Pretty Jo

When champion Sky Beauty retired in 1996, thoughts of her contribution to the breed as a broodmare brought renewed interest to her outstanding female family, a family whose ascension to prominence provides a textbook example of how a good family can become a great one.  By Reine-de-Course standards, this is a “recent” family like Too Bald’s, rather than a vintage one like *La Troienne’s or Selene’s, but its excellence cannot be denied.

The family’s roots first took firm hold in 1948 with the foaling of the mare Pretty Jo, a daughter of champion sire Bull Lea and the mare Fib by King Tom-line Westy Hogan.  Bred by Isador Bieber of Bieber-Jacobs fame, Pretty Jo was only placed as a runner and it would be some time before her value as a foundation matron would be appreciated, but it was nonetheless by her birth that the story of Sky Beauty and other important members of her family like Dayjur, Gold Beauty and Caesar’s Wish had its beginning.

Pretty Jo foaled 10 offspring in all, but even so was something of a problem mare, being nine times barren or producing dead foals.  None of her foals distinguished themselves at the racetrack, but her first foal, Pretty Ways by Stymie; her fourth, Lipstick by Stymie and her last, Tunny B. by *Arctic Prince, all produced stakes horses.

Pretty Ways, a foal of 1953, was a non-winner who earned just $270 at the track.  She produced only one foal of note, a 1963 son of Promised Land named Understanding.  The horse won seven of 87 starts, earned over $200,000, and while his lone stake victory came in the Stuyvesant Handicap, he placed in several important races like the Jerome, Widener, Massachusetts and Seminole Handicaps.

Understanding made one notable contribution to the breed in the form of major winner Wishing Well, a Grade 2 earner of over $380,000.  Wishing Well in turn produced Sunday Silence, Horse of the Year in the U.S. in 1989 and a sire phenomenon in Japan.

Tunny B., the tenth foal of Pretty Jo, also produced one major offspring, this being the Group 1 Panamian performer El Alcazar.

Thus Pretty Jo’s future was left pretty much in the hands of the mare Lipstick, a 1961 daughter of Stymie.  No better a racemare than her full sister Pretty Ways, Lipstick was nevertheless most fortunate in that her daughter, Hail To Beauty, fell into the best possible hands.

Prior to the rise of Hail To Beauty’s branch of the family, however, Lipstick had already shown the potential for excellence existed in her genes.  Her daughter Primper, by Art Market, was dam of the ill-fated Caesar’s Wish, winner of the Mother Goose, Demoiselle and Black-Eyed Susan Stakes and an earner of $314,507.  Caesar’s Wish was beaten six lengths by nemesis Lakeville Miss in the Coaching Club American Oaks when bothered by a loose horse, and their eagerly anticipated rubber match was to be Saratoga’s Alabama Stakes.

It was not to be.  First Lakeville Miss was withdrawn due to an injury, and the worst was yet to come.  Caesar’s Wish bounded off to an early lead and she was still on the lead when a pulmonary artery ruptured.  She was dead before she fell to the ground.

Although Primper is dam and granddam of two more minor stakes placed horses, Caesar’s Wish was undoubtedly this branch of the family’s best chance to carry on and her death was a blow from which it never recovered.  Caesar’s Wish had quite a following in 1978 and trainer Dickie Small cited her contributions with this mournful epitaph, “Caesar’s Wish had just gone as far as she was meant to go, and she went there running.”

So Primper’s contributions were done, but even as her tribe faltered, half sister Hail To Beauty was about to begin a run which has yet to end.  Hail To Beauty’s first stroke of fortune occurred when Mrs. Georgia Hofmann purchased her in 1970 for $8,000.  Mrs. Hofmann liked the filly’s breeding and had long been a fan of racing along with her husband Philip, former chairman and CEO of Johnson and Johnson.

The Hofmanns purchased Merrybrook Farm near Ocala in 1972 and later renamed it Wycombe House Stud after a village in England which they loved.  The couple moved to the farm in 1974 and Hail to Beauty prospered.

First came Be A Rullah, winner of the Kingsland Handicap, then  the great matron Stick To Beauty, winner of the Busanda Stakes. For Mrs. Hofmann, Stick To Beauty produced Gold Beauty, a daughter of Mr. Prospector who was champion Sprinter of 1982. Gold Beauty was more than a superior runner to her owner, however.  Mrs. Hofmann had a true love and respect for Gold Beauty and was fond of recalling her sweet nature, particularly since as a yearling, Gold Beauty had been gentle enough not to hurt a small child who crawled into her stall.

In addition to Gold Beauty, Stick To Beauty also produced Majestic Venture, Green Knight, The Prime Minister, Hello Beauty, Miraloma and Storm Beauty, all stakes winners or stakes placed.  Storm Beauty is the most recent member of the family to distinguish herself, winning the 1998 Miss Preakness Stakes.

By 1984 the Hofmanns’ holdings had grown to 95 head and it was time for a dispersal. Although the breeder allowed Stick To Beauty to go through the sales ring, she sentimentally bought Gold Beauty back.

The foal Gold Beauty was carrying at the time was Maplejinsky, who was sold at the 1986 Keeneland July yearling sale for $750,000.  For new owner Sugar Maple Farm, Maplejinsky won the 1988 Monmouth Oaks and Alabama Stakes.  The latter victory was evening a family score so to speak, since Caesar’s Wish had literally died trying to win the same stake.

When Maplejinsky was retired due to an injury, she was bred to Blushing Groom and her first foal was Sky Beauty, who Mrs. Hofmann purchased for $355,000. In Hofmann’s colors, Sky Beauty added only glory to the family her owner had so lovingly developed.  Among her wins were the NYRA Filly Triple Crown, the Alabama Stakes, and the Hempstead Handicap.  In the latter, she carried 130 pounds to victory and ensured her claim to the Eclipse award as champion older mare in 1994.

Many racing observers believe that the 1994 title was one of three titles that Sky Beauty should have won.  At two, she lost the title by virtue of not competing in the Breeders’ Cup after an injury cut her season short and, at three, she lost out in balloting despite her Filly Triple Crown wins when she ran poorly in the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita.

Sky Beauty’s dam Maplejinsky was not Gold Beauty’s last important offspring.  She also produced Dayjur, Horse of the Year in England in 1990. During that same season, Dayjur would become well known to Americans as the horse who would have won the Breeders’ Cup Sprint but for an ill-timed shadow jump near the finish.

So Gold Beauty had foaled a major producer and a major stallion prospect.  She also left behind several other daughters: Elhasna, by Danzig, and a full sister to Dayjur; Gracious Beauty, a full sister to Maplejinsky; and Gold Legend, an unraced son of Seattle Slew.  To date, neither of these mares has distinguished herself, but Gold Legend has been a pleasant surprise.

Beginning his stud career at Jonabell Farm in Kentucky, Gold Legend sired  the outstanding multiple Grade 1 winner Heritage of Gold and Grade 1 placed Gold Nugget plus a handful of lesser stakes horses.  He now stands in Texas.

Gold Legend was Gold Beauty’s last foal.  After his birth, the mare experienced complications and died on April 1, 1990.  Few have left so large a contribution in so short a time.

While Gold Beauty’s daughters add promise to the family, that is not the end of the story for so, too, do other of her sisters.  There are daughters of Alydar (Lydara and Raise a Beauty, the latter a stakes producer); Criminal Type (Misconduct, dam of Kentucky Derby third Impeachment); and Deputy Minister (stakes winner Miraloma) as well as stakes placed Felix The Cat, a 1994 colt by Storm Cat.  This family can only grow.

To understand the evolution of this family from ordinary to superb, we start with Pretty Jo.  With nine Pocahontas strains through various crosses of her Stockwell, King Tom and Rataplan, Pretty Jo had a good foundation.  But add to this her 4 x 4 x 5 cross of Voter and his half sister Maid of Erin, her balanced crosses of St. Simon, Galopin, and Hermit, and possibilities begin to open up.

When Pretty Jo was bred to Stymie, he added the following:  two Man o’ War daughters, a balanced cross of Commando, and a double of Broomstick.  The result was Lipstick, whose six-cross pedigree then showed four Commando crosses, three of St. Simon and independent (one parent only) crosses of Man o’ War, Broomstick and Voter/Maid Of Erin.

Lipstick in turn was bred to Hail To Reason who added two more Man o’ War crosses, a cross of Admiral Drake and his half brother Sir Gallahad III to the Bull Dog cross already extant from Bull Lea (and more Carbine/Musket via Plucky Liege as well as a Carbine cross from Catnip, second dam of Nearco), two Pharos crosses and two of Swynford.

This mating resulted in Hail To Beauty whose six generation pedigree had four Man o’ War crosses and the Admiral Drake/Sir Gallahad/Bull Dog as well as the independent Swynford and Voter crosses.

On the surface, the next mating – to Illustrious, a son of Round Table – seemed a move toward outcrossing.  However, Round Table carried five St. Simon crosses as well as two of St. Simon’s full sister Angelica.  Illustrious was out of a Nasrullah mare, and *Nasrullah of course is a three quarter brother to Royal Charger whose blood was already in the pedigree via Hail To Reason.  But it is the St. Simon crosses which really gel since this is one of the lines to which the original mare – Pretty Jo – started out with.  In other words, breeding to Illustrious went back and picked up an original strength which had been augmented in the interim breeding.

The result of this mating, Stick To Beauty, had a pedigree which did not appear to be all that inbred, showing only 3 x 4 *Nasrullah/Royal Charger, 5 x 6 x 6 Pharos, four crosses of full or half siblings Sir Gallahad III, Admiral Drake and Bull Dog and her dam’s own Man o’ War inbreeding.  However, as we have seen, inbreeding had been building up for generations and in Stick To Beauty we have an exceptionally fertile pedigree into which any number of excellent lines can be grafted.

It was into this wealth of genes that none other than Mr. Prospector was introduced in 1978.  The result was champion Gold Beauty.  Mr. Prospector did not need to add much, but he did augment the Man o’ War, Bull Dog, Sir Gallahad III, Commando, Pharos and Whisk Broom II.  Yet Gold Beauty’s own four generation pedigree showed only a 4 x 4 cross of *Nasrullah!  She is proof positive that no horse’s ancestry can be judged by a simple look…..only an in depth study will tell the tale. From that point on, it was largely what was popular.  Gold Beauty went to the great sire Nijinsky II, picked up a popular son/daughter Native Dancer cross (which doubles Selene via Sickle) then added still more Selene through Hyperion and Pharamond II as well as adding another Bull Dog cross to all that had built up in the past.

When Maplejinsky was subsequently bred to Blushing Groom, more Selene was added via Pharamond II and Hyperion for a total of six crosses in Sky Beauty, thus adding still another inbreeding strain to all that had gone before.

The purpose of all the above is to contrast Pretty Jo’s two daughters.  We see how Lipstick fared using a build-up over generations of the most powerful lines, but what of Pretty Ways?  Well, while Lipstick was being sent to horses like Hail To Reason, Pretty Ways was being bred to horses like Promised Land, Dinamode and Kling Kling.  It may have been luck that Hail To Beauty fell into the right hands, but we doubt many top breeders were in the market for Kling Kling mares.

One intriguing family twist occurred when Maplejinsky was sold to Japan at age 11.  There, in 1996 she was bred to Sunday Silence, foaling a filly named Silence Beauty (Jpn), who was sold as a yearling at Keeneland July 1998 for $1 milliion.  There is no record of her racing, but she may very well do something very important down the road for the family.

Silence Beauty, you see, is the only major mare from this family to be inbred to Pretty Jo – in her case via a 4 x 5 cross of full sisters Pretty Way and Lipstick.  For good measure, she is also inbred to Almahmoud (Cosmah/Natalma).  We do not know why she didn’t run, but she has unlimited broodmare potential.

Sky Beauty, on the other hand, has yet to produce a foal that lives up to her mother in quality, but she has been bred strictly commercially – Danzig, Storm Cat, Deputy Minister, with no thought of exploring her Boola Brook or Our Lassie lines.  We hope to return to this family one day, but for the time being new Reines-de-Course are Pretty Jo, Lipstick, Stick To Beauty and Gold Beauty.

Family 1-G