The Fly By Night II Tribe
If one were to chart the early course of the American Thoroughbred, he would be hard-pressed to avoid the names of either Whitney or Keene. To wit: Danger Ahead, whose third dam, Elope, is a three-quarter sister to Flying Witch, traces to the Robert the Devil mare Princess Iskra which was imported by James R. and Foxhall Keene.
Whitney later acquired Princess Iskra’s descendent Fly By Night II in 1911 when he purchased all of Keene’s yearlings and developed her line via Flying Witch to include Almahmoud, the fifth dam of Northern Dancer and Halo as well as the ancestress of Arctic Tern, Danehill, Machiavellian and many more fine racing and breeding animals.
Flying Witch’s three-quarter sister Elope, also bore the Whitney stamp. Flying Witch was by Broomstick-Fly By Night II, while Elope was by Broomstick’s son, Handicap Triple Crown winner Whisk Broom II. That makes any horse with a Spectacular Bid over Northern Dancer, Halo, Danehill, etc. cross inbred to these two daughters of Fly By Night II. (We already have the proof in the pudding as it were, with Kitten’s Joy, which is 8 x 7 to Flying Witch and Elope. His half sister, G1 winner Precious Kitten, is similarily bred).
Making A Name For Herself
Because Fly By Night II is the link between these two families, it is the proper time to name her as a Reine-de-Course, thus acknowledging her influence as a true family head. Further, we would be truly amiss not to include Mother Goose on the list as well. Few mares have had so much to say about major racing: In addition to being the taproot for Northern Dancer, Danehill, et. al., Mother Goose is the fifth dam of champion sprinter Chou Croute and the seventh dam of Breeders’ Cup Classic winner, Skywalker.
Chou Croute has never stepped up to the plate as a producer, but Skywalker gave us Bertrando, who is still at stud, and Bertrando has a successful young son in Officer as well. They have done their share to keep Relaunch’s name alive, even though Bertrando has stood his entire career in California where he did not see the best mares.
Danger Ahead – and the “Bid” for Greatness
Danger Ahead, a 1946 mare bred by C. F. Hockley and H. F. Guggenheim is, however, our current subject. The source of this part of the family’s toughness (she ran 76 times), the daughter of Head Play (by Man o’ War’s full brother, My Play) won the Molly Pitcher and Regret Handicaps and placed in the important Astoria Stakes.
It is her twin daughters by To Market, Go On Green and Stop On Red, who proved to the world that yes, twins can and sometimes actually do not only win but become important producers. Go On Green won and is responsible for a couple of minor regional stakes horses in Ohio.
Stop On Red, however, not only won but is the dam of Spectacular, a little stakes placed mare by the tough Promised Land (77 starts). Spectacular in turn stamped her son by Bold Bidder, Spectacular Bid, with not only her grey coat color but her toughness and he went on to become one of the greats of that finest of decades, the 1970’s, when he won two-thirds of the Triple Crown before being foiled in the Belmont by either an errant safety pin or a bad ride by Ronnie Franklin, or perhaps by simply not being a 12-furlong horse.
Whatever the real truth, there is little argument that Spectacular Bid was one of the best racehorses of his generation or any generation for that matter. As a sire, however, it was quite another matter and he is proof positive that a horse does not breed like he ran, but rather how he is bred and with the advantage of perspective, we now know that it was not this branch of Danger Ahead, but One Lane by Prince John, that was destined to return this branch of the family to prominence.
Bid’s Contribution to the Stud Book
Nevertheless, a word about Spectacular Bid’s stud career is in order. As a sire, he stood at Claiborne Farm near Paris, Ky., for the first 10 years of his career as a stallion prior to being moved to Milfer Farm in upstate New York for the 1991 season. He died there in 2003.
Obviously, Spectacular Bid saw his best mares at Claiborne, a fact that helped him as a broodmare sire later on. As a sire, he begat 23 crops, containing 784 foals. Of that group 74% started, 53% won, 41 won stakes (5%) and 30 more (4%) placed in black-type events. His mares AEI was a whopping 2.16, hard to improve as it were, and he was unable to do so, coming in with an AEI of 1.46.
The best of his progeny was Lotus Pool, who was a stakes winner and Group 2 placed in Ireland, then journeyed to the U. S., where he won two Grade 3’s – the Keeneland Breeders’ Cup Stakes and the Sea O Erin at Arlington Park in Chicago. He was also second in the G2 Bernard Baruch at Saratoga in New York.
Sadly, his second best horse was a gelding, Lay Down, from Lady Be Good’s family. A multiple G2 winner (including the Forego H. at Saratoga), he was also G1 placed. Even more sadly, Bid’s next best son – who shuttled to Brazil and died young without leaving any heirs – was Double Feint who carried Bid’s grey coat color and was from the family (Aloe) that gave us Round Table, Pulpit, Johannesburg, Tale of the Cat and many more good ones.
As to his daughters, a couple of them appear in the pedigrees of some very high profile sires or sire prospects like Any Given Saturday (G1 Haskell) whose second dam, Whow, is by Spectacular Bid. This is the family of Reine-de-Course Beadah, so he’s entitled as a son of Distorted Humor, to make an impact. Preakness winner Bernardini, who was a champion at three, is favored by Spectacular Bid’s presence as the sire of his second dam, Oil Fable, who is out of a Northern Dancer-line mare and thus inbred to Fly By Night II. Bernardini’s dam, Cara Rafaela by Quiet American, carried Bid’s grey coat color and was Broodmare of the Year in 2006. This is Reine-de-Course Throttle Wide’s clan.
Met Mile and Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) winner Corinthian, gives us a glimpse of what Double Feint might have done. By Pulpit (from the family of Double Feint) and with Bid – once again as the sire of the second dam, Add – this is the family of Reine-de-Course *Rough Shod II.
Last but not least there is Exchange Rate, whose only saving grace is that he picks up Bid’s color and thus likely inherited some of his soundness, as his pedigree is a study in unsoundness and he is very light-boned. By Danzig out of a Seeking the Gold mare and inbred to Raise a Native, he broke down on the racetrack but once more we find Spectacular Bid as the sire of the second dam, Spectacular Bev, and from a Reine-de-Course family (Lady Comfey). Gee, anybody see a pattern here?
So Bid’s real contribution is as a broodmare sire, so long as the daughter is from a good family and her daughter in turn is bred to a good sire, and so forth. Sad to say, this says more about the family than it does about Spectacular Bid, but we will stand by our frequent statement that he stands for soundness in a pedigree wherever he is found.
Also, as a broodmare sire, his daughters have produced 94 stakes winners to date, not a bad legacy, and 79 more who placed in stakes. Among the leading earners are millionaires Bare Necessities, a G3 winner who placed in several G2 and G1 races, out of Shrewd Vixen; and Yellow Ribbon (G1) winner Janet (GB), out of Bid Dancer (IRE).
It would thus be incorrect to say Spectacular Bid was a total flop. He was not, anymore than Secretariat was. So much was expected of both because of their sheer athletic prowess that it seemed destined that they would improve the breed. We are here to say that they did – to a degree – by adding soundness. Both were simply more ruled by their dams than their sire lines and both were Bold Ruler heirs and that throne belonged – unequivocally – to Seattle Slew.
One Lane Saves The Line
Elmendorf Farm, not surprisingly, was able to do more with Danger Ahead’s Prince John daughters Intersection and One Lane than the twin Stop On Red accomplished in California. Intersection only got one good horse, but it was the *Day Court gelding Pass Right, winner of the Hawthorne Juvenile Stakes, the Sacramento Handicap and third in the Kindergarten Stakes. A hard-knocker, Pass Right made 39 starts.
But ah, One Lane! This wondrous producer was the salvation of the line and she began with a classic winning daughter in the *Gallant Man sired Road Princess, she in turn, a double stakes producer including the G2 Sovereign Dancer-sired Reign Road.
One Lane also got the Breeders’ Futurity winning colt Provante by Prove It; plus stakes placed males Double Entry by Ambiopoise and Court Road by *Day Court. Then in 1983 her daughter by L’Enjoleur, That’s My Hon, was born.
Bred by Crescent and Jarrow, That’s My Hon had a fascinating build-up of lines and crosses, but her “Bradley blood” was what was ripe for the improving. With a Blue Larkspur double via Prince John and Businesslike via a Buckpasser line, One Lane was bound to love being crossed back to Lear Fan to get Kitten’s First, who was bred by Charles H. Deeter. Lear Fan, after all, tailed to Bradley’s wonderful *Macaroon clan.
Unplaced at the races, That’s My Hon became a force to be reckoned with in the breeding shed and without her contribution of Kitten’s First, there would be no Reine-de-Course story for Danger Ahead. Kitten’s First was born in 1991 and was a winner. Two years later, her half brother by Runaway Groom named Down The Aisle was born. He would go on to win the G1 United Nations Handicap.
There’s More Than One Cat In The Stud Book
When pedigree types and breeders today think of “cats” in the Thoroughbred sense, they are quite likely to be thinking of Storm Cat. But Kitten’s First had a pretty fine roar of her own.
Not only is she the dam of Champion Grass horse Kitten’s Joy, but also G1 winner Precious Kitten (by a Storm Cat son in Catienus). That alone would make her worth her weight in gold. But she had just begun.
In 1995 Kitten’s Joy had produced a stakes winner by Broad Brush named Justenuffheart. Not only is she the dam of two-year-old filly champion Dreaming of Anna, but her full brother, G2 winner Lewis Michael and G2 winner Justenuffhumor, third in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. As if that were not enough, she also has a stakes producing Red Ransom daughter named Striking Image which foaled the Catienus stakes winner Self Made Man.
The thing that is so exciting about all of this is that not only are both Precious Kitten and Dreaming of Anna outstanding prospects to further improve the breed when their foals race, but Lewis Michael and Justenuffhumor are equally intriguing stallion prospects.
This is a very special legacy, made more important by the fact that Kitten’s First is no longer with us. She was euthanized at the age of 15 on January 14, 2006 after foundering in both front feet. Sadly, she had miscarried a full sister to Kitten’s Joy two months earlier.
It was not the first obstetrical problem encountered by the daughter of Lear Fan. She had had three foals by cesarean section including Kitten’s Joy. Part-owner Sarah Ramsey felt the loss deeply. “She had tremendous heart and tried so hard through all the problems she had in life. I hate to see her leave us.” Yet she is with us still.
Champion Kitten’s Joy had an uphill climb as a ‘grass horse’ when he first went to stud, but he has not done badly at all. The beautiful son of El Prado (sire also of the successful Medaglia d’Oro) is proof that the family can get a stallion after all. Of course Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey who bred and raced Kitten’s Joy are supporting him, but nonetheless, he has gotten five stakes winners to date and three more stakes placed. His AEI of 1.63 is pretty much a push with his mares’ CI of 1.64.
Furthermore, the Kitten’s Joys should improve with age and the first crop turned three in 2010. Chief among them to date is G2 placed stakes winner William’s Kitten, a possible Triple Crown threat. Then there is the Midwestern stakes winner Kera’s Kitten, who won minor stakes in Texas and Kentucky; Dean’s Kitten, a black type winner on grass at Belmont in the Vision Stakes, and Texas-based stakes winner Lisa’s Kitten. His other stakes winner won in Puerto Rico and is a filly, Sweet Kitten, out of a Saint Ballado mare.The stakes placed individuals include Becky’s Kitten, G3 placed in Canada; Shrimp Dancer, third behind Dean’s Kitten in the Vision Stakes at Belmont and Maddie’s Odyssey, another filly who was third in a minor turf stake at Colonial Downs. All have every reason to improve with maturity and grass opportunities and if Kitten’s Joy seems to favor Northern Dancer and Raise a Native-line mares, we offer for consideration the obvious: There is little else out there and there are foals out of other type broodmares like Becky’s Kitten (Caro) and Sweet Kitten (Halo-line Saint Ballado mentioned above).
The Pedigree of Danger Ahead
Few broodmares earn the title of Reine-de-Course without having a delicious pedigree and Danger Ahead is no exception. She is inbred to the raw speed of Commando (Transvaal/Peter Pan, both males); to the classic speed of Bend Or (daughters Fairy Gold and Doremi); to the classic blood of Triple Crown winner Rock Sand (daughter Mahubah to son Hour Glass II).
Also present in her pedigree is a treble of Saint Simon (daughters Roquebrune and Concertina to son Childwick), to the breed-shaping strider Hampton via sons Merry Hampton and Bay Ronald and sire Head Play is doubled to his tail-male line of Spendthrift thanks to a daughter line via Excelent.
The very history of the bloodlines, from Man o’ War’s full brother My Play to the ‘down under wonder’ Carbine, to Whisk Broom II, Danger Ahead is filled with the glory of the Thoroughbred. She needed just that little bit of good luck necessary to move from a minor branch of Fly By Night II to a major one. No one is suggesting here that Danger Ahead will ever eclipse Almahmoud – that would likely be impossible. But imagine the possibilities for crossing her back not only on that line but on Bertrando’s blood as well and one would hate to think that Kitten’s Joy never meets a mare with a Spectacular Bid cross.
As previously mentioned, we hereby add to the Reine-de-Course list Fly By Night II, Mother Goose, Danger Ahead, One Lane and Kitten’s First. There is a slight possibility that we can return to Stop On Red in the future if her Australian branch via Aristocracy continues to prosper, but it is not quite strong enough yet.
We have wrestled for a long time with whether or not we should include this branch of the family, but Kitten’s First convinced us once and for all. She did, indeed, leave a considerable legacy, and one which possibly cost her a lovely old age by virtue of her foaling woes. Such remarkable gifts as Precious Kitten, Dreaming of Anna, and of course Kitten’s Joy should never be underappreciated. Welcome, Danger Ahead, you are finally home safely.