Segula

 “He was all stud, even as a two-year-old.  He gave me a harder time than any horse I ever rode.  But no matter how playful and ornery he got, you couldn’t help loving the big jerk.”….jockey Eddie Arcaro of Nashua.

 Forever Nashua

Almost without exception, every Reine-de-Course has one descendent which stands out above all the others.  With Mumtaz Mahal, it was *Nasrullah, with Teresina, it was *Alibhai, with *Papila it was Crimson Satan and with *Knight’s Daughter it was Round Table.

Segula has plenty to recommend her in the way of class and she is proof that the Belair Stud philosophy of breeding for stoutness laid a great foundation for the speed that was to come in successive generations.  Further, should anyone doubt that Nashua, or “Mickey” as he was fondly known at Spendthrift Farm, made a notable contribution to Thoroughbred breeding, we need mention just two names:  Roberto and Mr. Prospector.  Both were, of course, out of Nashua daughters and without his soundness and stoutness neither would have become the great sires they eventually did.  That they oftentimes combine well in pedigrees (Hollywood Wildcat, Hard Rock Ten) to double Nashua makes his great gifts of substance and bone all the more notable.

Named for a Warrior Goddess

Segula’s story begins with the importation of her dam, *Sekhmet, a foal of 1929 bred in France by Baron Edouard de Rothschild and imported by Belair Stud’s William Woodward, Sr. as a yearling.  She was sired by the great French classic winner and professional (stout) Chef-de-Race Sardanapale whose influence when doubled in Roberto would later become the stuff of legends.  As a racehorse, Sardanapale wrote his own legends, winning the French Derby and oftentimes battling a rival who would become another professional Chef-de-Race, La Farina.

*Sekhmet was named for the warrior goddess of Upper Egypt and sometimes depicted as a lioness whose breath, it was written, created the vast desert of northern Africa.  Associated with the sun god Ra and sometimes referred to as his daughter, Sekhmet bears the solar disc as part of her glyph.  Her counterpart in Lower Egypt is the better-known Bast or Bastet, who is nearly always depicted as a cat.

Although she did not win a single race, *Sekhmet the racehorse became an inherently important part of both Belair Stud and the stud of Stavros Niarchos.  (From the latter would come the mare Stavroula, Nashua’s full sister whose name means “cross” in Greek.)

The pair’s common dam, Segula, is named for one of the Aleutian Islands off the coast of Alaska.  Segula consists of a stratovolcano, the most common conical type, thought to date to the Holocene epoch (about 8000 BC).  The word Holocene is from the Greek meaning ‘whole’.  Thus, the background of Segula was one of ancient, classic civilizations and timeless structures, which certainly suits the mother of a legend like Nashua.

The Belair Way

In The Great Breeders and Their Methods, Abram Hewitt tells us that William Woodward, Sr. was more or less the second coming of August Belmont II.  However, not only did those two men have much in common, there was the added factor of Woodward’s relationship with Claiborne Farm.

And while Belmont and Woodward in turn liked classic blood, the Hancocks tended to mix it up a little, though until the era of Mr. Prospector et. al. there was a strong leaning toward St. Simon blood.  Still, by any standard *Nasrullah was a speed horse and when he arrived at Claiborne Farm, that is where the Woodward horses were boarded and where Nashua and his dam were born.

In order to obtain Segula, Woodward bred his import *Sekhmet to his 1939 Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes winner Johnstown, who was standing at Claiborne.  A son of Jamestown, Johnstown was as stoutly bred as *Sekhmet, since he was tail-male to Dark Ronald.  Further, his dam was bred on the same Sir *Gallahad III-Flambette cross as Belair’s 1935 Triple Crown winner Omaha, a son of Belair’s first Triple Crown winner Gallant Fox, and the only son of a Triple Crown winner to repeat his sire’s accomplishment.

Johnstown had more in common with Omaha than his dam, however.  The pair shared a *Sir Gallahad III/Flambette cross all right but also an Ajax double coupled with Chelandry, St. Simon, Bay Ronald and Bend Or crosses, so the pair were quite closely related.

Taking in the Bay Breezes

Once the Woodward horses were weaned, they left the Bluegrass for their owner’s physical entity, Belair Stud in Maryland.  The elder Woodward claimed that taking in the air of the Chesapeake Bay made for good-tempered animals and given how many good horses he bred, who is to argue with his thinking?

But Woodward did not just breed good horses, he also joined with Hancock and other breeders to import select stock like *Sir Gallahad III.  Naturally, he also used *Nasrullah, from whence came Nashua.  However, William Woodward Sr. did not live to see Nashua’s success and had he lived, Nashua might not ever have met his great rival Swaps, as he was originally intended for the European classics.  Whether or not his antics would have been tolerated at Epsom is sheer speculation, but to say that Nashua had personality in no small way gives him his just due.

Whether one is talking about his propping in mid-race to admire (either a bird or an airplane depending on which story you believe) or years later watching him snatch a lady’s purse and go romping off with it swinging from his teeth in his stallion paddock, Nashua loved to have a good time.  No matter what the big bay did, he did it on his own terms and for the most part, he did everything exceedingly well, if with a sense of humor.

Not a Great Sire

Though he lost his Triple Crown when Swaps won the 1955 Kentucky Derby, Nashua won the other two legs when Swaps’ connections returned him to California.  Nashua then later evened the score in a Chicago match race with a less-than-sound Swaps and to this day which was better remains something of a rhetorical question.  Either way, Nashua’s importance in modern pedigrees cannot be denied, not only due to Mr. Prospector and Roberto, but because of his tail-male influence via Good Manners’ South American contribution which gave us the California-based Memo (Arg).

As a matter of fact, South America has been rather kind to Segula’s family line.  Nashua’s half sister Sabette by Alsab, winner of the Alabama Stakes and second in the Coaching Club American Oaks, has a well-established Peruvian branch via her Crozier granddaughter Paddington.  This flourishing branch includes several Group 1 winners and placers and is alive and kicking as of this writing.

The Full Sister

But the really superior daughter branch of Segula comes via Nashua’s full sister Stavroula, who like her granddam *Sekhmet was not much of a racehorse.  Under Stavroula are such good horses as Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte (Group 2) winner Wittgenstein, American Derby (G1) winner Determined King and Preakness victor Louis Quatorze, a good sire who has a good sire son in Repent (from – imagine this – a South American tail-female line and the same South American tail-female line as Cigar).

There is more, however.  Louis Quatorze has a half sister by Deputy Minister named Deputy Royal who foaled stakes winner Royal Saint and he also has an A. P. Indy half sister named Royal Indy, a G1 victress.  Royal Indy has not produced a big horse yet, but there is still time.

There is some irony, too, in that Louis Quatorze began his stud career in Kentucky and is now in Maryland where old Belair Stud once held sway.  Other major Maryland winners under Stavroula include the Penniless Heiress group which include Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G1) winner Wildcat Heir.  Maybe there is something to this Chesapeake Bay thing after all.

The Taproot and Its South American Implications

*Sekhmet and Segula descend from the No. 3 (Mr. Bowes Byerley Turk Mare) family, via the 3-M (Amazon) branch.  Aside from this immediate branch, probably the best know part of 3-M belongs to Moonrise.  This is the immediate family of Hillshade, Mysterious, J. O. Tobin, etc.

It is of note, however, that family 3-M not surprisingly, has a strong South American influence at various times via a wide variety of French classic imports.  Some of the more important animals that descend from this taproot and are Southern Hemisphere standouts are Lord Jack (PER); Pipote (ARG); and Neguz (BRZ).  Lord Jack was a foal of 1989, Pipote of 1953 and Neguz of 1935, so even from this small sampling it is obvious that the family’s roots are strong.  There is another, smaller ‘pocket’ of 3-M in South America descending from Prix de Diane winner Versigny (FR).  It includes such good ones as Escorial (BRZ), a Gran Premio Carlos Pelligrini winner and Group 1 Chilean Hilador, winner of the Premio Copa de Oro.

The bottom line is that French stamina was well received in South America, established itself well and then bred back well to other French stamina when it encountered a like spirit via Nashua’s bottom line in Good Manners.  So while it clearly makes sense to breed Louis Quatorze to Mr. Prospector mares, not only to cross Northern Dancer on Mr. Prospector but to cross Nashua on his full sister Stavroula, one might do even better with Repent, whose South American bottom line could well respond even more favorably.

The Pedigree of Segula

Segula’s pedigree was really rather straightforward:  She had a 7 x 6 cross of half sisters Frivolity and Little Agnes (x2 Miss Agnes); her dam carried a double of Blink Bonny via Blair Athol and Breadalbane; and five lines of Pocahontas via King Tom x2/Stockwell x2/Araucaria.

Insofar as male-line inbreeding, we find a sex-balanced double of Bay Ronald in Johnstown’s contribution (Dark Ronald/Rondeau); as well as a sex-balanced double of Ajax (Teddy/La Flambee).  *Sekhmet carried a double of Scottish Chief daughters La Foudre and Ruth.

Crossover inbreeding occurred with a 6 x 6 x 6 x 5 cross of Bend Or via four daughter lines: Fairy Gold; Oroya; Golden Irish and Conclusion.  Then St. Simon counters with a 6 x 6 x 6 x 5 contribution via daughter Concertina and sons Rabelais, St. Serf and Tarporley.

As always, there is more in the nether-reaches of the pedigree, but it is fair to say that Segula was a very stoutly bred mare which gave great substance and bone to her son and which was the perfect counterpart for Nashua’s unruly sire, *Nasrullah.  *Nasrullah, a good physical horse himself, gave Nashua enough speed to compete well at two and to mature into a classic animal at three.  In other words, it was one of those rare ‘fish and fowl’ matings that Leon Rasmussen used to refer to that actually balanced out perfectly.

However, the piper must be paid and when Nashua went to stud he could, like all stallions, but impart what was in his genes.  He could not gift his offspring with his race record, but only his pedigree and it was a pedigree which was not fully fruitful in America until his daughters were able to meet enough Raise a Native speed to bring out the best of both worlds.

End Game

Whether or not Nashua breeds on in tale-male via Memo and others like him remains to be seen.  (By the way, Memo’s really good racing son Grey Memo who is now at stud is out of a Snow Chief mare and Snow Chief contributed some South American blood via his dam, Miss Snowflake which was inbred to Embrujo and Columbo).

But his contribution is secure via the two big guns, Mr. Prospector and Roberto and Louis Quatorze has given this family a big push.  Other young branches listed on the enclosed chart and mentioned above make us feel secure in saying that the line is far from extinct.  Like Bold Ruler’s dam Miss Disco, Segula will always have ‘the big horse’ syndrome because of Nashua.  And who can argue that while he is not alone, he is pretty much enough all by himself.

Memories

On a personal note, we met and knew and loved Nashua.  And it was our purse he grabbed in his teeth.  Clem Brooks, his beloved groom who is depicted with him atop his grave marker (the two were as inseparable as Will Harbut and Man o’ War) told us that the week before he had grabbed a man’s camera.  “Mickey” was 29 at the time.

It is also worth remembering that the stallion barn at Spendthrift, a stallion barn that housed Never Bend and Raise a Native and Exclusive Native and Majestic Prince and *Gallant Man and in later years, Seattle Slew was – and will forever be – known as the “Nashua Motel”.  And finally, how can we forget that at the age of 10, we wrote a letter to Spendthrift Farm asking for a photo of Nashua.  We got not one but two perfectly gorgeous shots of him that we still have.  Such kind acts toward young fans make for life-long love affairs with racing and when Nashua died at the age of 30, we took out those photos and remembered all he had meant to us.

 New Reines-de-Course

So we owe this family a debt of gratitude for enriching the classic elements of American racing through French stamina and the sound constitution it brought to American speed.  A fine mixture of old and new, of light horse to heavy horse as it were, we give you Segula; her dam, *Sekhmet; Nashua’s full sister Stavroula; Paddington for her South American contribution and Royal Ties for her re-awakening of that branch of the line as new Reines-de-Course from the 3-M family.  They are a sound lot, use them well.

Family 3-M