One of the nicest things about Reines-de-Course is their ability to go on giving long after they themselves have died. Like great sire lines, great female families contribute as much to the day-in and day-out business of racing as they do to the history books.
In the case of Humanity, a 1916 daughter of Voter-Red Cross IV by Macdonald II, one can see her influence each time a son or daughter of Seattle Slew races. Her blood is just as apparent in the offspring of Riva Ridge mares; in the Raise A Native line through Case Ace as the taproot for Express Tour; and in the offspring of Florida sire Proud Birdie, a Marlboro Cup winner who has quietly gone about siring the earners of $10 million and 32 stakes winners including the outstanding sprinter Birdonthewire and $400,000 earner Birdie Belle.
Humanity’s story is a tale of racing opportunity lost and redemption achieved by the later gifts of her bloodline. Master trainer Preston Burch traveled to France as a young man to train for Ernest La Montagne; later, he handled the horses of John Sanford. While abroad, Burch purchased for Sanford a yearling filly by Macdonald II-Reine De Naples later named *Red Cross IV. The asking price, a record at the time, was $25,000.
Because of World War I, *Red Cross IV did not race, but was sent immediately to the breeding shed where she was mated to Voter, producing the filly Humanity in 1916. Later, mother and daughter both were imported to the U. S., Humanity in 1917 and *Red Cross IV in 1925.
Like her dam before her, Humanity also was unraced and was bred as a three year old to Ultimus. While in foal to that son of Commando, *Humanity was sold to Brownell Combs, for whom she foaled a filly later named Sweetheart.
Sweetheart more than made up for her dam and grandam’s lack of opportunity at the track. A very good racemare, she won 13 races including the Ashland Handicap. Sweetheart also ran second in the Kentucky Oaks. Nevertheless, she did not stay in Combs’ possession for long but was sold in foal to Man o’ War for $35,000. Her buyer, F. Wallis Armstrong later joked, “She (Sweetheart) was the cheapest mare I ever bought”.
Continuing the family tradition, Sweetheart’s first foal was a filly named Warrior Lass who earned only $900 at the races but who became the ancestress of such good horses as Prix de Diane winner Harbour; Belmont Stakes winner Bounding Home and Vosburg winner King’s Swan, who won the Grey Lag Handicap under 130 pounds, ran til the age of 10 and became one of the most popular horses ever to race in New York.
One of the more defining members of the Humanity/Sweetheart line, King’s Swan was more than the “winter Aqueduct” horse he started out to be. Claimed for 80,000, King’s Swan became a cause celebre among fans and writers alike. One correspondent wrote of his Grey Lag Handicap:
“Upon the back of this aged Thoroughbred was the package that would make or break his reputation, a package consisting of Jose Santos and enough lead to make up his 130 pound weight assignment. The least he conceded to his four rivals was 13 pounds, the most 24. Forego had not done it. John Henry was never asked to. Indeed, only Kelso as an eight-year-old had carried 130 pounds to victory around two turns in a graded stake, once conceding 21 pounds, once 16 to the runnerup.
“Would King’s Swan join such elite company this March day? Less than two minutes elapsed before the son of King’s Bishop delivered an affirmative five-length answer, laughing at the heavy weight and underscoring his total dominance of New York winter racing such as no horse before him had done.”
Also among Sweetheart’s descendents were Seattle Slew’s sire Bold Reasoning, who stood only two and a half years at stud but sired besides his Triple Crown winning son, a European champion in King Concorde. Sweetheart’s ancestors also number champion and classic winner Riva Ridge, whose unique personality always made him Penny Tweedy’s favorite, even over his imposing stablemate, Secretariat.
If there have been mighty triumphs in this family, there also have been tragedies. Bold Reasoning’s early death ranks among the most glaring, though it has also often been lamented that King’s Swan is a gelding and Preakness winner Bold was struck and killed by lightning in his paddock.
Obviously, without the pivotal presence of Sweetheart-Humanity-Red Cross IV, there would have been no Seattle Slew. That fact in and of itself stamps this grouping of mares for greatness, much as Sister Sarah’s presence in the pedigree of Northern Dancer makes her a standout.
Because Bold Reasoning died so young and sired such a few foals, his story begs retelling here. Unraced at two because he rapped himself in his stall near a tendon and later punctured the frog of his foot stepping on a safety pin, Bold Reasoning made his debut in March of his three year old season and won a maiden race at Gulfstream Park. The colt continued unbeaten through his first seven starts which included victories in the Withers and Jersey Derby and allowance wins over good older runners like Protanto and The Pruner.
Bothered throughout his career by a recurring throat problem, he was withheld from the Belmont, a race one of his owners, Charles Hargrove, thought he could win. But trainer Nick Gonzalez felt otherwise. “Bold Reasoning had been bothered all of his racing career by a throat ailment which he developed at two. It kept him from ever reaching his peak. It bothered him before the Jersey Derby, but he ran good anyway. He won that race because he was a super horse, but I knew he could not stand a race like the Belmont Stakes just five days later. I never was worried about his stamina, because a horse like Bold Reasoning could beat any horse in America at equal weights when he was right.”
Bold Reasoning ran five times after his seven-race winning streak, but could manage only one more win, a six furlong allowance race in which he lowered the Belmont Park track standard by 1/5 second, running the distance in 1:08 4/5. He then ran second in the Metropolitan Mile and his final race came in an allowance contest in which he banged his head against the side of the starting gate, breaking off several teeth and returning with a cough as well as a splint.
So, in spite of a career filled with injuries and other physical problems, Bold Reasoning had shown himself to be a very fast, very courageous and very classy horse. He also had the blood of Humanity to back him up – the kind of stallion Nelson Bunker Hunt loved. The Texas millionaire purchased the big colt and sent him to stand at Claiborne Farm. Yet by the time Seattle Slew got to the races, Bold Reasoning was already dead of colic caused by a breeding shed accident.
While Bold Reasoning’s loss can never be measured, this is a family which continues to grow and contribute in many other ways. Miss Toshiba, the Vanity Handicap winner whose fifth dam is Sweetheart, has foaled stakes winner Northeastern and three other stakes placed horses; Riva Ridge’s daughters continue to produce stakes horses like Classy Mirage; Misukaw is the dam of two stakes winners including Spinaway Stakes winner Share The Fantasy and perhaps most fascinating of all is the Grade I winning Seattle Slew mare Life At The Top, who is inbred to Sweetheart 7 x 7 and is already a major producer. (Seattle Slew’s son Tsunami Slew is likewise inbred to Humanity through another branch, Humane, a half sister to Sweetheart by Broadside, a son of Man o’ War.)
The pedigrees of Humanity, Sweetheart, and to a lesser extent Commotion, Humming Bird and Humane are a must for study. Humanity had an extremely complex pedigree. She is inbred 3 x 4 to unbeaten Barcaldine, male line ancestor of 1917 Kentucky Derby winner Omar Khayyam and founder of the Hurry On (Precipitation) line. Barcaldine in turn traces in direct male descent to Melbourne to whom Voter, sire of Sweetheart, is inbred.
Humanity also was inbred 4 x 6 to the delicate Newminster, a horse who many blame as being the source of bleeders; 5 x 6 to great stayer and sire Touchstone, supported only by her sire; 5 x 6 x 6 to Stockwell “the Emperor of stallions”; 5 x 5 to Galliard; 5 x 6 to Sister To Bird, supported only by her sire; 5 x 6 Orlando, who won the Epsom Derby upon the qualificating of Running Rein, who was actually a four year old.
In addition, Humanity was 6 x 6 to Thormanby, Derby and Ascot Gold Cup winner and maternal sire of Bend Or. It has been suggested that Thormanby could be one source of the “Bend Or spots” as he had numerous black spots scattered throughout his (chestnut) coat. Finally, Humanity was 6 x 5 x 6 to Galopin supported only by her dam. Wrote Joe Palmer of Galopin, “the last produce of a Galopin and all great sires have a way of boiling down, as the years go by, to a single tag-line. Galopin sired St. Simon.”
Now how did Sweetheart’s pedigree compare? Hers is a limited “hybrid vigor” pedigree, crossing the Domino-inbred sire Ultimus to the Barcaldine/ Galliard inbred dam Humanity on a Stockwell background. Ultimus gets his Domino in sex-balanced fashion through his sire Commando and the dam Running Stream, while Humanity gets both her Barcaldine crosses from mares, Mavoureen and Myrtledine. Humanity’s Galliard inbreeding is sex-balanced, daughter Black Duchess to son War Dance. The Stockwell is then layered 6 x 6 x 6 x 7 x 7 and is presented three sons (Doncaster, Belladrum and Breadalbane) to two daughters (Isola Bella and Princess of Wales).
In essence, what Ultimus did for Humanity’s pedigree is not easily seen even in looking as deep as a six generation pedigree. What we have here is the crossing of two incredibly inbred horses with the common bond of Stockwell. However, we also have the advantage of crossing the old American strain of Lexington, to whom Ultimus was inbred eight times, to the European strains of Galopin, Newminster, Melbourne, etc.
The end result is that the intense inbreeding is farther back than six generations, with only the Stockwell and the limited hybrid vigor “showing”. This is the advantage of taking two highly inbred individuals who share just one powerful common bond (Stockwell) and using it on the background of different inbreeding, thus creating a better, or “hybrid” result.
In Sweetheart, we were unable to see how it would have worked at the tracetrack, but at stud, the variety and number of excellent stakes horses in both France and the U. S. who trace to her stand as testament that it most certainly worked in the breeding shed. Further, we now have top-class proof that inbreeding to this cross can produce horses as good as Life At The Top.
Life At The Top (Seattle Slew-See You At The Top by Riva Ridge) was a multiple grade I winner, annexing among other races the Mother Goose and Ladies Handicap. She is inbred to Sweetheart’s daughter Warrior Lass 6 x 5 through the two daughters Marching Home and War East. In this fine runner and broodmare, the multiple inbreeding patterns discussed above all backed up the intensely inbred sire (Seattle Slew) and a dam who brought crosses of Blenheim II, Man o’ War and Turn-To to fortify his inbreeding and to aid in extending the dynasty Humanity and Sweetheart began.
In Humanity’s daughter Commotion we have a far less intensely-inbred sire, Pennant, who nevertheless has fine inbreeding to Pocahontas through doubles of Rataplan and Stockwell plus a cross of King Tom. In Commotion’s own six-cross the results are eight Pocahontas crosses.
Other inbreeding is a 4 x 4 of Derby winner and classic sire Hermit (balanced through Friar’s Balsam/Cinderella) and 4 x 5 of Hampton (scion of the Hyperion and Son-In-Law male lines). Because Hermit and Hampton are son and grandson respectively of Newminster, this gives a good blend of Newminster and Stockwell, though it lacks the speed of Domino. It is undoubtedly this difference that made Sweetheart rather than Commotion the main agent of Humanity’s continuing influence.
Humane, whose branch is responsible for champion Mac Diarmida and Grade I winner Tsunami Slew, had a very complex pedigree. She is inbred to to Humanity’s sixth dam, Rouge Rose in the following fashion: Roxelane, the third dam of Humanity, is by a son of Galliard (War Dance) out of a daughter of Rouge Rose (Rose of York). Humane’s sire, Broadside was by Man o’ War by Fair Play. Fair Play was out of Fairy Gold whose sire, Bend Or, was out of Rouge Rose; his dam was a daughter of Galliard. So the very close relatives Fairy Gold and Roxelane are one of the more important aspects of this pedigree. In addition, there are multiples of Galopin through a doube of St. Simon and daughter Vampire and a double of Rock Sand through Broadside as well as Humanity’s own Barcaldine layered on a 6 x 6 x 5 cross of Hampton.
Humming Bird, whose branch is responsible for Metropolitan Mile winner Gun Bow, is inbred 4 x 4 to Roxelane, the third dam of Humanity. Since Roxelane is a granddaughter of Rouge Rose, there are three crosses in all of Rouge Rose, another coming from Bend Or. Other important inbreeding is a triple of Galopin and Hampton layered on Humming Bird’s own Barcaldine, while her sire, Stefan The Great, is also inbred to King Tom and Speculum.
Sweetheart, the strongest branch, produced not only a major sire in Bold Reasoning, but also good sires Riva Ridge, Proud Birdie and Case Ace. Female descendents like Minstinguette, Here’s To You, Miss Toshiba and Misukaw prevent this from being an all-male branch, however.
With the hope that Commotion, Humming Bird or Humane’s branches one day produce a runner or sire good enough to raise her to Sweetheart’s level, we will for now name just Humanity, Sweetheart, Warrior Lass, and Marching Home to the Reine-de-Course list. We may well be returning to add a few more names in the not-too-distant future.