Court Dress

If ever a female family has made recent news, it is the family of Court Dress, a 1904 daughter of Disguise-Hampton Belle by Hampton.  From this family descends not only perennial top sire Deputy Minister, but 1999 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Charismatic.  It is an old family which has enriched the stables of many breeders large and small, leaving precious gifts wherever it happened to reside.

Court Dress’s dam, Hampton Belle, was imported by James R. Keene of Castleton Stud, and he bred Court Dress as well.  Her two most important daughters, full sisters Inaugural and Coronis, were also bred by Keene after which the mare was sold to W. K. Vanderbilt who exported her to France in 1912.  Abroad, Court Dress produced four more foals, none of any particular note.  One of these foals, a filly named *Court Gown, was repatriated and her branch of the family languished in California and Idaho where it has pretty well burned itself out after being bred to a steady stream of terrible sires.

But the Inaugural and Coronis branches are still going strong and it is highly unlikely that this family will do anything but prosper if recent additions like Muhtarram; Gold Fever; and Charismatic have anything to say about it.   This is likely due in large part to Court Dress’ own pedigree, as she was inbred to the great taproot mare, Queen Mary, who also happened to be her own sixth dam.

Court Dress was the product of not one, but two mares imported by James R. Keene, the previously referenced Hampton Belle and Bonnie Gal, dam of her sire, Disguise.  Overall, Court Dress had a 3 x 4 x 4 x 5 cross of half siblings Bonnie Doon, Haricot (x2) and Blink Bonny, all offspring of Queen Mary.  Her own dam was somewhat more intensely inbred to this great influence, as Lady Langden (dam of her broodmare sire Hampton); Breadalbane (sire of her second dam Silver Belle) and The Pet, her own third dam, are all very closely related.  Lady Langden and The Pet are three-quarter siblings:  Lady Langden is by Kettledrum out of Haricot (a daughter of Queen Mary) while The Pet is by Kettledrum out of Haricot’s daughter Scarlet Runner.

Kettledrum, sire of this pair, is by Rataplan, a son of the immortal matron Pocahontas (1837), she purveyor of the large heart gene.  Breadalbane is by another son of Pocahontas, Stockwell, “The Emperor of Stallions” out of Queen Mary’s daughter Blink Bonny.  To sum up, Lady Langden, Breadalbane and The Pet are all by either a son or grandson of Pocahontas and are all out of either a daughter or granddaughter of Queen Mary.

Since many of our greatest foundation mares are intensely inbred, Court Dress serves well to illustrate how bloodlines are carefully woven throughout a pedigree to intensify the strength of a particular female family, in this case that of Queen Mary.  There is little doubt that in Court Dress the formula was a pronounced success.

Perhaps Court Dress’s best known American branch comes via Good Example, whose third dam was Court Dress’s daughter Inaugural.  This family passed through the hands of Mereworth Farm to Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, who developed it primarily via the offspring of Exclusive and Grass Shack.

Exclusive, of course, produced not only the top-class sire and Chef-de-Race Exclusive Native, who sired sounder and stouter stock than his sire Raise A Native.  He was that rarest of classic sires, one who could claim not only a Triple Crown winning son (Affirmed) but a filly Kentucky Derby winner (Genuine Risk).

Exclusive Native was bred by Harbor View Farm, who also bred Affirmed.

Exclusive joined the Harbor View broodmare band when Louis Wolfson purchased her from Major Albert Warner, who had earlier bought her from Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt who, of course, bred her.

Exclusive’s group of relations also included two exceptional producers, Exclusive Dancer, a full sister to Exclusive Native and Mellow Marsh by *Seaneen.  Mellow Marsh won the Monrovia Handicap and is responsible for a very nice group of good grass runners including Interco; St. Hilarion, Savinio and Muhtarram.

Exclusive Dancer, on the other hand, has a branch which is more main-track oriented with representatives like Travers winner and Kentucky Derby second General Assembly; Brooklyn Handicap winner Chief Honcho; Jersey Derby winner American Chance, Alabama winner Versailles Treaty and NYRA Mile champion Gold Fever.

Exclusive’s half sister Grass Shack, also bred by Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt,  was bred on the same Polynesian-Good Example cross as Exclusive Native, and has developed a branch of the family to rival Exclusive’s own in recent years.

The most recognizable name from Grass Shack’s branch of the family prior to Charismatic’s classic wins, was the champion juvenile runner and top-class sire Deputy Minister.  Considering his prepotent influence, it is interesting to note that Deputy Minister’s dam, Mint Copy, was claimed for $6,250 at Woodbine in 1975.  To her credit, she improved after the claim, eventually winning allowance races and placing in the Nassau Stakes.

Morton and Marjoh Levy were the sharp-eyed breeders who claimed Mint Copy and it was they who bred her to Vice Regent.  The couple named the colt for his two parents “mint” reminding Mrs. Levy of things governmental and he was thus christened Deputy Minister.

Since he became a leading sire, Deputy Minister’s pedigree has been challenged by many researchers trying to find the ‘key’ to breeding another just like him. With the advent of such offspring as Open Mind, Go For Wand, Awesome Again, Touch Gold and the highly successful young sire Silver Deputy, who can blame them?  But Deputy Minister is no mystery.

Rather not only is he a direct descendent of Court Dress, he also is inbred to her via a double of Ladder and a cross of Parade Girl, his fifth dam.  Ladder, by the way, was no slouch, running third in the 1931 Preakness to Mate and Kentucky Derby and Belmont winner Twenty Grand.  The inbreeding is 6 x 4 x 5 to Ladder (x2)/Parade Girl.

Shakney, second dam of Deputy Minister, had a half sister named Polynesian Charm who was about to break into the spotlight as well.  Polynesian Charm was bred by Mr. and Mrs. H. L. Bryan in Florida and she did not win a dime at the races and was eventually sold to Great Britain in 1984.  However, she left behind a Drone filly named Bali Babe, bred in the name of Eaton Farms and Red Bull Stable, who also did not run.

Bali Babe took her time about getting the “big horse” but when she did so, she did it right.  Named Tossofthecoin, the chestnut son of Magesterial won over $800,000.  A Grade 2 winner, Tossofthecoin also placed in several Grade 1 races and is now at stud in California.  Bali Babe produced a full sister to him named Bali Magic in 1992 who did not win.

In 1993 Bali Babe produced her first offspring by Summer Squall, a stakes placed colt named Constant Demand, then in 1996 she foaled Charismatic and the family was made.

Charismatic took a while to earn the respect of the racing public, who could not seem to forget that he had once raced for a claiming price, albeit quite a high one ($62,500) – ten times more than the dam of Deputy Minister was claimed for in 1975.  Even after winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, it took a game effort with a broken foreleg in the Belmont for the colt to earn the respect he deserved all along.  He is now at stud in Kentucky.

Bali Babe died in 1999, but she left behind several daughters, including that full sister to Tossofthecoin.  She also has daughters by Verbatim (Black Beaver); Breezing On (Elizabeth Parker) and Cormorant (Bali Breeze).

Before leaving Inaugural’s branch of the Court Dress family, we come to the sub-branch of Forsythia, a half sister to Panoply by Broomstick.  It is from this group of mares that major winner and Chef-de-Race Riverman and classic winners Pavot and Go And Go descend.

The major source of the strength in this family comes via Coquelicot, a granddaughter of Forsythia by Man o’ War.  Coquelicot’s dam, Fleur by Pennant, was bred by C. V. Whitney and was purchased by Walter M. Jeffords in the 1930’s prior to producing her first foal.

Bred for the first time to the good *Teddy stallion Case Ace, Fleur produced champion two-year-old Pavot, who trained on well enough to win the Belmont Stakes the following year.  Though he did not become a great sire, Pavot did become a notable broodmare sire and can be found today in the pedigrees of such good horses as Green Dancer, Grey Dawn II, Pia Star, Grindstone and Northern Jove.

Two years after Pavot was born, Coquelicot foaled his three-quarter sister Azalea by Sun Teddy.  Azalea was not much at the races, but she produced the stakes winning Roman filly Nile Lily in 1954 who in turn produced the winning Prince John mare River Lady, dam of Riverman.  As a son of Never Bend, Riverman might once have been looked askance in Europe.  But after Mill Reef proved that horses by Never Bend who had *Princequillo in their female lines as Riverman did, were quite capable of coping on the continent, Riverman was given his fair amount of respect.  But then he earned it.

By the time Riverman came along, much of his female family had changed hands.  The handsome nearly black colt was bred by the Cain Hoy stable of Capt. Harry F. Guggenheim and was purchased by Pierre Wertheimer as a weanling for $41,000 at the Guggenheim dispersal.  Sadly, his dam River Lady was also sold and was exported to Europe.  There she produced stakes placed Rio Verde and a steeplechaser named Tell Harmall.

Riverman’s finest hour was winning the one-mile French 2000 Guineas, but he also placed in the Group 1 Champion Stakes, and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.  At two he won the Prix Yacowlef and ran second in the Criterium De Maisons-Laffitte and at three he won the Group 1 Prix D’Ispahan and the Group 2 Prix Jean Prat.  He could not beat the great miler Brigadier Gerard on the track, but he most certainly surpassed him at stud.

Prior to being pensioned in 1996, Riverman sent out a steady stream of horses of the very highest class.  From the champion, classic winner and outstanding sire Irish River to the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winning fillies Gold River and Detroit to the great international mare Triptych, his offspring were always quality runners.  With his last crop age three in 2000, he still has ample opportunity to add to his impressive total of 124 stakes winners.

While Riverman’s family was wending its way to Europe, Coquelicot’s three-quarter sister Wichuraiana was making a little magic of her own.  Wichuraiana’s granddaughter, My Poly, was a $3600 Keeneland fall yearling and was purchased from H. H. Mundy’s consignment by Fayette Farm.

Fayette owners William Walker and Mrs. Howard Wells bred My Polly to the beautifully bred Grenfall (Graustark-Primonetta), and sold the resultant filly to California owners Dr. Jack Woolsey and his wife Jacqueline, Mrs. Marjorie Schaffer and Mrs. Diane Delaplaine.  For the partnership the filly, who would race as Grenzen, turned into a top-class runner, winning such important events as the Santa Susana Stakes, the Santa Monica and Santa Maria Handicaps and running second in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks and Oak Leaf Stakes.  As a broodmare prospect, she was sold to Walter Haefner for $400,000.

Grenzen proved an excellent purchase, foaling not only the very good handicap runner Twilight Agenda by Devil’s Bag, but Irish Edition, an Alleged filly who produced 1990 Belmont Stakes winner Go And Go.  Sadly, neither have done much at stud.  And while Grenzen’s Blushing Groom daughter Growth Rate has produced German champion Munaaji, the truth is that this portion of the family could use some more potent recent runners to move it into the very highest class.

Next to Inaugural, Coronis’s branch looks very small.  However, there is at least one important horse from this family that truly bears mention and another whose bloodline is worth knowing about for inbreeding purposes.

In 1948 Coronis’s great-granddaughter Pretty Does, by Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes winner Johnstown, foaled a colt by Market Wise who would race for Breeder Sam Mason II as To Market.

To Market was not the world’s greatest runner, but he was a very good one. From age two to four, he won important races just about everywhere but New York – though one generally had to win in New York in those days to “be anybody”.  Still, To Market was fast at two – winning the Arlington Futurity and the Washington Park Futurity and as an older horse took the San Carlos, Arlington and Massachusetts Handicaps and the Hawthorne Gold Cup.  He was good enough to go to stud at Claiborne Farm where his greatest contribution to the stud book was the filly High Bid, the Alabama Stakes winner who foaled champion handicap horse Bold Bidder.  It is via a son of Bold Bidder, champion Spectacular Bid, that To Market made his biggest contribution.

Spectacular Bid was also not a great success as a sire.  However, because he was bred to so many mares of good family while still at Claiborne Farm, some of his daughters, and sires out of his daughters may well make a contribution to the stud book if properly mated.  Spectacular Bid was, of course, inbred to To Market 3 x 3; making him the richest and most accessible source of this bloodline available today.

One other horse from this branch of the family is the useful sire Time To Explode.  There should be quite a few of his daughters still around to use for inbreeding to this family –  and does it ever work!  Deputy Minister is one example and consider the young stallion Run Softly, who is by Deputy Minister out of a Riverman mare.  This graded stakes winner has four crosses of the Court Dress family.

With ever-developing branches, at least one sire (Deputy Minister) sure to gain Chef-de-Race status along with existing Chefs Riverman and Exclusive Native, plus strong indicators of inbreeding success, we welcome Court Dress’s family into the Reine-de-Course fold.  Along with this matron, other new Reines are Parade Girl, Exclusive, Grass Shack, and Fleur 1932 (not to be confused with the 1964 Fleur who is dam of The Minstrel).

Family 10-A