The 21-A female family, which traces to the 1818 Prime Minister mare Wagtail, is nothing if not versatile. Some might even call it schizophrenic.
Consider that from this family come such disparate horses as the incredibly fast Hidden Talent group which includes horses like Capote and Broad Brush; that from another branch (Lost Soul, 1931 by Solario) come European classic types and out-and-out plodders like Hethersett, Providential, Pampered King II, Neasham Belle, Droll Role, Dumka and Doyoun; and from yet another branch comes our current subject, *Clonaslee, whose descendents themselves represent a very diverse group of individuals.
From this winning daughter of Orpiment (by Ayrshire) come a champion sprinter in Decathlon; a Hollywood Gold Cup winner in Prince Blessed; and the marvelous My Dear Girl and her famous son In Reality plus the excellent European full brothers Glint Of Gold and Diamond Shoal. So the unusual capacity to produce such a broad base of talent is certainly a quality that travels through this family line.
It should come as no surprise that *Clonaslee, who was bred by Major J. S. Cape and imported by William Hogan in 1923, spent most of her life at Col. E. R. Bradley’s Idle Hour Farm. There, like *La Troienne and *Padula before her, she became one of the most influential imported matrons ever brought to these shores with the help of Bradley’s fine stallions Black Toney, *North Star III, Blue Larkspur and Balladier.
*Clonaslee’s first American-bred foal was the Black Toney gelding Bold Lover, winner of the Buckeye Handicap and second in the Swift Stakes. Her second was the winning *North Star III filly Losing Clon, who became the second dam of the useful Pacific Northwest stakes horse Ike’s Glory, who ran second in the Longacres Derby.
*Clonaslee foaled the first of two major daughters, Bradley-bred Blessed Again by Blue Larkspur, in 1932. Blessed Again won the Independence Handicap and it is from her branch of the family that several good runners descend.
Perhaps the best known of these is Prince Blessed, a son of *Princequillo who won the Hollywood Gold Cup and would go down in history as the sire of Ole Bob Bowers, sire of the immortal gelding John Henry. Prince Blessed was out of Blessed Again’s *Bull Dog daughter Dog Blessed, who took 14 starts to break her maiden. The colt was purchased by Travis M. Kerr, who also raced 1957 Horse of the Year Round Table, for $77,000, the top price paid for a yearling at public auction in 1958.
It was in Kerr’s name that Prince Blessed’s most famous son, Ole Bob Bowers (named after a family friend) was bred. Slow to develop and plagued with a variety of minor ailments, Ole Bob Bowers did not race until he was four years old, but during his 30-race career equalled a nine furlong world record of 1:46 2/5 on a souped-up Bay Meadows strip in the Tanforan Handicap and acquitted himself well in such important stakes as the San Marino and San Luis Rey Stakes. At stud, he never again got anything half so good as John Henry, but then he did not need to.
Prince Blessed was not the first good horse foaled by Dog Blessed. Four years Prince Blessed’s junior was champion sprinter Decathlon, a son of Olympia who stepped on a nail before he ever started and ran thereafter with an awkward gait described as “a peculiar way of putting down that foot so that in action his left front leg resembled the flipper of a seal.” However, the queer way of going did not impede his racing ability, for in 42 lifetime starts, he won 25 races and earned $269,530, a considerable sum for a foal of 1953. Decathlon set or equalled track records at 4 1/2, five, 5 1/2 and six furlongs and looked like he might be two-year-old champion of 1955 until he ran into Needles, who went on to win the Kentucky Derby and Belmont the following year.
But Decathlon was not good only at two; he was champion sprinter at three and four and he carried weights as high as 135 pounds. During his four-year-old season he never carried less than 130 pounds.
Surprisingly, considering his speed, Decathlon was not a very successful sire, getting just 12 stakes winners, and his name has pretty much disappeared from the stud book. All things considered, that is a shame; for this was sound speed.
The most recent major horse from Blessed Again’s branch of the family is 1983 Preakness winner Deputed Testamony. Deputy Testamony was out of the winning Prove It mare Proof Requested, she out of Come On by Requested, a daughter of Dog Blessed.
This son of Traffic Cop has the distinction of being one of the last representatives of the great *Alibhai’s male line. *Alibhai is his paternal great-grandsire.
No one got very excited about Deputed Testamony’s Preakness win, considering it something of a fluke, but the horse went on to finish his career with 11 wins in 20 starts, seven of his wins coming in stakes, for earnings of $674,329. In addition to the Preakness, he also won the Grade 1 Haskell, and he returned at four to set a track record of 1:40 4/5 for 1 1/16 miles in the City of Baltimore Handicap, so he was considerably more than lucky when he won his Preakness.
Deputed Testamony has carried his talent over to a successful career at stud. Through the end of 2001, he had sired 17 stakes winner and at least eleven more stakes placed horses who had won $15.4 million. Many of his better runners race in his home state of Maryland, but there are others like Gold Fleece, who won the Grade 3 Buena Vista in California and placed in the Grade 1 Gamely, so he is capable of getting a really nice individual with the proper mare.
*Clonaslee foaled her most famous daughter, We Hail by Balladier (also a Bradley-bred), in 1942. We Hail was just stakes placed, but as a broodmare she forged the most important link in the continuation of this family by producing the War Relic filly Iltis in 1947.
A tough and sound filly who made 53 starts, Iltis never won stakes and frequently competed for a claiming price, racing for several different barns before ending her career at Ocala Stud. Her third season at stud, the War Relic mare was covered by Florida’s top sire, Rough’n Tumble and in the spring of 1957, she produced a filly who would race as My Dear Girl.
My Dear Girl was purchased by Frances Genter as a weanling as part of an agreement which sold her sire to Ocala Stud. Mrs. Genter so named the filly because her husband would often begin to scold her by saying, “Now, my dear girl….” The filly proved quite a bargain, becoming champion of her age and sex at two in 1959 while racing against some of the finest fillies and mares of her time – Heavenly Body, Monarchy, Irish Jay and Natalma. Like these fine contemporaries, she would back up her performance with a brilliant contribution as a producer.
My Dear Girl retired after her four-year-old season with eight wins in 20 starts and earnings of $209,739. Her first year at stud, she produced In Reality (by champion sprinter Intentionally) and he would become one of seven stakes winners she foaled prior to her death at the age of 31 in 1988.
In Reality was also My Dear Girl’s best racing and siring/producing offspring and his contribution as a sire led to his being named a brilliant/classic Chef-de-Race. He might have had an even better career as a racehorse had he not kept bumping into horses with names like Dr. Fager and Damascus.
At two, In Reality won the Pimlico Futurity and placed in the Sapling and Cowdin. He appeared on his way to a good showing in the Triple Crown the following spring after winning the Florida Derby, Fountain of Youth and Hibiscus Stakes and racing second in the Flamingo and Florida Breeders’ Handicap (under 130 pounds).
Withheld from the Kentucky Derby, he did run a good second to Damascus in the Preakness and followed that race with another good second, this time to Dr. Fager, in the Jersey Derby. During the running of the latter race, Dr. Fager interfered with several runners at the top of the stretch, so he was disqualified and In Reality was awarded the victory. His connections did not attempt the 1 1/2 mile Belmont with him.
The horse finished his three-year-old season with a win in the Rumson Handicap at Monmouth and seconds in the American Derby (to Damascus); the New Hampshire Sweepstakes (to Dr. Fager) and the Jerome (to High Tribute).
After a slow beginning in Florida at four, In Reality found his best stride in New York and won the Carter and Metropolitan Handicaps and then suffered a foot injury in the Suburban Handicap (won by Damascus) which ended his career. He then commenced his stud career at Tartan Farms (he was moved to Gainesway in 1987) where he more than did his part to save the male line of Man o’ War from which he descended.
In Reality was an excellent stallion, siring 20 crops prior to his death from laminitis on May 8, 1989. He sired 81 stakes winners including champions Known Fact, Smile and Desert Vixen and other Grade 1 winners like Proper Reality, Star Choice, Basie and Believe It. His daughters are prized broodmares as well, having produced more than 100 stakes winners including Concerto, Saratoga Dew, Cutlass Reality, Tappiano, Lite Light, Meadow Star, Major Impact and Dernier Empereur.
My Dear Girl also produced Flamingo (G1) winner Superbity (by Groshawk) and Grade 3 winning gelding Return to Reality, a full brother to In Reality who also placed in the Grade 1 United Nations Handicap. Her stakes winning daughter Gentle Touch by Chieftain foaled Remsen Stakes (G1) winner Dr. Carter and her unraced Count Fleet daughter Endearing got the good stakes producer Love You Dearly.
Treasure Chest, a full sister to My Dear Girl, won the Modesty Handicap and most of her contribution has been in Europe where she is responsible for Yorkshire Oaks second Kanz, while her daughters Diomedia, Crown Treasure and Frontonian have all gotten major winners of their own. Foremost among these are the grand staying full brothers Glint Of Gold and Diamond Shoal, by Mill Reef-Crown Treasure, both of which were bred by Paul Mellon’s Rokeby Stud.
Another full sister to My Dear Girl and Treasure Chest was unraced Me Next, second dam of 1985 Preakness winner Tank’s Prospect. Me Next was sold privately as a weanling to Mrs. Richard C. duPont for $40,000.
After producing stakes winner Lucky Ole Me and stakes placed After Me, Show Me How and Leave Me Alone, Me Next was sold to Mrs. J. T. Lawrence and Taylor Asbury. For her new owners, Me Next foaled Midnight Pumpkin, by Pretense, who won minor stakes and became dam of Tank’s Prospect.
Today, parts of this family are scattered far and wide and a good number of horses have been exported, most notably Crown Treasure and Dr. Carter. My Dear Girl’s blood is obviously most accessible via In Reality, but anyone owning a Superbity or Tank’s Prospect mare (not to mention a daughter of Glint of Gold or Diamond Shoal) should count his lucky stars. Not to be ignored is the blood of Decathlon and Prince Blessed and keep in mind that Deputed Testamony is still alive and well in Maryland. He would be a wonderful cross for In Reality-line mares. This is a family well worth inbreeding to, and if one has the wherewithal to do so, it is best to be getting on with it before it is too late.
*Clonaslee’s own pedigree bears a word of comment, for she is a study in linebreeding to Pocahontas (1837) purported carrier of the large heart gene. *Clonaslee carried nine crosses of the great mare.
If there is a flaw in the pedigree of *Clonaslee, it is that she had multiple lines of horses who were known bleeders. Her dam Bullet Proof, for instance, was inbred to Musket, who did not bleed himself but whose paternal grandsire, Longbow, was a known bleeder.
She also had four crosses of Hermit, a Derby winner and bleeder by another bleeder, Newminster, of which *Clonaslee had seven lines. It should also be noted, however, that Hermit was a very great classic sire, so his predilection to bleeding was obviously not held seriously against him, as he got good mares. *Clonaslee also was sex-balance inbred to Galopin, sire of St. Simon, and had another line of Vedette, Galopin’s sire.
Her sire, Orpiment, was a minor son of the fine stallion Ayrshire, whose best son was undoubtedly Robert de Diable. Orpiment did have an interesting connection to an excellent American racehorse and sire. His dam, Orphrey, was a half sister to Gallorette (1907), she dam of Prince Chimay, founder of the Bois Roussel line which gave us *Gallant Man.
The way *Clonaslee’s pedigree was structured, it is interesting to see that when she was bred to Balladier to get We Hail, she picked up more of what was already in her pedigree, namely Hermit, Galopin, Hampton and Amphion. However, Balladier served to balance these strains and give the pedigree a ‘cleaner’ look. The addition of War Relic, who had Bend Or doubled in his pedigree via Fairy Gold, plus more speed from Commando, indicates that the pedigree was becoming faster, and thus more “Americanized.”
*Clonaslee’s match with Blue Larkspur was even more intriguing. He carried a line of Hasty Girl via the mare Bellinzona, which matched up nicely with Hasty Girl’s son Bendigo in her own lineage. Once again, more balance was realized via Amphion, Hampton, Hermit and Galopin.
When Dog Blessed came along, she had as her sire the very fast *Bull Dog (by Teddy, who adds two Bend Or strains) but more importantly she had a cross of Spearmint, a three-quarter brother to Wax Bullet, *Clonaslee’s broodmare sire. It is an interesting building of bloodlines which resulted in two major producers.
*Clonaslee has long been due Reine-de-Course status, and we are glad to add her to the list along with her daughters Blessed Again and We Hail and her other descendents Dog Blessed, My Dear Girl and Treasure Chest. Cherish their versatility and remembered their honored heirs; this is a special family.