It has often been written of Col. E. R. Bradley that he would gamble on anything. The life of his beloved La *Troienne, however, was the exception.
The daughter of *Teddy had lost the vision in her right eye and ran into a tree on her blind side during a thunderstorm in 1938. The muscles were so badly torn in her right shoulder it was first thought that the 13-year-old mare would have to be destroyed. When farm manager Olin Gentry informed Col. Bradley of the situation, he responded, “Put ten men with her night and day if it will help. We’ll never get another like her.”
The foal *La Troienne was carrying at the time of the mishap was the Blue Larkspur filly Businesslike. Businesslike wasn’t much of a racemare, starting just twice and never winning or placing. But had *La Troienne been destroyed, we would have missed not only all that came after, but Businesslike’s own descendents. Imagine, for instance, a world without Buckpasser, Outstandingly, Polish Navy, Easy Goer, Slew o’ Gold and many others. Businesslike appears in all their pedigrees.
Yet for all her largess of heritage, Businesslike is one of *La Troienne’s lesser daughters. For any other mare in the stud book, producing Businesslike would have been plenty, but not for a legend like *La Troienne.
*La Troienne, in foal to Chef-de-Race Gainsborough, was purchased from breeder Marcel Boussac at the Newmarket December sale of 1930 for 1250 guineas (about $6,000 American dollars). The Gainsborough filly she produced the following spring was crooked and was subsequently destroyed, but *La Troienne had already gained in value, since her three-quarter sister Adargatis had won the Prix de Diane (French Oaks.)
Adargatis later became an excellent producer in her own right, founding a branch of the family which is responsible for Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Ardan, multiple stakes winner Pardal and American Horse of the Year Spend A Buck. For her contributions to the stud book, Adargatis was named a Reine-de-Course in September of 1995.
Through 1946, the year of Col. Bradley’s death, *La Troienne produced 11 foals for her owner. Of those eleven, Black Helen, Biologist, Big Hurry and Bee Ann Mac were stakes winners. Broke Even was stakes placed and daughters like Baby League, Businesslike, Besieged and Belle Histoire, who did not win stakes, became major producers.
The Bradley stock was sold in 1946 to a syndicate composed of Greentree Stud, King Ranch and Ogden Phipps. Greentree was lucky enough to get *La Troienne herself, while Ogden Phipps received the benefit of some of her daughters, as a look at many of his horses’ pedigrees will attest. For Greentree, *La Troienne produced the filly Belle of Troy by Blue Larkspur, and the durable but hardly brilliant gelding Trojan War, by Shut Out.
Even at that, Greentree made out all right. Belle of Troy’s branch of the *La Troienne dynasty is responsible for Bluegrass Stakes winner Proud Appeal; Hollywood Gold Cup winners Super Diamond and Cutlass Reality; Milady Handicap winner Seldom Seen Sue and Brooklyn Handicap winner Cohoes.
A Greentree Stud who pensioned their famous geldings (called “the Gashouse Gang”) was not about to turn *La Troienne out after her producing days had ended. She lived on at Greentree as a pensioner until six years after her last foal was born.
On January 30, 1954, the legend drew her final breath and it was left to her daughters, granddaughters, great-grandaughters and generations beyond to carry the banner of the *La Troienne dynasty. If *La Troienne is looking on from whatever verdant pastures are assigned to immortals in Paradise, she is pleased indeed with what she sees.
When a mare is conceded legendary status by even the most casual members of the racing fraternity, most breeders are aware that she is something special. To put her recent impact in every-day terms, a current printout on *La Troienne herself (which does not bring one up-to-date on such horses as Easy Goer or Cutlass Reality) is more than 80 pages long.
In Family Tables of Racehorses, Vol. III, *La Troienne’s descendents have three full pages assigned to them and this book takes into account only the most important stakes horses in the world. Thus Group II winners like Confidential Talk; Grade II winners Rigamajig and Glowing Honor; and Grade III winner Forest Glow may not be listed.
Although most emphasis is placed on *La Troienne’s daughters, it would be a mistake to suggest that her best son Bimelech had no impact at all. Bimelech, a 1937 son of Black Toney, was a champion and classic winner (Preakness). At stud, he sired 30 stakes winners including Better Self, Brookfield, Dark Ruler, Hilarious, Register and Bymeabond. In addition, Bimelech’s name is very much alive and well in current pedigrees through the progeny of such stallion descendents as Fappiano, Deputy Minister and Riverman.
Still, it is mainly the daughters who carry banner of the *La Troienne dynasty, each in her own inimitable fashion, and although Big Hurry and Baby League’s branches are undoubtedly the strongest, none of the others need hang their heads in shame, for all of them have contributed something precious.
One of the more interesting phenomenons which occurs with the various branches of the *La Troienne family is well illustrated in the Striking sub-branch of the Baby League branch and the Allemande sub-branch of the Big Hurry branch: Ogden Phipps, who possessed several members of *La Troienne’s female line, began inbreeding to this dynamic mare.
Note for instance, his use of Buckpasser (from the Businesslike branch) as a mate for Numbered Account (from the Baby League branch) or Buckpasser for Marking Time (from the Big Hurry branch). This pattern may have been merely a function of Phipps’ having the individuals from this clan available, rather than crossing them with any thought of inbreeding to *La Troienne. Whatever the thinking, the creation of a classic racehorse like Easy Goer or a producer like Numbered Account is difficult to ignore.
With the additional evidence of My Charmer (3 x 3 to full sisters Striking and Busher, both daughters of *La Troienne), who foaled the incomparable Seattle Slew and that further, Slew appreciates yet another cross or two of *La Troienne in his mates, the evidence for inbreeding to this grand matron is overwhelming.
Although Seattle Slew himself is not a direct descendent of *La Troienne, there are a multitude of good ones from which to choose a favorite. That in itself is a difficult task. But apart from the great producing daughters, any of which might qualify, one would be hard put to find a better example of overall excellence on the track and in the breeding shed than Buckpasser.
Artist Richard Stone Reeves, whose talented paintbrush has captured many of our greatest racehorses, considered Buckpasser the perfect physical specimen. NYRA veterinarian Manuel Gilman agreed, saying, “It is said that every horse has 100 faults of conformation, but I would defy anybody to pick a flaw in Buckpasser.”
Indeed, if Buckpasser possessed a flaw it was his shelly feet, which kept him out of the 1966 Triple Crown races, or his lazy training habits. But conformationally, Buckpasser was a picture and his temperament was as good as his looks.
Both Buckpasser’s parents, Tom Fool and Busanda, won the Suburban Handicap and their son won it himself in 1967, but he was far from just a handicap star. As a two year old, he won nine of 11 starts, finishing off the board only in his debut and running second to Priceless Gem, another *La Troienne relation, and the dam of superior French filly Allez France, in the 1965 Futurity Stakes.
At three, despite not competing in the Triple Crown, Buckpasser won 13 of 14 starts, losing only a betless exhibition race to his stablemate Impressive. Impressive also figured in one of Buckpasser’s more dazzling performances, the Arlington Classic, setting up a mile world record of 1:32 3/5 for Buckpasser by running an internal six furlong fraction of 1:06 4/5. At one point, Buckpasser won 15 races in a row, and his stakes victories were of the highest class: the Champagne, Hopeful, Flamingo, Jockey Club Gold Cup, Woodward, Travers, Malibu, Metropolitan, Suburban and San Fernando.
Though he failed to defeat Damascus, Buckpasser did finish ahead of Dr. Fager in the 1967 Woodward, which would prove his last start. His brilliant record was taken to stud, where he would grace the stud book far too short a time before his untimely death of a heart attack at age 15.
Buckpasser was syndicated for $4.8 million and became a great sire, getting rather better fillies than colts with such champions as Numbered Account, La Prevoyante and Relaxing. With such a record, it was no surprise that it is as a broodmare sire that Buckpasser is best remembered, his daughters having produced such outstanding horses as Slew O’Gold, Woodman, Private Acount, Believe It, Miswaki and Easy Goer. Both Slew O’ Gold and Easy Goer, were champions and were, of course, inbred to *La Troienne.
It should also be mentioned that although Buckpasser did not get a son who truly carried on the male line, he did get Buckaroo, whose son Spend A Buck won the 1985 Kentucky Derby; and Silver Buck, whose Silver Charm won the 1997 Kentucky Derby and Preakness. What is interesting about these two horses is that while Spend A Buck’s sire was inbred to *La Troienne, his female family is that of *La Troienne’s three-quarter sister Adargatis, making him one of the most uniquely bred Kentucky Derby winners in recent memory. Silver Charm is himself inbred to *La Troienne, via Businesslike and Baby League. Further, Buckpasser’s son, Norcliffe, is the sire of At The Threshold, sire of 1992 Kentucky Derby winner Lil E. Tee.
There is nothing in the history books to suggest that breeders started out to create the great inbreeding pattern of doubling or tripling *La Troienne, rather it appears that since so many good horses trace to her, it was a cross which was simply bound to happen. Even if accidentally, the first breeder to have stumbled across this notion created one of the most influential inbreeding patterns of modern times.
In retrospect, it is hardly surprising that inbreeding to *La Troienne works so well, for her own pedigree is a virtual treasure trove of great bloodlines. She is inbred 6 x 5 x 6 x 5 to St. Simon’s sire Galopin, and in turn has a 5 x 4 x 6 cross of St. Simon and his ful sister Angelica.
In addition, she has a 6 x 4 x 5 x 6 cross of Epsom Derby winner Bend Or, scion of the Phalaris line, and a 5 x 5 cross of the full siblings Ormonde and Ornament. Ormonde was the unbeaten wonder horse of his day and a scion of the Teddy tail-male line. We also find a 6 x 6 cross of Sterling, sire of Isonomy, who founded he Swynford/Blandford line. *La Troienne also has a 5 x 6 cross to Derby winner and great broodmare sire Macaroni, a member of the Herod male line.
Yet another Derby winner, Hermit, appears 6 x 6, supported entirely by *La Troienne’s dam, Helene de Troie. Helen de Troie also supports a 5 x 5 cross of the great stayer Isonomy (Ascot Gold Cup), another link in the tail-male line of Swynford/Blandford.
Original Reines-de-Course named to the *La Troienne family in 1992 were the great mare herself, Allemande, Baby League, Be Like Mom, Belle Histoire, Belle Of Troy, Big Hurry, Black Helen, Blackball, Busanda, Glamour, Intriguing, No Fiddling, Regal Gleam, Searching, Straight Deal, and Striking. To their number, we later added Big Event, Glowing Tribute, Never Hula and Numbered Account to bring the family up to date and subsequently added Relaxing.
There is little doubt where *La Troienne fits into history, as hers is a living history of excellence whose impact neither fades nor lessens with successive generations. Even in 1938, Col. Bradley knew that there would never be another one like her.