Princess Palatine

During the course of the Reine-de-Course series, we visited the family of the great foundation mare Frizette on several occasions:  Myrtlewood; Charming Alibi and Frizeur/Banshee. In this 1996 story, we discuss the exploits of the Princess Palatine branch, a versatile group responsible for classic horses, Broodmares of the Year and top sprinters.

Surprisingly for all her international influence, Frizette was an all-American girl.  Bred by Harry Payne Whitney from his home stallion Hamburg out of the St. Simon mare Ondulee, Frizette was bred to be a good one.  Her third dam, Shotover, was a rare female Epsom Derby winner.

In 1908, Whitney sold Frizette to his friend Herman Duryea, and for him she bred Lespedeza and Durzetta, full sisters by Durbar.  Lespedeza was not so good a runner as her sister, but she is responsible in tail-female for several good French stakes performers and in America for Matriarch Stakes and Santa Barbara Handicap winner Fact Finder.  Durzetta won the Prix de la Foret and the Prix Morny and is responsible for a smattering of good French horses including French One Thousand Guineas winner Djelfa.

Frizette’s third foal was not bred by Duryea but by a Mr. Frank O’Neill, a former jockey, who in turn sold her to L. Waterbury of Shandon Stud in Kentucky.  Waterbury imported her to the U. S. as a yearling, and from his acres Princess Palatine’s daughters spread out across the country and some returned to Europe to make their reputations.

Today it is the Valkyr branch which has prospered most in the U. S., largely due to some of its members having fallen into the excellent hands of Howard B. Keck and William Farish III.  At various times, members of their families have been sold at places like Keeneland.  Those who purchased them truly acquired part of a legend.

Princess Palatine is conceivably the best-bred of Frizette’s foals.  At the very least, her sire was an impeccable fellow.  By St. Simon’s son Persimmon, Prince Palatine was bred by that wizard of bloodlines Col. Hall Walker.  Inexplicably, Prince Palatine was the good one who got away from the Col.  He was sold for a mere 2,000 pounds to a Mr. Pilkington for whom he became a renowned stayer, winning the St. Leger and two Ascot Gold Cups as well as the Doncaster and Coronation Cups.

Atypically for a good stayer, Prince Palatine had also won stakes at two, among them the Imperial Produce Plate.  Pilkington later sold Prince Palatine for a stallion to Jack Joel (breeder of Our Lassie among others).  Prince Palatine apparently had some fertility problems and his get were not setting the world on fire.  He was sold several times more, finally ending up in Kentucky at the Xalapa Farm of Ed F. Simms, who had paid $150,000 for this giant of the turf.  Sadly, the horse died a few years later in a barn fire.

Prince Palatine’s main contribution to pedigrees would come via Belgian champion Prince Rose, but while in this country, he did sire a mare named Blue Glass who went on to foal Unbreakable, sire of Polynesian, he sire of Native Dancer.  So despite being chiefly known as the agent through which the Persimmon branch of St. Simon prospered in the U. S., he is also partly responsible for the genes which created every Mr. Prospector (and other Native Dancer-line relative) racing today.

Princess Palatine’s daughter Valkyr was a daughter of the legendary Man o’ War who was a good enough racehorse to run second in the Alabama S. and third in the Coaching Club American Oaks.  As a broodmare, she produced for owner/breeder William Woodward the great runner and producer Vagrancy, a daughter of Sir Gallahad III.

As fine a champion as the turf has ever seen, Vagrancy was the best of her age and sex at both three and four.  Just a few of her major wins were the Coaching Club American Oaks, Beldame and Ladies Handicaps, Delaware Oaks, Alabama and Gazelle Stakes.

Described as large and coarse, rather than feminine, there were some doubters when she went to stud.  Vagrancy made fools of them all, foaling St. Leger winner Black Tarquin as her first born.

In 1951, William Woodward died; one of the greatest horses he ever bred, Nashua, was then a yearling.  His son William Jr. continued racing the Belair horses but in 1955, tragedy struck.  Young Woodward’s wife mistook him for a burglar and shot him to death.  All the Belair horses were then dispersed.

A syndicate headed by Miss Mildred Woolwine submitted a successful sealed bid of $514,000 for 23 Belair mares and 16 weanlings.  The very next month, she resold the lot for $924,100.

Although Segula, dam of Nashua, was the sales topper at $126,000 (she went to Stravos Niarchos), the fourth highest priced mare was a stakes winning (Diana Handicap and Test S.) daughter of Vagrancy named Vulcania.  By Futurity winner Some Chance (by Chance Play by Fair Play), Vulcania was purchased by A. B. “Bull” Hancock on behalf of Howard B. Keck.

Vulcania was in foal to Kentucky Derby winner Dark Star and the following spring she produced a filly named Legato, who won only $17,000 at the racetrack but who is the ancestress of Horse of the Year Ferdinand, San Juan Capistrano Handicap winners Fiddle Isle and Prince True and Hollywood Oaks winner Hidden Light among others.

Another of Vagrancy’s daughters, the winning *Nasrullah mare Natasha was purchased by Greentree Stud and she and her future Broodmare of the Year daughter Natashka were sold privately to California oil company magnate George Getty III.  As a runner, Natashka won the Alabama Stakes and was voted champion three year old filly of 1966.  In annexing the Alabama, she became the fourth member of Princess Palatine’s family to win that major race, joining Vagrancy, Vienna (out of Valse, a sister to Vagancy) and Hypnotic, a half sister to Vagrancy by Hypnotist II (a son of Hyperion).

After Getty’s death, his horses were dispersed and Natashka was purchased by Harry Mangurian at the 1973 Keeneland mixed sale for $185,000.  Her weanling filly, who raced as Ivory Wand (Test S.), sold for even more at $202,000.

Natashka went on to produce five stakes winners in all before her death in June of 1981.  In addition to Ivory Wand (now a stakes producer), she foaled Ashland winner Truly Bound, English and Irish stakes winners Gergorian, Blood Royal and Arkadina (second in the Irish Oaks and a classic producer).

Her half sister, Ribasha, is also the second dam of a horse Americans should be familiar with.  Though he didn’t do well, Ezzoud ran in two Breeders’ Cups.  A tempermental type, Ezzoud fared better in Europe where he became a champion.

There seems to be something of an uphill battle for all sires from this family, as it shows a decided female sex bias.  Among those exported to Japan after disappointing are Judger and Ferdinand.  Bicker and Bailjumper had fewer opportunities and were useful at best.  Champion Baldric II sired Irish Derby winner Irish Ball in his first crop, but both he and his classic son also were sent to Japan.

Thus when looking at horses from this family, one should keep in mind that the females are the heavyweights, though how horses like Ferdinand might do as broodmare sires is open to speculation.  He had all the ingredients with such good broodmare blood as Nijinsky II, Dark Star and Double Jay.  One would think his daughters might be well worth pursuing.

Princess Palatine’s pedigree has much in common with former excellent Reines-de-Course.  She is sex-balanced inbred to the immortal St. Simon through Persimmon and Ondulee in a 3 x 3 pattern.  A further cross of Galopin, St. Simon’s sire, also appears via the female Atalanta, so Galopin is also sex-balanced.

The great sire-producing broodmare and “large heart gene” ancestress Pocahontas appears four times, through doubles of her sons King Tom and Stockwell.  There are also multiple crosses of Lord Clifden, Hampton (sire only), Newminster and supported via her dam Lexington and Vandal.

We were also interested to see just what Man o’ War did for Princess Palatine, since this mating a) is responsible for the best branch of the family, Valkyr and b) because so much has been written about the poor quality of mares bred to Man o’ War.

We have not done a study on all the mares bred to Man o’ War, but if Princess Palatine is any indication, someone has been whistling in the wind all these years.  Not only was she bred on patrician lines, being by a classic winner out of a great producer, but she fit Man o’ War like a glove.

Adding another cross of St. Simon (a daughter cross through Roquebrune, dam of Rock Sand, Man o’ War’s broodmare sire) is only the beginning.  There is another male cross of Galopin through Galliard, two more Pocahontas crosses through King Tom and Stockwell, and perhaps best of all, Man o’ War’s male-line great-grandsire, Spendthrift, is crossed 4 x 5 to his full sister Fellowcraft.  Fellowcraft appears as the broodmare sire of Hamburg, he the broodmare sire of Princess Palatine.

There is other inbreeding – to Bend Or, Hermit, Wenlock and Hampton (the latter three sex-balanced crosses), but the exciting things about this breeding are the St. Simon, the Pocahontas and the full sibling inbreeding.  No wonder Valkyr is a great producing branch!

What is sad is that Princess Palatine was bred only once to Man o’ War.  Had she continued to be mated with him, there is no telling how rich her legacy might have been.  However, as the great storyteller John Taintor Foote, author of “The Look of Eagles” tells us, “If a man breeds one genius to a generation, it is enough.”  He was speaking of horses.  Valkyr was Princess Palatine’s genius and she is indeed enough.

Frizette herself was named as a Reine-de-Course when this story was originally published in 1996.  So Frizette as well as Princess Palatine, Valkyr, Vagrancy, Natasha, Natashka and Vicaress all were named at that time.  The Banshee and Frizeur branches were covered in a later story.  Frizette’s gifts were many.

Family 13-C