Colosseum

As we progress through various branches of the great female families, it is only natural that from time to time one will pop up and simply demand attention.  And the Ariel mare Colosseum certainly moved to the front of the line when her relatives Almutawakel and General Challenge won the Dubai World Cup and the Santa Anita Derby respectively in 1999.

Of course, this mare should also be dear to the hear of all who live in Oklahoma as she is the modern taproot dam of Clever Trevor, who carried the state’s banner with such immense courage and talent in the late 1980’s.

Colosseum’s family really got its start in the Whitney stud via the mare Arena, but it was Charlton Clay who developed the family via Lyceum, Matriarch, and other good ones.  As time went on, various branches of the family would have the good fortune of ending up at such excellent establishments as Claiborne Farm and the clan’s dye was cast.

Today, this marvelous family is one of the most versatile in the world.  While it has something of a sex-bias in favor of producers over sires, some good stallions like Miswaki have emerged.  High Brite is a useful sort, and Southern Halo, who has sired over 100 stakes winners while standing in South America, Japan and the U. S. may be the most prolific of the sires from this family.  However, Southern Halo is inbred to Almahmoud (Cosmah/Natalma) and is not really a typical member of the family.

So far as stallions are concerned, there have been some out-and-out tragedies.  By far the worst was what happened to Targowice, the champion son of Round Table from this family who sired 1983 American Horse of the Year All Along.

When Round Table’s owner Travis Kerr died, his widow Gerry Kerr lost her taste for racing and dispersed the horses.  (She later told this writer that if she could have snatched those horses back, she would have).  Targowice was purchased by Mme. Pierre Werthheimer as a weanling for $49,000.  Racing in France at two, he became champion of his age and sex.

Like many sons of Round Table forced into service as a juvenile, Targowice was unable to duplicate his best form at three and was considered a flop when he did not live up to his press and win the Two Thousand Guineas.  Retired to stud with his reputation sullied, he produced a steady stream of good if not brilliant stakes winners until he was finally exported to Japan in late 1980.

The tragedy came when breeders began to not only view his latest group of foals, but in what would soon come.  Among his best foals that season were French One Thousand Guineas winner Ukraine Girl; Group 2 winner Tipperary Fixer and Group 3 winner Prince Mab.  And then there was All Along.

Slow to come to hand, All Along bloomed at exactly the right time late in her four year old season to take the continent’s premier event, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe from a field that included top fillies Time Charter, Sun Princess, Stanerra, Luth Enchantee, Zalataia and Sharaya.  She completed her testing 12 furlongs over a course listed ‘good’ but soft by American standards in 2:28 1/5, just a tick over the course record.

She ventured from there upon such a campaign that has not been seen before or since, winning the Rothmans International in Canada on soft ground; the Turf Classic at Aqueduct with its tight turns and finally the Washington D. C. International (then run at its proper 12 furlong distance).  The three races comprised a Turf Triple Crown worth a $1 million bonus, but it was not the money that counted most.

Here was a filly, born of an American-bred sire banished to Japan and a French dam, returning to the land of her sire to remind those who would take Targowice and others of this family lightly that they had best be paying attention.  All Along went on to finish second in the Japan Cup and second in the first Breeders’ Cup Turf, showcasing (some would say rubbing it in) that Targowice had been let go far too soon.

But those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it, or so the saying goes, and it was with much regret that we watched yet another of Colosseum’s sire descendents, Manila, go to Turkey to stand at stud.  Manila, that rarest of creatures who was able to win both on dirt and turf at the highest level was also a victim – in his case of the times in which he lived and the inability of those around him to really look at him.

Manila did not look like his sire line, that of Lyphard/Northern Dancer, nor did he particularly resemble other sire types from Colosseum’s family.  Instead, the leggy, elegant horse more closely resembled his broodmare sire *Le Fabuleux, a stamina influence who was never considered a sire of sires.  Since he bred like he looked rather than how he was bred, his offspring did not win early and he was condemned as a failure.  One can only hope that, like Targowice, he is redeemed by a daughter capable of setting the world on fire and giving this female family a chance to establish its better sire prospects rather than tossing them aside too quickly when they simply do not perform like everyone else.

In the meantime, however, one can certainly agree it is a very good thing to have a filly or mare from this family and the sex-bias that affects most sires from the family does not work against male racehorses – thus Clever Trevor, Martial Law, Almutawakel, White Muzzel and the like have no trouble winning major races.

The other nice thing about this family is that there are several good branches to use for inbreeding.  If you find yourself with a mare by Miswaki or Martial Law, there are some nice choices like Southern Halo’s son More Than Ready, Jump Start, High Brite and Manila’s paternal grandson Bienamando to choose from.  As a matter of fact, All Along was bred to Manila, but she was bred more successfully to Miswaki, producing the stakes placed Arnaqueur, third in the Prix La Rochette (G3).

There is also the matter of the family’s versatility.  Horses from this family have won on dirt and turf, both here and abroad with equal facility.  And because the family remained in the hands of major breeders, the majority of the good horses from the family are by top sires, with the *Nasrullah and *Princequillo lines ruling the beginning of the family’s ascent to power and with Northern Dancer and Mr. Prospector blending in well in later years.

As to Colosseum’s pedigree, she brings into focus a horse whose influence has long been ignored in American pedigrees and that is her sire, Ariel.  This Ben Brush-line horse, who was noted as a source of speed, is also the sire of Planetoid (dam of Reine-de-Course Grey Flight) and other of his daughters like Plucky Maid (whose family contains Skywalker, Kissin Kris and Silver Prospector) and Ariel Beauty (family of Federal Hill, Corporate Report and Victory Gallop), suggest that his influence should be analyzed and ultimately recognized not only as a major broodmare sire but as a source of solid broodmare speed.

Given that Colosseum was, in fact, a daughter of Ariel, the match which produced her was something of a ‘fish and fowl’ mating, as her dam was by the very stout St. James (Dark Ronald line); her second dam was by the stout Fair Play and her third dam was by Rock Sand, whose get were also at their best over a distance of ground.  However, Colosseum’s dam Arena also was inbred to the brilliant Bend Or on a four-way cross.  Thus she is one of those horses whose broodmare sires made her look more stout than she really was.

Her overall pedigree pattern contains five lines of Bend Or in all and there is a unique five-way cross of the foundation mare Queen Mary.  Ariel himself is inbred to Bonnie Scotland and Blinkhoolie, sons of Queen Mary, while Colosseum’s dam Arena was inbred to their half sister Blink Bonny.

One other major pattern within her pedigree is a six-way cross of half sisters Rouge Rose (who appears via all her Bend Or blood) and Paradigim.

When Colosseum was bred to Bull Lea to produce her two best daughters, Lea Lark and Lyceum, the effect was startling.  This cross produced a 4 x 4 cross of Ajax and his full brother Adam (Flying Fox-Amie) and it also sex-balanced Bay Ronald with the mare Rondeau to Colosseum’s son cross of Dark Ronald.

Continuing the trend, when *Nasrullah or one of his sons was bred to Lea Lark and Lyceum respectively, a daughter cross of Ajax was added to balance Teddy and two St. Simon crosses were added to the three Arena brought to the table.  And by the time Native Dancer (via Raise A Native and Northern Dancer in particular) was added to the mix, the pedigree of Colosseum found itself with an injection of its original strength, as that great sire’s dam, Geisha, was inbred to Ben Brush, the sire line from which Colosseum descended.

Looking at a stallion register today, there is one young sire prospect from this family well worth mentioning.  That is the Easy Goer horse Composer, whose most notable win came in the Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga.

Composer is of special interest because of his close relationship to a horse we think is going to make a very good broodmare sire, Turkoman.  Crossing Composer on Turkoman mares would effect inbreeding to Alydar using sons Easy Goer and Turkoman; sex-balance inbreeding to Round Table via daughter Royal Honoree (second dam Lyceum) and son Table Play (second dam Lea Lark), thus  crossing these full sisters as well.  This is a potentially explosive cross which we sincerely hope breeders take advantage of.

A similar cross can also be effected by taking daughters of Martial Law to Turkoman or vice versa (Martial Law stood in California, Turkoman currently stands there).  Turkoman’s broodmare sire Table Play is a three-quarter brother to Sateen, dam of Martial Law.

So even though some of the better members of the family like Clever Trevor and General Challenge are geldings and despite good horses like Targowice and Manila not being given a fair chance at stud, there are still lots of ways to inbreed to and utilize this tough, sound family.

Besides, as long as horses like Almutawakel pop up and shock the world in races like the Dubai Cup, no one is going to forget this group of horses.  And if we have lost Miswaki’s best son, Black Tie Affair, to Japan, we still have Black Tie Affair’s own best son, Formal Gold, though he is terribly light on family.

In light not only of recent developments, but because of past excellence, we therefore add Colosseum, Lea Lark, Lea Lane, Fleet Flight, Shama, and Matriarch to the Reine-de-Course list.  We hope that some of the younger members of other branches continue to add to the family’s accomplishments so that we might revisit them and add them to the list at a later date.

Family 16-G