Northern Dancer is so well-known for his sire sons that it is easy to forget that he is also the broodmare sire of more than 200 stakes winners (239 at last count). Not all of his daughters were both great runners and great producers, but our current subject, Fanfreluche (French for “frills”) most certainly was. Her pedigree is also rich with the flavor of E. P. Taylor’s stud, the best of Canadian breeding and racing that was made all the finer by the contribution of her grand sire.
In his superior book The Great Breeders and Their Methods, Abram Hewitt divides E. P. Taylor’s contributions into several sections. The first he calls the “Canadian Phase” and it is from this era that Fanfreluche’s background emerged.
Her third dam, American-bred Reply by the *Bull Dog horse Teddy Wrack, was acquired by Taylor to breed to his first top-class Canadian-bred sire, Windfields. Taylor had bred Windfields from his mare Nandi, a non-stakes winner by the speedy Domino-line Stimulus.
Windfields was by the fine Canadian-bred King’s Plate winner Bunty Lawless, a Fair Play-line horse. It was an extremely successful match, as the Windfields-Reply filly named Windy Answer ran 21 times, winning 10 races including the Fairbank Handicap and the Maple Leaf, Nassau, Selene, Hersey and Star Shoot Stakes.
At stud, she produced three stakes winners and a stakes placed horse. These were Princess Elizabeth Stakes winner Breezy Answer by Bull Page; Coronation Futurity winner Cool Reception by Nearctic; and stakes placed Icy Reply, also by Nearctic. The best and most important of her offspring, however, was Canadian champion Ciboulette, a good racehorse but a major Canadian broodmare, who in turn produced our subject mare, Fanfreluche.
This family line would go on to include several other notable branches. Some of the best horses not directly descended from Fanfreluche are Barachois, multiple G2 producer Somfas, Sunday Silence’s classic son Genuine and Group 2 winner Van Nistelrooy.
It is almost impossible to write about Ciboulette without at least referencing her great half brother Cool Reception, a colt by Nearctic who was bred on the same cross as Fanfreluche. It was his legacy that he died trying to beat a champion in a classic race; it was for Ciboulette’s offspring to enhance that legacy.
In 1967, after vanquishing all that Canada had to offer, Cool Reception took on America’s best in the Belmont Stakes. He gained the lead midway down the backstretch and repelled a bid by Kentucky Derby winner Proud Clarion. But when Preakness winner Damascus came to him, the question was beyond him. Nevertheless, Cool Reception had no quit in him and pursued the champion to the bitter end. He ran the last 200 yards of that race on a broken foreleg and it would be the end of him. He was not destroyed on the track, but died later after surgery.
Lou Cavalaris, who trained the colt, remembred him best as a youngster running in the field. “I’ll never forget the sight of that big son-of-a-buck running across the field against the setting sun with his golden mane flying.” Nor would anyone who saw him try to beat Damascus be likely to forget him, either.
Ciboulette was three years Cool Reception’s senior and therefore had her racing career behind her by the time her star-crossed brother came along. Sold as a yearling for $20,000 to Jean Louis Levesque, Ciboulette ran in his colors and for him she won 14 of 33 starts, including black-type victories in the Princess Elizabeth, Shady Well and Maple Leaf Stakes.
Fanfreluche was her first foal, but she also produced her full brother Barachois, who won the Plate Trial and ran second in the Queens Plate; the minor stakes winner Coco La Terreur by Northern Dancer’s sire Nearctic and thus a three-quarter brother to the pair and the stakes placed Somfas by What A Pleasure, dam of three graded stakes winners.
Two other full brothers to Fanfreluche were Night Shift and Erimo Ciboulette. The former went to Europe and did well; the latter to Japan and Mexico, where he sired a handful of minor winners.
As A Racehorse
Fanfreluche was by any definition a crack filly. The daughter of Northern Dancer and Ciboulette, named for a character in a popular French Canadian television program, ran 21 times and won 11 of those with only two unplaced efforts. She earned $238,688.
In her native land, she won the Princess Elizabeth, Natalma, and Fleur De Lys Stakes at two. At three she beat colts in the Manitoba Centennial and Quebec Derbies and ran second in the Queen’s Plate. But in her finest performance, she beat the best American fillies in the Alabama Stakes at Saratoga, all in the colors of her breeder, Jean Louis Levesque.
She also placed in two important American races, the Gazelle at Aqueduct and the Spinster at Keeneland. She was invited to race against the world’s best males in the Washington D. C. International, but though she ran as well as she could for as far as she could, Fanfreluche proved no match for champion Fort Marcy.
Among her honors: Horse of the Year and Champion three-year-old filly in 1970 and co-Champion three-year-old filly in the U. S., also in 1970. She was inducted into the Canadian Hall of Fame in 1981 and was named Canadian Broodmare of the Year in 1978.
As A Producer
It’s a toss-up as to whether Fanfreluche was a better runner or a better producer. She was simply smashing at both tasks.
Her best runner was probably Canadian Horse of the Year L’Enjoleur, a useful sire who got 32 stakes winners and 49 more stakes placed runners. Among his best runners were Canadian champions Avowal and Par Excellance, the hard-knocking Scott’s Scoundrel who won $1 million the hard way, running 50 times.
As a son of Buckpasser, L’Enjoleur is a popular broodmare sire as well. His daughters have produced 57 stakes winners and 48 stakes placed runners. Some of the best: Queen’s Plate second Freedom Fleet; ill-fated Hollywood Futurity winner Grand Canyon; and G2 winner Bodacious Tatas.
Fanfreluche also got the good producers Grande Luxe and La Voyageuse and the solid sires Medaille D’Or (a champion at two in Canada) and D’Accord. Medaille D’Or died young – at age 10 – and from his limited crops got eight stakes winners and six stakes placed runners including Tour d’Or and Wee Lavaliere. His daughters have produced 10 more stakes winners, 12 more stakes placed, including Uanme and Standard Equipment.
D’Accord, who is listed as still being alive, has sired 19 stakes winners including North East Bound and Lady d’Accord plus 19 stakes placed. His daughters have produced 23 more stakes winners including D’wildcat and Transient Trend, plus 19 stakes placed runners.
Although we do not consider Fanfreluche a ‘sire source’ mare, there have been some moments for a couple of the sires under her including Medaille D’ Or, who bred on via Tour d’ Or (Take d’ Tour and Express Tour) and appears in the pedigree of top runner Afternoon Deelites. Also of note is the current top-class Australian sire Encosta De Lago, who descends from this line via Grand Luxe’s daughter Rolls by Mr. Prospector.
On June 25, 1977, in foal to Secretariat, Fanfreluche was kidnapped from Claiborne Farm near Paris, Ky. A $25,000 reward was offered and after an extensive search, the mare was found in the tiny town of Tompkinsville, close to the Tennessee border where a small farmer named Larry McPherson and his children were using her for a riding horse. They called the mare, who suddenly showed up in the road in front of their house trailer, “Brandy”.
“You’re always finding horses and cows in the road in our part of the country,” McPherson told Sports Illustrated’s William F. Reed. During the time the McPhersons cared for “Brandy” they turned down a whopping $200 offer for her since the farmer “didn’t feel right about selling something that was not his.”
Finally, a tip led the FBI to the farm and Fanfreluche, not much the worse for wear, was returned to Claiborne. Later, a Paducah man named William McCandless was convicted of stealing her.
There was a unique sub-plot in all this confusion. Jean Louis Levesque offered a $1,000 prize to the person who came up with the best name for Fanfreluche’s Secretariat foal. The subsequent winner was “Sain Et Sauf” (safe and sound in French). The colt ran 18 times, won three and earned $34,836. He never earned a bit of black type and opinion as to whether or not Fanfreluche’s ordeal had anything to do with his not being much of a runner is divided.
A Comfortable Retirement
Sain Et Sauf was foaled in 1978 and Fanfreluche had 12 more foals after him, only one of which – his full brother D’Accord – won a stake. As a matter of fact, Fanfreluche was the proverbial monster of fertility (with apologizes to Tennessee Williams), having 18 foals with only three barren years, one of them her last year at stud in 1991.
Fanfreluche was pensioned in June of that year at Big Sink Farm near Midway, Ky., at the age of 24. She had been sold by Levesque for a then-world record $1.3 million to Bertram Firestone after foaling Sain Et Sauf and her next foal, D’Accord, was bred in Firestone’s name.
Fanfreluche had a wonderful, long life. She died of old age at the grand old age of 32 and was buried at Big Skin Farm. Few horses have left behind such a legacy.
The Pedigree of Fanfreluche
Fanfreluche’s pedigree is a fairly simple one with several standard patterns. Her sire, Northern Dancer, is inbred to half brothers Hyperion and *Sickle (x2 Selene) and to half brothers Chaucer x2/Swynford x2 (x4 Canterbury Pilgrim). Since all trace to Pilgrimage, this accounts for that worthy x6.
Intriguingly enough, Fanfreluche’s dam, Ciboulette, has narry a line of Pilgrimage but she does have three lines of Plucky Liege via *Sir Gallahad III x2/*Bull Dog. Northern Dancer, however, has no Plucky Liege. Therefore, Fanfreluche’s is what we call a limited hybrid vigor match. It is limited because there is still other crossover inbreeding – to Cyllene, St. Simon, Ajax, Spearmint and Fair Play.
But there is a “however”….Of those crosses, three were balanced by this limited hybrid vigor: Cyllene via Polymelus-Maid of the Mist; Ajax via Teddy-Hors Concourse and Spearmint via Chicle-Plucky Liege. All six St. Simon lines were male, and the two Fair Play lines were both male as well.
We are proud to add not only Fanfreluche, but her dam Ciboulette as well to the Reine-de-Course list. Her daughters Grand Luxe and La Voyageuse are also welcomed to the fold.
This is a very solid family with many inbreeding opportunities and still some young mares which are bound to produce good stallions which may yet tip the scale toward sire power. Since the family has established itself in recent years as an international force, with power from Germany to Ireland to Japan to Australia, we believe we can safely say that it has now passed the “Canadian phase” and entered the world phase.