind her.
In March of 1981 Winchell claimed Carols Christmas for a mere $25,000. Such was the price of a dynasty; Carols Christmas had come home.
Using good but not necessarily commercial sires, the breeders developed the line to include G2 winner Wild Wonder, his full sister Call Now, the second dam of Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Tapizar; G1 Forego winner Pyro; G1 winner Paddy O’Prado, G1 winner and sire Cuvee and of course Olympio to name just a few.
Though he is gone now, we still believe Olympio was the best – and toughest – member of the line. When researching this story we came upon our favorite article written at the height of his racing career. Quoting from it here seems the best way to re-visit this gorgeous fellow who gave as much love as he got in his lifetime.
“….this little war horse of the 1991 classic division won stakes at Golden Gate Fields, Santa Anita, Oaklawn, Canterbury, Hollywood and Arlington Park. In his first grass race, he ran second by a short head after losing a shoe in the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes; in his second, he won the faster division of the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby.
“Yes, a G1 win had eluded Olympio until the Hollywood Derby, but he had beaten a large number of G1 winners including Dinard, Best Pal, Corporate Report, Lite Light, Lost Mountain, Strike the Gold and Jackie Wackie. Further, the American Derby which Olympio won in track record time in his first attempt at 10 furlongs was formerly a G1 race won by such stalwarts as Round Table, Damascus, Buckpasser, Tom Rolfe, Smarten and Crème Fraiche.
“Olympio also had to overcome a handful of physical problems. Early in the year he was plagued by splints, a problem he finally overcame. But he also possessed shelley feet which caused him to lose shoes in important races like the Preakness and Secretariat Stakes. In the Super Derby he fought valiantly to beat back the home court advantage of Free Spirit’s Joy while wrenching a knee so badly that trainer Ron McAnally thought at first that he had broken it. So the sailing was not always smooth for our little hero.
“He also developed a unique running style which caused some of his fans to gasp in dismay only to end up cheering in welcome relief. Olympio would press the pace, fall back, then come again – as if one victory per race was not enough to fill his insatiable lust for having his head in front. What a racehorse!”
Time and again we have remembered those races and remembering them now makes us miss him all the more. Eclipse award winning writer Jay Hovedy shared our enthusiasm, writing that Olympio was so versatile he would not be surprised if Ron McAnally could teach him to change light bulbs or shuffle cards.
Yes, this lovely little horse was a wonderful blend of his grand old family, perhaps as much a preview of good things to come as All Thee Power was meant to be, and a never really appreciated sire in Naskra. For a time it seemed he might salvage Naskra’s sire line, but sadly that one son in a sea of Northern Dancer and Mr. Prospector blood did not materialize and unless there is a son somewhere we cannot find, the line is gone.
However, Olympio’s blood is not gone. He is the broodmare sire of Louisiana-based Lion Tamer, winner of the G1 Cigar Mile. If anyone out there remembers Olympio, that alone should fill his book!
The New Kid on the Block
When Tapizar won the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, he underlined the classy speed the Brighton View line has long held as its forte. He also won for the Winchell family who bought and raced – but did not breed – his sire, Tapit.
As a total Winchell-bred, Tapizar represents the next generation of this family line. And the nice part about it is that he will not be the last, though one would have preferred he ran more often, something we blame on his brilliant but brittle sire.
Tapizar alone has several sisters and although we have lost Pyro to Japan he did leave a few foals in the U. S. Though Cuvee was sold to Turkey, his best son, G1 winner Noble’s Promise, is at stud in Indiana. Of course there is also Lion Tamer and Wild Wonder left behind a handful of good stake horses led by Wild Fit and Fusaichi Rock Star. So there is a way to inbreed to the family if one has the urge to do so. We would highly recommend it – particularly if Olympio is involved. We know there are some daughters out there – don’t hesitate to ‘work’ them. If they have half his heart they will give you a worthy runner.
For the time being, we will name just Brighton View and Carols Christmas as Reines-de-Course. As always when we name just one daughter branch we hope to be able to add to the family line. This is an old-time family of warriors – use them well!