When one analyzes the various branches of great female families, it is crystal clear that only a few members of even the most prominent lines excel. But when a good mare from a good family lands in the hands of one of America’s great breeders and is subsequently exposed to the best sires, handlers and trainers available, she is going to have something to say about the history of the breed. Thus is the story of Canfli, who made some few contributions apart from Lady Pitt, but whose real worth blossomed in the hands of prominent breeder Ogden Phipps, who has been responsible for bringing out the best in so many excellent groups of mares.
Canfli was bred by W. T. Waggoner and was bred to be precocious. The bay filly was by top-class two-year-old Campfire, winner of the Futurity, Hopeful, Saratoga Special and Sandford Stakes. Her broodmare sire, Jim Gaffney, was also a Hopeful winner and both were male-line descendents of speed-source Bend Or. Canfli got some ‘bottom’ from the sire of her second dam, Sardanapale, winner of the French Derby and Grand Prix de Paris, but her second dam was also inbred to Bend Or, plus she carried three lines of Middle Park winner Albert Victor, a very speedy type.
Though she was never close to a champion, Canfli did win stakes, including the Covington Handicap and Arlington Oaks and she placed in the Clark Handicap. Bred as a five-year-old, her first foal was the stakes winning Heelfly by Swynford-line Royal Ford. Though Heelfly won stakes and placed in the Metropolitan Handicap, his greatest contribution to the sport was as the broodmare sire of top grass runner and excellent sire T. V. Lark.
Three years after Heelfly, Canfli produced the Display mare Flyaway Home, who was bred in the name of Three D’s Stock Farm. Flyaway Home never made it to the races, but was deemed good enough to breed and in 1950 she was covered by Triple Crown winner Whirlaway and produced the chestnut filly Rock Drill.
For breeder Mrs. James S. Trupper, Rock Drill won the Susan Stakes and once retired, she got right to work on an excellent career as a producer. Her first foal, Doug’s Serenade by *Royal Serenade, won the Princess Elizabeth Stakes; her fourth, Rocky Link by Sailor, was a good handicap horse; her sixth, Dash’n Home by Decathlon was unraced but became a good producer. Then in 1963, Rock Drill foaled her best daughter, Lady Pitt, by Horse of the Year Sword Dancer and a year later she got the stakes winner Gunite by Crozier.
Lady Pitt was bred in the name of John W. Greathouse’s Glencrest Farm and was sold to Thomas A. Eazor for $24,000 at the 1964 Keeneland summer yearling sale. Eazor had previously raced Rocky Link, so he was naturally eager to acquire his half sister by a champion runner.
Lady Pitt did not disappoint. A stakes winner at two (the Astarita), she placed in five more important events – the Frizette; Gardenia; Demoiselle; Schuylerville and Astoria Stakes. It is a testament to just how good she was that in the Frizette, she ran second to Priceless Gem, who later defeated Buckpasser in the Futurity; and in the Gardenia she was second to champion Moccasin, who became the only juvenile filly ever to be named Horse of the Year, an honor she shared with the older Roman Brother.
The following year, Lady Pitt blossomed into a major runner. She won two thirds of the filly Triple Crown, the Mother Goose Stakes (over Acorn winner Marking Time, later the dam of Relaxing and second dam of Easy Goer) and the Coaching Club American Oaks and also scored victories in the Delaware Oaks and Vineland Handicap. In addition, she placed in several other important contests, including the Kentucky Oaks (to Native Street) and the Alabama Stakes (to Natashka).
The Coaching Club American Oaks was her crowning moment and trainer Steve DiMauro, who was especially fond of the filly, gave the chestnut a hug upon her return to the winner’s circle. (DiMauro went on to win three Eclipse Awards in 1975, the year his trainees Dearly Precious and Wajima were crowned champions and he was named trainer of the year).
In the Blood Horse’s Oaks coverage, it was noted that Lady Pitt “had her ways”, which included a peculiar, choppy gait most noticeable when she was warming up. Some observers thought the filly was not entirely sound because of this odd stride, but DiMauro said this was not so and NYRA veterinarian Manuel Gilman confirmed this.
“That is just her way of going,” said DiMauro, “That choppy motion, digging in, may actually be one of the reasons she comes off the pace and finishes so well. She takes those little short strides warming up because she’s relaxed and does everything easy. She doesn’t seem to run that way even in the early stages, but she strides right out as soon as she gets going.”
Lady Pitt got going well enough in the Oaks to avenge her defeat at the hands of Moccasin, who was clearly not the horse at three that she had been as a juvenile. As it turned out it was she, and not Lady Pitt, who had soundness concerns, and the wear and tear on her ankles from her tough juvenile campaign was evident in the mare long after she retired.
Indeed, Canfli’s little relation Lady Pitt ran more than twice as often as Moccasin, making 47 starts in all and racing into her five year old season, where she was twice stakes placed, in the Santa Paula and Santa Barbara Handicaps prior to her retirement to the broodmare ranks.
Thomas Eazor bred the first two foals from Lady Pitt, the winning full siblings Queen Pot and Bank of England (by Buckpasser) prior to selling her to Ogden Phipps. For Phipps, Lady Pitt got off to a very slow start, getting only the winning Queen’s Minister by Bold Lad in her first four tries.
In 1974, Phipps bred her to Never Bend’s half brother Bold Reason and the resultant foal was stakes winner The Liberal Member, winner of the Grade 1 Brooklyn Handicap. The following year, she produced a filly by double classic winner Riva Ridge. This was Blitey, who would become a top sprinter and the main conduit through which Lady Pitt would breed on.
In the meantime, however, the two Buckpasser daughters which Eazor had bred from Lady Pitt also contributed to the family fortunes. Queen Pot did her best work in Europe, while Bank of England would later become the third dam of $2 million earner Dramatic Gold.
Blitey and her best racing son, Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Dancing Spree, both shared Lady Pitt’s come-from-behind style. Dancing Spree, a handsome chestnut, also won over a distance, taking the Grade 1 Suburban Handicap. He was exported to France for stud duty in 1991.
Dancing Spree’s full sister, Dancing All Night, was his polar opposite as a racehorse, winning the Grade 2 Long Island Handicap at 12 furlongs on the turf, her only added-money victory. Dancing All Night has been something of a disappointment as a broodmare. She has produced five foals to date, and only the filly Sam’s Diary by Private Account was much of a racehorse, winning $53,440, but no stakes. Sam’s Diary is now a broodmare, as is her full sister Private Session. Dancing All Night produced a Mining filly in 1999.
In 1987, Blitey produced yet another Nijinsky II filly named Oh What A Dance who did not race. So far, however, she has been a very good broodmare, producing champion Heavenly Prize, Grade 1 winner Oh What A Windfall and stakes placed Hunting Hard.
Heavenly Prize, a wonderful racemare, probably has one of the best chances of advancing the family fortunes. Her first foal, who would have been two in 1999, died at birth. Her 1998 foal is a winning Storm Cat named Pure Prize. She also has a 1999 filly by Deputy Minister named Just Reward, and a 2001 colt by Storm Cat.
Fantastic Find, a year-younger half sister to Oh What A Dance by Mr. Prospector, is also doing well. Winner of the Grade 1 Hempstead Handicap, she is the dam of Grade 1 winner Finder’s Fee and stakes placed Treasure Island. She also has a winning 1998 filly by A. P. Indy named Indy Pick.
The evolution of Canfli’s Lady Pitt branch is worth analyzing, for only in understanding how one mare among many becomes the heart of a family can breeders hope to duplicate the feat with families of their own.
Rock Drill’s dam, Flyaway Home, had three crosses of speedy Bend Or and just one of St. Simon. When mated to Whirlaway to get Rock Drill, another St. Simon cross plus two lines of Isinglass were added. But speed was not ignored, for one more Bend Or cross and the speedy American sire Domino (two crosses) were also added to the mix. Rock Drill was improved by adding the good route blood without forgetting this speed and she won a minor race (the Susan Stakes).
When Rock Drill was then mated to Horse of the Year Sword Dancer, a Teddy-line horse, to produce Lady Pitt, her pedigree began to look more modern. She was linebred to Fairy Gold via Fair Play x3/Friar Rock and had a 6 x 5 cross of half brothers Chaucer and Swynford in her pedigree. Reinforcing her older inbreeding were back lines of Bend Or, Domino and St. Simon with the patterns repeated but brought up to date.
The pedigree of Lady Pitt’s best daughter Blitey looks more conventionally inbred. She was 4 x 5 to half brothers Hyperion and Pharamond II; 5 x 4 to half brother and sister Gainsborough and Rosern and was, once more, inbred to Swynford and Chaucer and had more Bend Or and Domino blood added. So with every breeding, the stability of the three major lines – Bend Or, Domino and St. Simon remained and was reinforced while the pedigree was modernized by using horses who had a combination of these lines but which also effected crossover linebreeding to other sources.
By the time we arrive at Blitey’s champion granddaughter Heavenly Prize, we find that nothing has changed. Broodmare sire Nijinsky II is by Northern Dancer, who is inbred to Swynford and Chaucer, and adds lines of Selene via *Sickle, *Pharamond II and Hyperion, plus more Teddy blood via *Bull Dog. Her sire, Seeking the Gold, adds *Sickle, *Pharamond II, Fairy Gold and other Phalaris lines as well as more Teddy via both *Bull Dog and *Sir Gallahad III.
While her pedigree shows sex-balanced Native Dancer 4 x 5 and the ‘inside-out’ pattern of Tom Fool and Flaming Page, it is actually nothing more than continuing to reinforce existing strengths and adding linebreeding with clever patterns. To sum up, the basic strength of the pedigree was never forgotten, only new strengths were added which interplayed with the original assets. Thus is the path to a dynasty.
Canfli’s family shows a rather strong female sex-bias, thus sires from this family probably have two strikes against them and should be avoided. There have not been many at any rate, and the only recent sire of any note is Posen, who was exported to Ireland. Also, several of the better male members, including Dramatic Gold and Night Flight were geldings.
In order to inbreed to this family today, it is probably best to use a mare from the family crossed on a horse with a relatively close-in line of T. V. Lark. This is not as difficult as it sounds, since there are several sub-branches out there that are still producing good horses that are not held closely by the Phipps.
For her contribution to pedigrees both here and abroad, we thus name Canfli and her relations Lady Pitt and Blitey to the Reine-de-Course list.
Perhaps if someone takes our advice and inbreeds to the family’s strengths, we will be revisiting Canfli in the not-too-distant future to add a mare from a branch developed by a small breeder.