A Real Whitney Mare

In making up our list of Reines to do, we sometimes seem to operate by owners.  We did a group of Bradley mares all at once, for instance – a group of Aga Khan mares, a group of Calumet mares and so forth.  Lately, we’ve done a few of the Whitney mares like Frilette and Dear Birdie.  (However, to be perfectly accurate, Dear Birdie is actually from a Bradley family, Padua).

Having said that, we now come to the family of Forget, a chestnut mare foaled in 1893 and acquired by Harry Payne Whitney after what can only be called a punishing career.  Forget did what seems impossible in today’s world of fragile six-start wonders – she really ran herself out.  The daughter of Exile made 93 starts, 35 of which were in steeplechase events, and she won 33 races.

A Tough and Versatile Family

At stud, Forget produced seven stakes winners including Brooklyn Handicap winner Borrow, who also won the Middle Park Stakes in England.  Today we remember her via just one major daughter, Remembrance by Whitney’s Ben Brush.  It is from this mare, who historian Abram S. Hewitt called, “Very ordinary, both on the track and at stud,” that the family blossomed to include classic winners Twenty Grand, Hours After and Avatar, Chef-de-Race Run The Gantlet and major winners like Fisherman, Hawkster,  Xtra Heat, Mahogany Hall, Spit Curl and Dance of Life to mention only a few.

It is a family which seems to get an extra bit of toughness from its roots, producing horses like One For All, Count Amber and Mustard Plaster.  But it does not lack speed or precocity (Xtra Heat, Quill, Traffic).  Members seem equally adept competing in G1’s on dirt in the U. S. or daisy-cutting their way across turf courses in Europe.

Two Special Runners

We all have favorite family members of any good group of horses, and for us, Twenty Grand and Fisherman are our favorites from the Remembrance clan.  Fisherman caught our attention when we were just entering racing as a youngster and his ability to run well on both dirt (Travers) and turf (the D. C. International) was later reflected in our choice of Round Table as our all-time favorite.  The small, nearly black son of Phalanx made a journey few Americans dare try today – along with his stablemate Career Boy, he tried the deep waters of the Arc – and ran into no less a giant than *Ribot.

A Blood Horse account of the race stated the following, “The going was heavy and the weather dull, but there was a big crowd and the record for the pari-mutual was broken.  The horses were quiet in the parade and the most impressive canters were those of *Ribot, Fisherman, Tanerko and Apollonia.

“The start was made at once and Fisherman took up his appointed task of making the pace.  Fisherman got up the hill and down at the same hard pace, always with Norfolk and *Ribot next behind him.  At the last turn Norfolk and Apollonia were weakening, *Ribot gaining.”

*Ribot, of course, won his second Arc that day and while Fisherman was given full credit for ensuring a good pace (and giving his stablemate a good run to be fourth), it was painful to watch him play rabbit upon such a stage.  But Whitney’s sportsmanship was roundly applauded and Fisherman was not disgraced.

Sadly, like all Rock Sand-line horses, Fisherman did not excel at stud.  Today we find his name but seldom in pedigrees, the most recent major winner being Tenski (G1) who carries his wondrous bloodline.

Perhaps even sadder than Fisherman’s fate was that of Twenty Grand’s.  The marvelous champion runner, who carried the silks of Greentree Stud, did not sire a single foal.  He thus became the second important horse from the family, following Hopeful winner Boojum, to be at least functionally sterile.  (Boojum did get a handful of foals, 19 in nine years to be exact).

However, during his racing days, Twenty Grand was a glory and a smattering of quotes concerning his Kentucky Derby win have him as everything from the next Man o’ War to the likely Belmont winner by “a city block”.  Showing some measure of character, however, Twenty Grand wanted nothing to do with the roses he had won, refusing to have the floral wreath placed about his neck.  “No, sir, Twenty Grand is no sissy.  Flowers my eye!” reported Ed Danforth of the Atlanta Constitution.

But perhaps our favorite thing written about the the classic is the following poem penned by “Kildare” and printed in the June 6, 1931 Blood Horse:


 From the running of the race,

And the way in which he won,

It appears we have a champion,

In *St. Germans’ handsome son.

A mile last fall in one-three-six

Stamped him a real good colt,

But when he, in the Preakness, failed,

His fond admirers got a jolt.

However, he redeemed himself

In brilliant style today.

Though we all regret that Equipoise

Was confined to the hay.

 Oh sure, they’ll come another day,

When they shall meet again,

And Twenty Grand, it seems to me,

Will still continue to reign:

For Jimmy Rowe, and Greentree

Seem, this early in the year,

From the other 3-year-olds,

To have nothing much to fear.

No finer sportswoman have we got

Than the owner of the “pink and black”;

May they oft be worn by Kurtsinger

Who did so well on Churchill Track.

 What fun, that poem!  Imagine someone writing an ode to one of our modern horses with the same thought.  The last time we remember a bunch of poems being written about a special Thoroughbred, it was when Ruffian died.

Twenty Grand went on to win the Belmont, racing the fastest time since the race had been run at 1 ½ miles, 2:29 3/5.  After the classic, he won the Dwyer, Travers, Saratoga Cup, Lawrence Realization and Jockey Club Gold Cup.  After wrenching his back in the Dwyer, he did lose the Classic to Mate, his Preakness conqueror, but still was easily champion of his age and sex.  An ankle injury ended his career before his four-year-old season and he retired with eight wins in 10 starts.

The Sire

With Fisherman unable to continue the Rock Sand line, Twenty Grand sterile and Belmont winner Avatar and his brothers Unconscious and Monseigneur mediocre at best, it was thus left to Tom Rolfe’s champion son Run The Gantlet to become the only major stallion from the family.

Run The Gantlet really did not have much of a stallion’s pedigree, with his *Ribot and *Princequillo lines (thus St. Simon doubled) suggesting a better filly pedigree.  Nonetheless, the horse overcame this “handicap” as well as his grassy racing career.  Today he would hardly see a mare.

However, Run The Gantlet not only became a success, he became a Chef-de-Race (though a Professional designee), siring such good runners as April Run (Prix Vermeille, 3rd in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and Prix Diane as well as a champion turf runner in the U. S.), Commanche Run (Benson & Hedges Gold Cup, Irish Champion Stakes), Providential (D. C. International, 3rd in the Prix Du Jockey Club) and Ardross (Ascot Gold Cup, Prix Royal Oak).  Not a sprinter in the lot, but quality through and through.

 The Pedigree

The pedigree which spawned this foundation mare is rich with history.  She is inbred to leading American sire Lexington x3, and two of those crosses are via Travers winner Kentucky, who appears via two of his daughters.

She is also linebred to Pocahontas (1837) x5  via Stockwell x3/Rataplan/Knight of Kars.  The Baron, sire of Stockwell and Rataplan, appears not just via those two sons but also via two daughter lines (Merlette and Comtesse).

Ample Herod blood other than Lexington also comes into play via a double of Gladiator.

Remembrance had a fine background for the laying on of St. Simon and Bend Or blood which was to come in the next few generations.  She carries but one Bend Or line via Sylvabelle and one of St. Simon’s sire, Galopin, via Galliard.

Thus the introduction of horses like Phalanx, *Ribot and of course various Native Dancer lines via both Northern Dancer and Raise A Native had fertile ground into which to plant their considerably gifted seeds.  Such mares serve well to show us how only in understanding the past can we hope to predict the future.

The New Reines-de-Course

 It is always very exciting to us to name new mares to the Reine list.  We hope that as each of these families are honored that a small breeder out there somewhere – and some big ones as well – can find another key to build upon.

Thus our foundation mare Forget and her special daughter Remembrance, as well as Crawfish, Alms, and Quill are now added to the list.  There are some lines we hope to come back to as always – especially that of Brown Berry.

Blood never sleeps, so you just never know which one of the Remembrance tribe might pop up with another Twenty Grand or Run The Gantlet.  Xtra Heat or one of her sisters is our likely source.  We’ll be watching.

Family 5-G