The name “Brown Bess” must truly be a fortunate one for Thoroughbred mares. In 1982 a small, dark brown mare by that name was foaled in California and before her racing days were over, she had become an Eclipse award winner for her excellence on the turf.
More than a century earlier, a daughter of Camel named Brown Bess was foaled in England and today her descendents (just the best of them of course) take up six pages in the Family Tables. One of these branches contains Reine-de-Course Quiver, ancestress of Sunday Silence. Quiver’s dam, Young Melbourne Mare, is a half sister to West Australian Mare, the third dam of our current subject, Stolen Kiss, whose family has also had an enormous impact in the U. S.
Stolen Kiss, who was bred by Mr. John Scott, was foaled in England in 1907. Her sire was July Cup Stakes winner Best Man, her dam Breach by Hagioscope. From Stolen Kiss, the family would spread its influence most impressively via Oaks winner Straitlace (by Son-in-Law) and her half sister Kiss Again (by Tracery).
In turn, Straitlace’s most important ancestress was *Beaver Street (by *My Babu), while Kiss Again’s family made its name via half sisters Tenez (by Friar Rock) and Some Pomp (by Pompey).
Outside these two branches was the imported sire Uruguayo, a son of Pronto who won the Gran Premio Carlos Pellegrini and who stood for a brief time in this country before being exported to Venezuela. Uruguayo did not do well as a sire, but he is a viable way to use the blood of this family for inbreeding if you find his name in the pedigree of a mare or sire who interests you in other ways.
The Straitlace Clan
*Beaver Street was purchased for $18,500 at the 1961 Keeneland fall mixed sale by Charles F. Kieser who bred Kentucky Oaks winner Native Street from her. Native Street, who ran in the colors of Abraham I. Savin, was a $40,000 two-year-old-in-training and was quite precocious.
The grey daughter of Native Dancer won her first three races, including the Astoria and Sorority Stakes. Sent to Arlington Park in Chicago, Native Street encountered an off track for the first time, and ran third and fifth respectively in the Lassie Trial and Arlington-Washington Lassie. The experience earned her some time off.
At three, Native Street came back to win her first start, a division of the Jasmine Stakes at Hialeah, and also took a division of the Betsy Ross Handicap prior to winning the Kentucky Oaks over such good fillies as Justakiss and Lady Pitt. She did not win another major event, though she did place in the Test prior to retiring with a record of 19 placings in 24 starts and earnings of $236,808.
Today, Native Street’s sub-branch of the Straitlace family is the strongest, though her full sister Street Dancer has also done well. Majestic Street, who is bred on the same pedigree pattern as Native Street and Street Dancer (both are by Native Dancer-*Beaver Street, while Majestic Street is by Native Dancer’s grandson Majestic Prince-*Beaver Street), has had the misfortune to see many of her foals land in a regional market (Oklahoma). The family has continued to produce decent stakes horses like Queen’s Gray Bee and Storm Me September, but nothing on a par with Native Street’s Fire The Groom and Dowsing or Street Dancer’s River Special.
Nevertheless, this is a family with a good future. There are virtually dozens of young horses by good sires on both the national and regional levels. If there is a problem at all, it is that the sires in the family have not been very well served.
Regal and Royal and Ayman languished in California, Queen’s Gray Bee is in Oklahoma where he did not get very good mares. River Special was sent to Turkey, the Fappiano horse Widyan to Norway.
Stravinsky (Ashford Stud in Kentucky) and Ponche (Ocala Stud in Florida) should have a better chance. However, some of the daughters of the regional sires like Regal and Royal may not be welcome in their books. When a stallion stands in a regional market and is not carefully bred, his daughters generally are not of very good family and if a stud farm wants to make a young sire, they are more interested in getting stakes winners and stakes producers to him than they are in inbreeding to his family.
Thus, this is still very much a ‘watch and see’ situation. But with the number of well-bred young horses out there from the family and the sheer number of young horses overall, there should be at least some of them worthy of visiting these well-placed sires.
Kiss Again’s Group –
The Courage of Henbit and The Star-Crossed Career of Dancing Brave
Kiss Again’s family has been more classic than Straitlace’s, accounting for Epsom Derby winner Henbit, Two Thousand Guineas and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Dancing Brave, and Kentucky Derby winner Lucky Debonair.
Tenez is the ancestress of both Henbit and Dancing Brave. The latter may have had the courageous name, and the best overall racing career, but Henbit did something that few horses are even remotely capable of doing: He won the Epsom Derby on a shattered leg.
Henbit was bred in the U. S. by Mrs. Jack G. Jones and was sold as a yearling to Mme. Etti Plesch for $24,000. His goal all along was the Epsom Derby, as his sire, *Hawaii, had already sired horses who ran second (Hawaiian Sound) and third (Hunza Dancer) in the blue ribbon classic.
*Hawaii was South African-bred and was champion grass horse in the U. S. before taking up stud duty at Claiborne Farm. His sire, Utrillo II, did not win stakes, but was by Italian stakes winner Toulouse Lautrec, who was imported to the U. S. Toulouse Lautrec in turn was by Epsom Derby winner Dante. *Hawaii also carried a cross of Quiver via Uganda, second dam of his broodmare sire Mehrali, thus adding another important daughter branch of Brown Bess to Henbit’s female contribution.
There was also classic blood on Hebit’s bottom side. His stakes winning dam, Chateaucreek, was by Kentucky Derby winner Chateaugay, he a son of Kentucky Derby winner Swaps.
Henbit won at two, but was not near the top of his division. Over the winter, however, he filled out into a tall, rangy colt with a big, loping stride. He immediately showed his improvement by winning his two Derby preps, the Classic Trial and Chester Vase.
In the Derby itself, run on a very hot day, Henbit went off second favorite to Irish Two Thousand Guineas winner Nikoli. Henbit was reserved off the leaders for the first part of the race, then took over with two furlongs remaining. But nearly as quickly as he had wrested the lead from Rankin, the colt veered sharply to the right, yet held on for a three-quarter length over Master Willie. When jockey Willie Carson pulled Henbit up, he knew immediately how lame he was and the colt limped into the winner’s enclosure, obviously in pain.
X-rays later revealed that Henbit had fractured his cannon bone – the crack a full five inches in length. Henbit was a very lucky horse indeed.
Once healed, Henbit returned to the races at four, but could not win again and he was retired to stud in Ireland, and was later moved to Helshaw Grange Stud in Shropshire, England. It was there on the morning of May 21, 1997, that Henbit was found collapsed in his stall shortly after covering a mare.
An examination revealed that the horse who had fought Epsom’s uphill grade so courageously could not recover from injuries he had sustained to his back and he was humanely destroyed. Major Dick Hern, who had trained him to win his classic said, “He was a very brave horse – as game as they come. He cracked his off-fore cannon bone 50 yards from the line in the Derby, but incredibly still managed to win.”
As it turns out, only Henbit’s obvious courage would be his only epitaph, for he was not a successful sire. He did redeem himself somewhat, however, as a sire of steeplechasers, getting among others Champion Hurdle winner Kribensis.
Dancing Brave’s career came in two parts – and they can safely be defined as triumph and tragedy. As a racehorse, there were few better.
At two he was unbeaten, and at three he won the Two Thousand Guineas, the Arc, the Eclipse, and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. He lost only twice – by a half length to Shahrastani in the Epsom Derby after a questionable ride; and in the Breeders’ Cup Turf, when he finished a tired fourth after a long campaign.
The handsome son of Lyphard was retired to Sheikh Mohammed’s Dalham Hall Stud near Newmarket in England and right away things took a turn for the worse. He was nearly hit by a car before covering his first mare, and then suffered what would turn out to be the first of two bouts with Marie’s Disease, a rare tuberculosis-type infection. Both shareholders and his former fans were delighted to hear he had managed to avoid the worst.
But when Dancing Brave’s first crop hit the races, they did not burst upon the scene with brilliance. As always, patience was at a low ebb very early, and the horse was promptly sold to Japan before anyone had the faintest idea how he might really fare as a stallion. Almost immediately after his sale, he got two Derby winners in one year – English Derby winner Commander in Chief and Italian Derby winner White Muzzle. Sad to say, both of those colts were also sold to Japan.
In Japan, Dancing Brave did well, but was never the breakout sire that Sunday Silence has become. In 1995, he suffered another bout of Marie’s disease, and again pulled through. Then in August of 1999, he died of an apparent heart attack, bringing his turbulent life story to an end. At the time of his death, he had sired 31 stakes winners.
Where To Find The Blood
Obviously, it is nearly impossible to get one’s hands on the blood of either Henbit or Dancing Brave. However, there are alternatives right here in the states and these are of particular interest should one actually have Henbit or Dancing Brave blood in one of his mares or sires.
One of the best and closest relations to Dancing Brave in the U. S. was Mr. Purple. Early on, the son of Deputy Minister was plagued with fertility problems, but after he moved to Victory Rose Ranch near Vacaville, CA, and was under the care of fertility specialist Dr. Liu of U. C. Davis, he achieved almost a 100% fertility rate. Mr. Purple shared in common with Dancing Brave lines of Northern Dancer; Drone and Stop the Music, who are bred on the same *Turn-to/Tom Fool cross and of course half sisters Otra and Handcuff. Sadly, just when it looked as if Mr. Purple would have a chance, he died of a heart attack, but a handful of his daughters will still be available for breeding.
Mr. Purple’s half (or closer) sister Queens Court Queen has been bred to very good sires (Seeking The Gold, Gone West) since her retirement and when one of her sons goes to stud she will impart, though him, a similar influence to Mr. Purple.
As to the Henbit cross, the closest relation to him is Island Kitty, the dam of Shy Tom, Hennessy and Pearl City. Both Henbit and Island Kitty are by *Hawaii and Henbit’s fifth dam, Handcuff, is a half sister to Dipsy Doodle, the second dam of Tom Cat, broodmare sire of Island Kitty. They also share a daughter cross of Jack High and son crosses of Hyperion.
The Calumet Infuence –
Proud One and Duchess Peg From The Some Pomp Group
The story of Lucky Debonair is really a rather sad one. By a good racehorse, Vertex, who was never popular with breeders and from an old Calumet-owned line of mares tracing to Some Pomp, Lucky Debonair was bred by Danada Farm, who had purchased his second dam, Airy (by Bull Lea) from Calumet, who had also bred third dam Proud One (*Blenheim II-Some Pomp).
By any standard, Lucky Debonair was a very good racehorse. In addition to his 1965 Kentucky Derby, he also won the Bluegrass, Santa Anita Derby and Santa Anita Handicap and retired with $370,960 in earnings when money was money. But when one reads between the lines of the various accounts of the colt’s Derby, there is an apologists’ stance in all of them – as in, a horse bred like this should not have won America’s most important race.
Although Vertex, Lucky Debonair’s sire, was a very good handicap horse, he did not descend from the branch of the St. Germans line which had done well in the Kentucky Derby. St. Germans himself got two Kentucky Derby winners; 1931 winner Twenty Grand (who was sterile) and 1936 winner Bold Venture, who went on to sire two Derby winners of his own; 1950 winner Middleground and 1946 Triple Crown winner Assault (also sterile).
So the best branch of St. Germans did, indeed, have fertility problems. But Lucky Debonair’s branch via The Rhymer did not. Instead it died out from a total lack of interest.
Obviously Lucky Debonair descended from a sire line which was more than capable of getting a classic horse. He was also linebred to St. Simon and his full sister Angelica; his dam to full siblings Sainfoin/Sierra. The old American lines of Domino, the European speed of The Tetrarch and the stoutness and stamina of Musket (also a Brown Bess descendent) all were sprinkled liberally throughout his lineage. His inbreeding to Teddy (4 x 5) “brough him up to date”, but his was a pedigree of strength and soundness, not one of speed and precocity.
As one might imagine, Lucky Debonair was not highly patronized by great mares during the time he stood in this country. In all he sired 15 stakes winners, the best of which were Demoiselle Stakes winner Dresden Doll; Mother Goose Stakes winner Girl In Love and of course Malacate, the outstanding Irish Derby winner who also ran third in the French Derby – and was exported to stud in Japan. Lucky Debonair himself was sold at the Danada dispersal in late 1975 and was exported to Venezuela.
Lucky Debonair’s daughters did moderately well as producers, getting Debonair Roger, Hasty Flirt, Go West Young Man, Jeblar, and Fortunate Prospect, to touch on the best of them. So the sire line is gone, but the blood lives on.
Inbreeding to Lucky Debonair’s immediate branch of the Stolen Kiss family can be tricky, but one way to do so is with a mare who is by or has a line of Ziggy’s Boy back to a horse like Fortunate Prospect. This would effect a cross of full sisters Mims (third dam of Ziggy’s Boy) and Airy (second dam of Lucky Debonair) as well as doubling Olympia via daughters. Ziggy’s Boy left the U. S. permanently for Australia in 1998, so there are not a lot of his daughters around, but there should be some availble if this is the cross one seeks.
Furthermore, there is another powerful way to use Lucky Debonair or Ziggy’s Boy lines, and that is crossing their blood back to another important branch of the family, that of Duchess Peg, who was also bred by Calumet Farm.
Duchess Peg was a half sister to Proud One, the third dam of Lucky Debonair. By Triple Crown winner Whirlaway, Duchess Peg was a good racehorse, who the Arlington Lassie, but it was as a broodmare at Greentree Stud that her blood truly blossomed.
Duchess Peg’s daughter Bright Coronet, a winner by Bull Lea, is the main conduit through which this branch of the family lives on. Further, she is a three-quarter sister to Airy, second dam of Lucky Debonair and to Mims, the third dam of Ziggy’s Boy.
Although Bright Coronet did not distinguish herself at the racetrack, she most certainly made up for it at stud, foaling stakes winner and 1985 Broodmare of the Year Dunce Cap II, she dam of champion Late Bloomer and her stakes winning full brothers Late Act and Johnny Appleseed.
Late Bloomer herself produced the two very good runners Fred Astaire (by Nijinsky II) and Ends Well (by Lyphard), both of which are/were useful sires.
While there is a grassy bent to many of the good horses from this sub-branch of the family, this has more to do with the sires used (Nijinsky II, Lyphard, Stage Door Johnny) than the family of itself. Should one wish to add more speed, this group is largely devoid of Raise A Native blood.
The Pedigrees of Stolen Kiss And Her Major Descendents
The first thing that jumps out at one when looking at the six-generation pedigree of Stolen Kiss is that it is totally devoid of St. Simon blood, almost unheard of for mares of this time frame (1907). As a result, the plentiful St. Simon bloodline was perfect to ‘improve’ her, helping the family to grow and develop its classic ability.
Stolen Kiss herself was linebred to Pocahontas (1837) via Stockwell x3/Rataplan. St. Simon then brought in a cross of Pocahontas’ other major sire son, King Tom (his broodmare sire).
By the time Beaver Street arrived on the scene in 1953, St. Simon had been added via Rabelais, Chaucer x2 and Concertina. Some More (1920) received St. Simon lines via Roquebrune/St. Angela.
Speed was not overlooked as the families’ branches evolved: Beaver Street was 4 x 4 Pharos/Fairway; Some More was inbred to Bend Or. Some More’s daughter Tenez got another Bend Or cross via Fairy Gold, while Some Pomp was inbred to Polymelus (fourth dam Brown Bess).
Another recurring pattern is Sainfoin/Sierra (as with Lucky Debonair). Tenez is Sainfoin x2/Sierra while Some Pomp is Sierra x2/Sainfoin.
Beaver Street, younger than than the Some More group and descending from Straitlace, has a diffent pedigree pattern. In fact, her pedigree looks very European indeed.
Beaver Street is sex-balance inbred to Bruleur, sire of Ksar, on a 5 x 4 pattern via Ksar/Fireplace. She is also linebred to Canterbury Pilgrim via Swynford x2/Chaucer x3. In addition, she is 6 x 6 to Barcaldine-line Beppo, winner of the Hardwicke and Jockey Club Stakes and the Manchester Cup.
Beaver Street’s Polymelus double (via Pharos/Fairway) also gives her a very special cross in common with Some More, and that is inbreeding to Brown Bess herself. In the case of Some More, this appears via a 5 x 5 cross of half sisters Young Melbourne Mare/West Australian Mare. Some Pomp, who was inbred to Polymelus, actually carried three lines of Brown Bess via Young Melbourne Mare x2/West Australian mare. And Beaver Street had a three-way cross of Brown Bess via Young Melbourne Mare x2/West Australian Mare.
It is quite important to note here that, historically, the blood of Polymelus, who added speed, also effected linebreeding to Brown Bess when crossed with this group of mares. There are no coincidences in Thoroughbred pedigrees!
This is a great old family and a very diverse one. Plus as we have shown, there are a great many ways to inbreed to it to improve the stock while also linebreeding to the foundation mare Brown Bess.
Quiver gave us a previous look at how classic Brown Bess’ influence can still be, and due to her presence along with the Stolen Kiss group of mares, we add Brown Bess herself along with Stolen Kiss and her descendents Beaver Street; Native Street; Some More; Mooncreek; Olmec; Some Pomp; and Dunce Cap II to the Reine-de-Course fold. “Brown Bess” is indeed a very forunate name!