The Danzig Thing
One of the main reasons that we finally decided to tackle this old European family is that people keep driving us crazy by insisting that Danzig was not very well bred. Now Danzig was many things, including not very sound. But ill-bred is not one of them. That he was prepotent and will live on for a very long time via Danehill alone is certain. It is time to put this ‘of questionable family’ myth to rest.
Quick Change descended from Family No. 7, the Blacklegs Royal Mare, via the 7-a (Vicissitude) branch. Her seventh dam, Mowerina, was the founder of the modern branch. An 1843 daughter of Touchstone, Mowerina was born the year her full brother, Cotherstone, won the 2000 Guineas and Derby.
Old Orange Girl was Mowerina’s 1860 daughter by Kingston and she in turn was the dam of Twine the Plaiden (by Derby and St. Leger winner Blair Athol), winner of the Park Hill Stakes (the “fillies’ St. Leger”). It is via Twine The Plaiden’s daughter Bonnie Snood by Macheath that we come down to Quick Change which, having lay dormant for a couple of generations as classic families sometimes do, enjoyed an enormous rebirth when her granddaughter, Steady Aim, won the 1946 Epsom Oaks. She would later be immortalized as the third dam of Danzig.
Now this may not be a family that is well-known to Americans. But it is as good as they come, and as we shall see, there are a couple of other relatives that bear special mention along with those mares which comprise the direct tail-female line of Danzig.
Filling In The Background
Quick Change was bred in England and did not win, but became a stakes producer with the advent of her son Chrysler II (by French Derby winner and leading sire *Teddy) and then foaled the superb producer La Foux (by French 2000 Guineas winner =Vatout), dam of classic winner Mistral (FR). (=Vatout, by the way, is the paternal great-grandsire of Belmont Stakes winner and excellent sire *Gallant Man.)
Her daughter Quick Arrow (by the great stayer Casterari) was bred in France by Monsieur Leon Volterra. Casterari was a son of Fiterari who won three of France’s most important stakes – the 2000 Guineas, the Grand Prix de Paris and the Prix Royal Oak. He in turn was a son of Sardanapale (to which Roberto is inbred).
All this stamina did Quick Arrow little good at the races. Volterra sent her to England in 1940, where she won a couple of races at four, but failed to really distinguish herself and was subsequently sold to Sir Alfred Butt for 700 guineas. Bred to 1928 Derby winner Felstead, she became his second classic winner following Rockfel.
The Carbine Factor
We’re sure quite a few of you out there saw the wonderful movie “Phar Lap”, probably one of the two best movies about racing ever made (the other is “Kentucky”). In “Phar Lap”, trainer Harry Telford explains his purchase of the ungainly yearling: “He’s got Carbine top and bottom.” Actually, he did not. Instead, he had a double of Carbine’s sire, Musket.
However, what Phar Lap lacked in Carbine inbreeding, Danzig more than makes up for. Let us follow how this occurred:
Oaks winner Steady Aim was by Felstead, who was tail-male to Carbine and inbred to him. The first two crosses were in place via Spearmint and the mare Combine. When Steady Aim was bred to Petition to get Petitioner, Danzig’s second dam, a third cross was added via Queen Carbine, the third dam of Petition.
Petitioner in turn was bred to Admiral’s Voyage to get Danzig’s dam, Pas De Nom. Admiral’s Voyage had two crosses of Spearmint, a son of Carbine. Total count: five lines of Carbine.
Petitioner now visited Northern Dancer, who also had two Spearmint lines. Total amount of Carbine inbreeding in Danzig: Seven crosses: Spearmint x5/Combine/Queen Carbine. Now that we have that settled, let’s answer the question some of you may well have, and that is, “Just how great was Carbine?”.
Carbine’s Indelible Imprint On The Breed
Well, for starters, he was good enough to win 33 of 43 starts and finish out of the money only once. We will not list all the stakes he won here, but suffice to say that in addition to his Melbourne Cup, he won almost 30 stakes, including two editions of the Sydney Cup and three of the AJC Plate.
As a sire, though standing in the shadow of the incomparable St. Simon, he begat Derby winner Spion Kop, which sired Derby winner Felstead. Felstead got King Edward VII Stakes winner Field Trial and Pago Pago’s broodmare sire Abbots Fell, along with the grand filly Rockfel, winner of the One Thousand Guineas.
Perhaps more important, however, was that Carbine sired Spearmint, sire of the breed-altering Plucky Liege (dam of *Bull Dog, *Sir Gallahad III, Bois Roussel and Admiral Drake and tail-female line of Fappiano and Quiet American), Catnip (second dam of Nearco) and Bathing Girl (third dam of War Admiral). With daughters like that, who needed a son?
Yet Spearmint did get a decent sire in Chicle, who in turn got a good son in Whichone. But how about Chicle’s legacy in daughters? Consider these names: Blessings, Chicleight, Delicacy, Goose Egg, Mother Goose and Rosebloom. In order, those are the tail-female lines of Two Bob (Chris Evert, Chief’s Crown, Tim Tam and Best Turn); Ruddy Light (Alydar, Codex, Rich Cream, Sugar Plum Time and Grand Slam); Delicacy (Smarten, Quadratic, Smart Angle, Special Team, and Greek Game); Goose Egg was the dam of Derby winner and excellent sire Shut Out, sire of horses like Blackball, dam of The Axe II; Mother Goose is the tail-female line of none other than Northern Dancer and Halo, not to mention Danehill and Rosebloom gave us Be My Guest, Jaipur and Personal Hope. It is difficult, if not impossible to overstate the importance of Carbine to either Danzig or the breed as a whole. That he is not a Chef-de-Race exposes yet another hole in that system.
And A Personality To Match
Carbine was, then, a truly great racehorse and a very fine sire. Danzig alone will keep him alive for many years to come, but all the Nearco inbreds out there are doing their share as well. Yet Carbine was more than an historical footnote, or an inbreeding factor. Indeed, he was a world-class character.
For starters, he abhorred getting his ears wet and once his lad had to take him to post for nothing less than the Melbourne Cup under cover of an umbrella. He also appeared to know when he had lost a race, becoming glum and sad, or sometimes nasty. Known as “Old Jack” about the barn, he was as much a national hero as Phar Lap would later be. Listen to Joe H. Palmer’s vivid description of his 1890 Melbourne Cup victory from Names In Pedigrees:
“In the Melbourne Cup of November 4, 1890, over the course of the Victoria Racing Club, Carbine raced to a victory which was, as mortal things go, immortal. Under the heaviest weight a winner had ever carried, through the biggest field which had ever started for the race, came Carbine in the fastest time the race had ever been run. Already a turf idol, Carbine threw the spectators into a riot of excitement and jubilation.”
A riot of jubilation – this from a horse closely inbred (3 x 4) to none other than foundation mare Brown Bess (family 3) and tail-female to the immortal Eulogy. He had won at three miles and sometimes even ran twice in one day. This was a real man’s man of a horse.
Other Major Winners
Quick Change’s family is much more than just Danzig and his Carbine inbreeding, however. There are three other major horses who deserve more than a mere footnote to this family story.
Mistral is not likely to ever be a household name in the U. S., but he was a remarkable runner. Among the best of his crop (French foals of 1942), he won the Prix Marot and the Prix de Reims at two and ran second in the Prix Morny, third in the Poule des Foals and fourth in the Grand Criterium.
At three, he was much improved. He won the Prim Omnium II, and then took the Prix Greffulhe, defeating Chanteur, who later won the Coronation Cup. Mistral then won the Poule d’Essai des Poulains from his eventual French Derby conqueror, Coaraze (broodmare sire of Naskra’s sire Nasram). Two weeks later, Mistral defeated Chanteur again along with his main rival, Basileus, before losing the French Derby when appearing not to stay.
Mistral went to stud in France and was a moderately successful sire, though he failed to get a son to carry on. Among his best get were Prix Jean Prat runnerup *Mistralator; Prix De Fontainebleau winner =Le Vent, Poule D’Essai Des Pouliches- French One Thousand Guineas winner =Hurnli and Grand Prix de Compiegne winner =Ventose. A recent printout on him was very vague and incomplete, but those are the highlights.
Today, one sadly does not find Mistral in many pedigrees, but he did get the mare La Bora, who in the E. P. Taylor organization was the second dam of Queens Plate winner Canebora. He is also sire of the mare Savigny, second dam of Sirlad (IRE) who won the Italian Derby and ran second to Affirmed in the 1979 Hollywood Gold Cup.
Then there is the very current sire Kalu, who stands in New York state and who is not only tail-female to Quick Change but has Danzig as his paternal grandsire. Thus, this Hawthorne Derby winner is inbred to Quick Change’s daughters Quick Arrow and La Foux on a 6 x 6 cross. Could be a sleeper!
Topyo was probably not a better racehorse than Mistral, but he won the biggest prize in Europe when he took the 1967 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe as a clear outsider. Crowned champion three-year-old due in large part to that feat, Topyo also won the Prix La Fleche, and the Prix La Force.
The son of Fine Top, whose second dam, La Fougueuse , was a full sister to Mistral, had been something of a disappointment early in his career, though he had won the Prix de la Cote Normande. He nearly went down in his next start, the Prix de Chantilly, which made his autumn form difficult for the public to judge.
A recent printout, while quite sketchy, suggests that Topyo ended up in Japan. There he sired the Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup winner =Diamante (JPN) and the Spring Handicap winner =C B Queen (JPN) who also ran third in the Japanese Oaks. The printout we got tells us that Topyo had only 38 foals, so he might have experienced a fertility problem.
=CB Queen does seem to have foaled a stakes winner by Tosho Boy named Mr. C B, who subsequently went to stud and sired a stake horse or two. Whether or not any of the blood remains in Japan or has found its way into the international community is unknown at this time.
Gentlemen (ARG) is well-known to American racegoers. This perfectly beautiful creature was a wonderful racehorse, winning 13 of 24 starts and $3.6 million. A champion in his native Argentina, he was by the American bred Robin des Bois (Nureyev-Rare Mint by Key to the Mint) and was out of the Loose Cannon (Nijinsky II) mare Elegant Glance who was unraced.
Gentlemen journeyed to America at four and here at that age, five and six was a top-notch runner. He won the G2 Citation and San Antonio Handicaps, and the G1 Pacific Classic, Hollywood Gold Cup and Pimlico Special. He also won or placed in eight other graded stakes.
The leggy chestnut started out at Walmac Farm in Kentucky. He did not “take off” immediately as a stallion must in these commercial times, and appeared to be unable to transmit his remarkable ability and beauty, perhaps due to his intense inbreeding to Graustark (4 x 4). Now with five crops to race, he has been banished to California where he is unlikely to find better mares and his future is uncertain. Perhaps it would be a kindness to him to return him to his native Argentina and see if he fares better there.
It is sad that he has done so poorly, for he and Danzig seemed such a natural match, sharing the half sisters Pas De Nom and Any Port. We wish that we could be more optimistic about Gentlemen’s future, but as of this writing, things do not look good.
The Danzig Contribution
In general, when a stallion goes to stud at Claiborne Farm, he has achieved a good deal of success at the races. However, the occasional risk (Drone comes to mind) has been taken. Danzig was another such risk.
An unbeaten son of Northern Dancer, with an Epsom Oaks victress as his third dam, the smallish bay had shown remarkable talent in his mere three starts before suffering a career-ending injury. Trainer Woody Stephens was one of his staunchest advocates, saying from the outset that he would be a great – not good – sire.Time proved Stephens a prophet. At the time of his death in January of 2006, Danzig led all North American-based sires in number of stakes winners and percentage of stakes winners from foals. He has sired over 190 stakes winners while never covering over 75 mares in a single season. His great son Danehill has virtually dozens of sons at stud and, keeping in mind he was used as a dual hemisphere sire throughout his career, he sired over 330 stakes winners.
A Pennsylvania Bred
Danzig’s story actually began in the unlikely locale of Pennsylvania, where he was bred by William S. Farish and Marshall Jenney at Derry Meeting Farm. Jenney and Farish had purchased his dam, Pas de Nom, in 1971 from Frank Merrill for only $38,000. A stakes winner in Canada (the minor Inferno Stakes), Pas de Nom proved herself a very quick filly capable of handling stakes horses in his country. For her new owners, she won $121,741 including wins in the Virginia Belle and Jasmine Stakes, defeating champion Chou Croute in the latter.
Despite the European flavor of her female family, Pas de Nom seemed to take after the speedier influences in her pedigree and was at her best at sprint distances. Upon reflection, part-owner Jenney opined that Pas de Nom’s inability to stretch out might well have been caused by a collapsed jugular vein, a condition which very nearly cost her her life.
In 1975, Pas de Nom visited the court of Northern Dancer and the next year produced a filly named Dame Margot. Although she never made it to the races, Danzig’s older full sister later produced $414,176 stakes winner Lord Of The Night. The following spring when Dame Margot was a precocious yearling, Pas de Nom foaled her masterpiece, Danzig.
Consigned to the Saratoga sales as a yearling in 1978, Pas de Nom’s son brought a bid of $310,000 from Henryk de Kwiatkowski, fifth highest price for a colt at the sale. The yearling’s new owner, a Polish national, named him Danzig for one of his homeland’s best known cities.
At two, Danzig was turned over to Hall of Fame trainer Woody Stephens for training and made his debut in a 5 ½ furlong maiden event at Belmont Park, June 25, 1979. It was a first start to cherish.
Danzig set blazing fractions of :22 1/5 and :45 1/5 and completed the maiden contest in 1:03 3/5, only three ticks off the track record with a winning margin of 8 ½ lengths. However, trainer Stephens knew that Danzig was running with a bone chip, a chip he had had since first arriving for his early lessons at the Aiken, South Carolina, training center.
No sooner had the colt burst into the headlines as the best thing to come along since Seattle Slew than it was announced that the chip had worked its mischief in the race and that Danzig would require surgery. At the time, arthroscopic surgery was not in vogue and when Danzig next raced, it would be with screws inserted into his knee.
Danzig did not run again until May 14 of his three-year-old year. Fans sent him off as the favorite and the colt did not disappoint, showing he had lost none of his early brilliance with a 7 ½ length win in 1:09 2/5, just 4/5 off Aqueduct’s track standard. As the fans cheered, Stephens worried. During training hours, Danzig’s knee still troubled him.
Nonetheless, Danzig ran again only 17 days later. It would prove to be his final start and in light of what would later be revealed, it must be regarded as one of the most courageous performances any horse ever gave. This time the distance was seven furlongs and Danzig won by 5 ¾ lengths in an excellent 1:22.
Stephens next entered Danzig in a 1 1/16 mi. allowance race at Monmouth so that he could better assess his capacity to go a distance of ground. But Danzig never made it to the starting gate at Monmouth.
The trainer had some x-rays taken of Danzig’s sore knee and had them sent to Dr. Robert Copelan in Paris, Ky. Copelan reviewed the films and called Woody. “If you run this colt again,” Copelan warned, “you could destroy him.” De Kwiatkowski was contacted and made the final decision to retire the classy colt rather than risk further injury.
An Investment In Excellence
Though one of Bull Hancock’s rules for standing a stallion was that “he be sound”, Seth Hancock decided to take a gamble on Danzig. Stephens was the main reason. Claiborne had an excellent working relationship with the trainer (who would later win the Derby for them with Swale) and as the Hall of Famer said of Danzig, “He never had another thing wrong with him other than that knee, even though he was running on only three legs.”
He would have a further challenge at stud. The little stallion became blind in one eye in 1984. Two years later, he developed an abrasion on the good eye and his eyelid was sewn shut, rendering him totally sightless. A dozen bad scenarios come to mind, but Danzig overcame them all, as he had done with his knee troubles and the good eye was saved.
For all the hurdles he overcame, Danzig left an enormous legacy. From his first crop came champion Chief’s Crown, as well as Hollywood Futurity winner Stephen’s Odyssey. Then along came the filly Contredance to win the Grade 1 Arlington-Washington Lassie Stakes.
Danzig became a classic sire for the first time when Danzig Connection, fittingly owned by Henryk de Kwiatkowski and trained by Woody Stephens, won the 1986 Belmont to become the trainer’s fifth consecutive Belmont winner, a record this writer believes will never be broken. Though Danzig Connection did not become a great stallion like some of Danzig’s sons, he was nonetheless a harbinger of things to come.
In subsequent crops, Danzig got his hallmark son Danehill; European Horse of the Year Dayjur; two-time Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Lure; Canadian Horse of the Year, U. S. champion and Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Dance Smartly; Preakness winner Pine Bluff; and other such good runners as War Chant, Boundary, Green Desert, Belong to Me and Brahms. This year, his son Astronomer Royal won the Poule D’Essai Des Poulains (French Two Thousand Guineas) and another son, Hard Spun, very nearly stole the Kentucky Derby in wire-to-wire fashion. They can still add to Danzig’s glory and have already earned a place at stud.
The truth is that the final chapter to Danzig’s story may not be written in our lifetime. His legacy is that overwhelming. Unfortunately, along with his superior talent often comes a questionable set of knees. They occur often enough to be a hallmark of his legacy as well, sad to say.
Horsemen have learned to live with the problem. When a stallion gets almost 20% stakes winner, they tend to do that.
The Pedigree of Quick Change
Our story would not be complete without an overview of Quick Change’s own pedigree. The daughter of Hurry on was inbred top and bottom to her own taproot, Mowerina. This daughter of Touchstone appears as the dam of West Australian, the tail-male line of her sire, Hurry On and as her own seventh dam.
In addition, she carries nine lines of large-heart mare Pocahontas (1837) via Stockwell x4/King Tom x3/Rataplan/Araucaria. Her dam is inbred to St. Simon x2 and his full sister Angelica. The St. Simon crosses are both via daughters.
Quick Change then has a double of Epsom Derby winner Sainfoin expressed via daughter Tout Suite to son Rock Sand; four Hermit (another Derby winner) crosses – all via daughters; two Macaroni (Epsom Derby and 2000 Guineas) crosses via son Macgregor and daughter Sophia. Her dam is inbred to Macaroni’s favorite mate, Bend Or (yet another Derby winner) via son Ormonde and son Orion. Vedette, paternal grandsire of St. Simon and a 2000 Guineas winner, appears four times – via the St. Simon x2/Angelica and a Speculum cross in Hurry On.
So by now, everyone who has stayed with us this long should be well aware that Danzig is quite well bred. And so is this marvelous ancestress of his!
New Reines-de-Course from this family will be Quick Change, of course, plus =La Foux, =Lilya, =Sweet and Lovely, =Steady Aim, and *Petitioner. We may return to Pas de Nom in the future, but for now even though she is Danzig’s dam, she does not have the kind of produce under her to suggest that she is going to have a daughter to carry on.
Danzig’s full sister, Dame Margot, was exported to England and the majority of her family has been scattered, landing in Japan for the most part and not earning any black type while there. Some of this blood has also found its way to Australia where it likewise has done next to nothing. The most likely mare under Pas de Nom at present seems to be the stakes placed Tabheej (IRE) by the Woodman sire Mujtahid. She is a full sister to G3 winner (G2 placed) =Mubhij (IRE) and has had foals by Dixieland Band (one winner, one placed) and an unplaced filly by the Danzig sire Belong to Me. Her last two foals were a 2005 colt by the Storm Cat horse Aljabr and a 2006 colt by Dixie Union. One can hope.