Let Her Fly

The Let Her Fly Branch of Magnolia

Ancient and Enduring

She was named for one of the oldest flowers in the world, a flower so ancient it came into being before there were bees to pollinate it.  It was therefore tough enough to allow beetles to do the job, thus looking delicate while in fact being very hardy indeed.  The same might be said of Magnolia and her descendents.

We have written much about Magnolia’s most famous descendent, Maggie B. B., whose branches and sub-branches occupy no less than nine pages in the current volume of Family Tables, which of course lists only the most important stake horses under the main branches.  If the entire clan were to be listed, the books would be too heavy to place upon a table!

Magnolia did not just produce Maggie B. B.’s dam, Madeline, but also Kentucky by Lexington, a colt who won the 1864 Travers.  In addition she got a good Japanese branch via Pike’s Peak (1883 by Lelaps) which includes Japanese Derby winners Merry Nice and Asa Denko.  Then there is our current subject, Skedaddle.

 Close – But No Maggie B. B.

Skedaddle has been on our “to do” list for a very long time and Bernardini and his dam, Cara Rafaela, have pushed us into finally taking action.  There has never been anything wrong with the Skedaddle branch of Magnolia; it simply cannot help but suffer by comparison to its very close relation, Maggie B. B.

Comparing the pedigrees of the two is revealing:  They share the Magnolia line, of course.  Magnolia is the second dam of Maggie B. B., and first dam of Skedaddle.  They also have in common the closely related sires Young Emilius and St. Nicholas, who are “full brothers in blood” – i.e. by the same sire and out of full sisters (like King Pellinore and Apalachee).

They also share multiple lines of Penelope/Prunella, plus Selim and Waxy as well as the closely related Cervantes and Orville who share an Eclipse/Herod/Evelina nexus.

There is little to separate them except circumstance, but both have done Magnolia proud.  If one might endow a Thoroughbred mare with pride, then surely Magnolia smiles down from whatever Heaven horses enjoy on Maggie B. B. in particular, but on Skedaddle as well.


Magnolia was bred by James R. Jackson of Alabama.  She was presented to the Honorable Henry Clay by Dr. W. N. Mercer of New Orleans and remained the property of the Clay estate until her death in 1864.  From her, he bred the dynasty we have already discussed in Maggie B. B., a dynasty which remains strong to this day.

It is of special interest, we believe, that Magnolia’s dam, Myrtle, was by Derby winner and St. Leger second Mamaluke, so classic blood was close up in the foundation of the pedigree.  That such blood retains its classicism to this day via Bernardini and Light Shift gives this family its current cachet.

Skedaddle was bred by John M. Clay and his wife Josephine (nee Josephine Russell).  Her father was a political ally of Henry Clay and Josephine first visited the Clay’s Ashland estate, the finest stock farm in Kentucky, when she was only a child.

Often left alone to manage Ashland as a young bride, Josephine became one of the earliest experts on pedigrees.  When Clay died, she took over Ashland, became one of the first really liberated women of her time and even bred a Kentucky Derby winner in Riley (1890).

Overall, 11 Kentucky Derby winners were bred on the Ashland property, most of them descending from Clay’s famed foundation mares Magnolia and Margaret Woods.  Many, like Skedaddle, were by Clay’s fine sire Yorkshire.


Skedaddle is the tail-female descendent of a Kentucky Derby winner,  1878 victor Day Star; a Kentucky Oaks winner in Come And Go (1945); an Argentine classic winner in Lord Jim and two nice G1 fillies in Miss Iron Smoke (Spinaway S.) and Love Street (Sorority S.)  Then there is Let Her Fly, the real “meat” of the family.  (For the purposes of this story, we will be dealing only with her and the attached chart will reflect this.  Obviously, due to space limitations with so old a line, only the major winners will be listed.)

Let Her Fly was an unraced half sister to stakes winners Houston and Lady Hannibal, neither of which won major stakes.  She was sired by the French stallion *Pataud, a grandson of St. Simon.

From these humble roots came a voluminous number of stakes winners from Travers victor Arise to Broodmare of the Year Cara Rafaela and her classic-winning son Bernardini to Jockey Club Gold Cup victor On The Sly to Alabama Stakes victress White Star Line.

If the line has a fault, it is that it has not produced a horse which can be said to have altered the breed in any meaningful way.  Maggie B. B., on the other hand, could have a book written about Fall Aspen, Alablue, Cozzene, or Unbridled’s Song, all of which have made enormous contributions to the breed was we know it today.

The nice thing about all this is that Bernardini could be the horse who changes the tide of the Skedaddle branch of Magnolia.  And his dam is not yet through producing, so this chapter of this family’s story is not yet complete by any means.

Bad News In A Major Double Up

One mare in particular we want to point out in the immediate family is G1 winner Miss Huntington by Torsion.  She is the most important winner inbred to the immediate family, carrying a 3 x 3 cross of half sisters Fast Line and Nimble Feet (x2 Throttle Wide).

Miss Huntington was a stakes producer, getting listed stakes winner Hollywood Reporter by Saratoga Six.  However, she got six colts from nine reported foals and that is never a good thing.

Of her three daughters, none have made a dent in saving the family tree.  One is a full sister to Hollywood Reporter by Saratoga Six named Canfield Miss who had a dead foal her first year at stud.  Our current printout showed nothing else for her.  Miss Huntington’s A. P. Jet daughter, Miss Miracle, also produced a dead foal in her first outing.

So if this daughter of Torsion is going to carry on, the likely agent will probably be her Alysheba daughter On My Shoulder, who had just one foal – a daughter by Matty G. named Star Julia.  Star Julia has had several foals, none of note to date, but perhaps if she is bred back to something that fits well there is a chance to save this notable mare’s contribution.

Other, Better Chances

In addition to the advent of Cara Rafaela as a major force, there are several other top lines under this immediate family worth looking at:  Kentucky Oaks winner White Star line has several good producing daughters including Lustre (by Halo) who is the dam of three major European winners including G1 placed =Dublin (IRE).  Her Reference Point (Mill Reef) daughter Hill of Snow (GB) is also a good producer, getting champion Preseli by Caerleon and classic placed Snowfire (GB) by Machiavellian.

Another Mill Reef-line mare from this family who is doing well is Lingerie by Shirley Heights out of champion Northern Trick, a Prix de Diane (French Oaks) winner.  Lingerie is the dam of European staying champion Shiva (JPN) by Hector Protector; this year’s Epsom Oaks winner Light Shift, by Kingmambo; Prix Foy (G2) winner Limos (JPN), also by Hector Protector and Group 2 placed Burning Sunset (GB) by Caerleon.

Then, under CCA Oaks winner Magazine, note the young Alzao mare Token Gesture (IRE), herself a G3 winner.  She is the dam of Canadian International (G1) winner Relaxed Gesture by Indian Ridge and Evolving Tactics (G2) by Machiavellian.

Finally, the *Grey Dawn II mare Mostly has a thriving branch which includes Canadian Broodmare of the Year Primarily and her champions children Poetically (Silver Deputy) and Primarily (Alydeed), as well as this year’s top grass filly Citronnade.

Good For Everyone

This family trickled down from the Clay Stud to major enterprises like Elmendorf and Spendthrift and Cara Rafaela, of course, is now in the hands of Darley.  Wherever it has landed – whether in a regional market like the good Ack Ack mare Skysweeper in Washington State, or in Europe like White Star Line and Northern Trick it has given back its share.

But in all honesty, this is a family from which we would rather have a filly than a colt.  There are no really major sires here, but some sires who have been better than an empty stall like Torsion, Muhtathir and On The Sly.  We certainly hope that Bernardini can turn this trend around; he’ll see the best possible mares, so our fingers are crossed.

The Pedigree of Let Her Fly

The major inbreeding in Let Her Fly’s pedigree is to “large heart” mare Pocahontas (1837) via King Tom x2/Stockwell x2/Auricula and to Guiccioli via Birdcatcher x6/Faugh-A-ballagh x2.  She also carries three lines of Martha Lynn via Voltigeur x2/Eulogy.

These old family lines take us back to the genesis of the American Thoroughbred.  When we see a mare inbred to Lexington and it actually shows on the page, we get a little chill.  Then, too, it’s worth noting that Let Her Fly’s fourth dam, Palmetto, is inbred to Henry Clay’s Yorkshire.

New Reines-de-Course

 We take this opportunity to add Magnolia to head the 4-M family and as a ‘bridge’ to Maggie B. B.  We also add Skedaddle for the same reason, along with, of course, Let Her Fly and her descendents Throttle Wide, Fast Line, White Star Line, Fairway Fun, Fairway Fable, Trick Chick, Day Line, Magazine, Rare Relish, and Mostly.  We have no doubt we will venture this way again before much longer to include Cara Rafaela.

Family 4-M