La Grisette

One of our basic jobs here at Reine-de-Course central is to fill in family lines that we have skirted about in the past in order to pull a family together.  Thus, the La Grisette clan, which we have previously addressed in our stories on Grey Flight (Pedlines #19, June 1997) and Mira Femme (Pedlines #74, January 2002) is about to get some finishing touches applied for our first Kentucky-based issue.

The single most important mare in this update is the mare Geisha, and she is most important as the dam of Native Dancer.  Geisha descends from La Grisette’s daughter La Chica by Sweep and her granddaughter Miyako by John P. Grier.

La Chica’s other important branch besides Miyako comes via Planetoid.  Planetoid’s most famous daughter, of course, is Grey Flight.  But the daughter we have not addressed is Just-A-Minute, by Whisk Broom II-line Can’t Wait.  And Just-A-Minute’s two main daughter lines (full sisters On The Move and Moving by Mafosta) have formed good regional branches.

In California, On The Move is responsible for Soviet Problem, second in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.  The Washington branch contains such local favorites (in the Evergreen state) as Belle of Rainier and Captain Condo.

Unfortunately, for the most part, the very regional nature of the California and Washington branches of the family have kept them from breaking out into the national spotlight.  Soviet Problem, in particular, has been a disappointment as a producer.  Belle of Rainier had only two foals.

Even part of Geisha’s family ended up in California and Washington.  One of the best California-based types was the good sprinter Valley Land, and in Washington Longacres Mile winner Bolulight led the way.  Since both were geldings, their racing careers were all they had to offer.

Geisha did have a more traditional branch via Native Dancer’s full sister Teahouse which is responsible for the good Sword Dancer horse Dundee Marmalade and also descending from this line is the intriguingly-bred Ewer All Wet, whose dam, Tall Glass o’Water, carries two Teahouse lines and whose overall pedigree reads Native Dancer x3/Teahouse x2.

Ewer All Wet did not threaten to make anyone forget Seattle Slew or Secretariat, but we were so fascinated with his pedigree that we wrote about him in Pedlines #40 (4/99) and #62 (2/01).

Another of Native Dancer’s full sisters, Mysterious East, was bred to his only conqueror, Dark Star, to produce a mare named Ancient Prophecy who is threatening to really make a name for herself.  Ancient Prophecy also ended up in Washington where she became the second dam of Soft Copy, a Staff Writer filly who won the Bay Meadows Oaks and who went on to produce several regional stakes horses.

But Ancient Prophecy later became the fourth dam of the multiple G2 winner Domestic Dispute and the third dam of multiple G1 placed Diane’s Halo.  Going to stud in 2005, Domestic Dispute now stands to be the most promising stallion from the Geisha line since Sagamore’s Grey Ghost, Native Dancer.

Soft Copy and Domestic Dispute, by the way, were, like Ewer All Wet, inbred to Native Dancer and one of his full sisters.  No mystery about this.  And Captain Courageous, who is prominent in the Washington-based pedigrees (Captain Condo, Castinette) traces to Grey Flight, so there is more inbreeding to La Grisette using her.

In fact, there is little mystery about using this bloodline (La Grisette) at all.  Every Grey Flight with a Native Dancer cross (think Priolo and Sovereign Dancer) is inbred to her.  And with Mira Femme, all kinds of Raise A Native and Northern Dancer lines supplied her with another La Grisette cross from Femme Elite to Native Splendor.

All things being equal, it is unfortunate that at least Geisha’s own tail-female line has not been guarded with more care.  In spite of the recent resurgence via Mysterious East, there is little doubt that previously singling out Grey Flight and Mira Femme was the right thing to do.  There are no such mares in this remaining group – at least not yet – so Geisha alone stands out as the dam of the “Grey Ghost”.

We’ll be watching the mysterious East branch very carefully to see how Domestic Dispute does at stud and how some of the female members of the family fare as well.  So far, Diane’s Halo has produced only one stake horse, a stakes placed filly called Tranquility Jane by Carson City.  But then they got off on a Broad Brush kick with her and he fits her not at all.  She was recently bred to Carson City Again as well as to Awesome Again.  Perhaps that will wake things up.

As always, we think a look at La Grisette’s own pedigree is worthwhile.  The grey daughter of the grey Roi Heroide was born in Great Britain in 1915 and was bred by Mrs. J. M. Walmsley.  She was imported in 1925 by Leslie Combs of Spendthrift Farm.

Roi Herode was an indifferent runner but great sire (his other Reine-de-Course daughters besides La Grisette include Cinq A Sept and Lady Comfey), and he outdid himself as a stallion in getting a truly superior son in The Tetrarch (sire of Mumtaz Mahal among others).

La Grisette was from the No. 5 family of The Massy Mare and was inbred along classic lines.  The Derby winners to which she was inbred are Thormanby and Hermit and Derby winner King Tom also appears.

King Tom, of course, is a half brother to 2000 Guineas and St. Leger winner Stockwell (“the Emperor of Stallions”) and Doncaster Cup winner Rataplan.  All were out of the large-heart mare Pocahontas, and she appears seven times overall in La Grisette’s pedigree.

Also present in multiples are St. Leger winner Newminster (x6) and Speculum (x2) as well as 2000 Guineas winner Vedette, founder of the St. Simon line.

La Grisette’s family is actually no different than any other.  Take a good foundation, nurture it with the right kind of stock, keep the family’s best daughters and do likewise with them, and the expected happens.  However, once the stray branches end up in cheap or inexperienced hands, the family grows ever weaker.

Take the example of Grey Flight, who was a half sister to Just-A-Minute.  Who would argue the merits of her sire (*Mahmoud) vs. that of Can’t Wait (sire of Just-A-Minute)?

Then take a few of Grey Flight’s mates like Bold Ruler, *Princequillo, *Nasrullah or *Ambiorix and compare them to Just-A-Minute’s Mafosta, Dogpatch or Solidarity.  Even late in life, when Just-A-Minute met Discovery, Fleet Nasrullah and Count Fleet, the matches were not so strong.

Mira Femme, though a California-bred, was consistently bred to the best:  Raise A Native, Hail to Reason, Never Bend, What A Pleasure and His Majesty were among her mates – and she made them all count.  So it’s really all about maintenance.  Generation after generation we build the history of a pedigree and every wrong step taken is a hurdle to be overcome.  Why make the already difficult task harder?

Thus the only new Reine-de-Course from these remaining La Grisette branches is Geisha – though we’re hoping to re-visit her daughter Mysterious East, too.  But one branch we’d really love to go back to and pick up one day is Soviet Problem.  She was a wonderful racehorse and we’d love to see her bred to her “perfect” mate, Rahy and get one more chance before it’s too late.  We made that suggestion way back in 1998 and it’s as good today as it was then.  How about it, folks?  Want to try to make a Reine?

Family 5-F