The Tourbillon Line and the Family That Almost Wasn’t

We were once told that there is more Herod blood in the Thoroughbred than any other.  Lacking a scientific way to verify that statement, we have often looked for and even longed for more of the line, given its tremendous impact via Tourbillon (not forgetting his Frizette family, of course!) in particular.  And of course many of the Marcel Boussac breds that the Aga Khan eventually acquired were linebred to these strains.

One French-bred Herod/Tourbillon-line mare that made an impact in the U. S. was the 1949 matron *Sylvanaise by Tourbillon’s son Meridien.  Out of the La Farina mare Meriem, Meridien won 10 races including the Prix de la Cote d’Argent and the Grand Prix du Printemps.

Though not in the same class as *Ambiorix or Djebel, Meridien was twice among the leading sires in France.  Some of his more accomplished get were Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud victor Medium, sire of the very good racehorse Misti (Prix Ganay, 2nd Ascot Gold Cup, 3rd Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, etc.)  Other Meridien offspring include classic placed Myriade, Arc third Point D’Amour and Prix Ridgway winner Sphinx.

Meridien was also the broodmare sire of Arc winner Sica Boy, but his bloodline was perhaps best served by half siblings Ile de Bourbon (by Nijinsky II) and Rose Bowl (by Habitat).  Both Group I winners (Ile de Bourbon won the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Coronation Cup, Rose Bowl won the Champion Stakes), they were out of *Misti’s daughter Roselerie.  We don’t see nearly enough of Meridien’s bloodline today, however, and it is a major loss to racing’s pedigree foundation.

*Sylvanaise, bred in France by J. Laffitte and J. Galtier, was out of the Blue Skies (Blandford) mare Silver Blue.  Blue Skies won the Prix du Conseil General, but as a stallion he was no *Blenheim II.

The family from which *Sylvanaise descends was the main line of Family 19 (Old Woodcock [Davill’s] Mare.  And as Leon Rasmussen once later diplomatically put it when discussing Water Bank, “Imported *Sylvanaise belonged to a French distaff family which has done much better in recent generations in this country than it did in France.”

That is quite true, but for a while it seemed that this turnaround would never happen.  *Sylvanaise was barren her first two years in the stud, 1955 and 1956 and she produced a dead foal in 1957.

The following year, she would get her only important producing daughter, Forest Song by Spy Song’s full brother Mr. Music, who won three races.  After Forest Song *Sylvanaise had five more barren years and two fillies, a 1960 by *Peter Flower who won four of 82 starts and left only one foal – a male by Uproar.  Her only other living foal was a 1963 filly by *Day Court named Stumble who won three of nine starts.  So Forest Song had a huge burden to carry – a family to save as it were.  History shows that she was more than up to the challenge.  But first a word about what her dam’s contribution meant to American racing.

The Pedigree of *Sylvanaise

The dark bay mare was inbred to Sans Souci II (Grand Prix de Paris, Prix Daru, Prix Lupin and the sire of Professional Chef-de-Race La Farina, he broodmare sire of Meridien).

Other inbreeding included a 5 x 5 cross of half siblings Bona Vista and Velasquez (x2 Vista); a 5 x 6 sex-balanced Isonomy cross; and multiple lines of Galopin and his great son St. Simon.  In addition, her dam Silver Blue carried a double of Pilgrimage via Canterbury Pilgrim/Knight of Malta and a Bendigo/Bellinzona (Hasty Girl x2) cross.

Two male lines of Bend Or added some speed and while there is still more linebreeding further back, there is little doubt this pedigree is mainly quite a stout one, classic in the sense of ‘cup horse’ and very much a good base for the injection of American (and yes even European) speed.   Even a casual glance at the accompanying family chart shows a tremendous liking for lines like *Nasrullah, Mr. Prospector and In Reality – all known for speed.  And while there is nothing unusual about *Nasrullah in general, the family’s love for Bold Reasoning/Seattle Slew cannot be denied.

The Great Pairing

From Bold Reasoning’s champion sons Super Concorde and Seattle Slew, this family gave us the following:  Croeso (G1); Cardell (G3 placed); Super May (G1); Appreciating (G2 placed); Slewpy (G1); Manastash Ridge (G2 placed); and Corslew (non-graded stakes winner).

There is little doubt, at least in this observer’s mind, that Slew’s linebreeding to Frizette via Black Curl and Myrtlewood and Super Concorde’s Tourbillon cross via My Babu had a great deal to do with this so-called ‘nick’.   Naskra, who also appeared in Super Concorde, Ide, etc. was by Nasram whose dam was Tourbillon line.  Can this be a simple coincidence?  We tend to doubt it.

What is sad about this is that so much of this blood is difficult to access today.  Slewpy’s line alone was squandered in California and no real effort to continue the tail male Seattle Slew line via this tough, sound guy ever really happened.

Find him instead today via three sources:  As the broodmare sire of full brothers Slew’s Tizzy and Slew’s Tiznow (out of Hepatica, from the great old Cigar Maid family); both of course are by Tiznow.  Slew’s Tizzy, who won the G2 Lexington Stakes stands in Venezuela.  Slew’s Tiznow, a non-graded stakes winner who ran second in the G1 Breeders’ Futurity, stands in California.

Finally, there is The Visualiser, a stakes placed Giant’s Causeway son who stands in Oklahoma.  From the fine old Jonabell family of One Sum, The Vizualizer has Slewpy’s daughter Verbasle as his second dam.  It’s a shame this guy is so far off the beaten path but we salute his connections for advertising him in the Blood Horse stallion book so one can at least find him!

Inbreeding to *Sylvanaise

As for other family sources, Ide is the broodmare sire of G2 winner Dean’s Kitten, who also finished third in the Arlington Million.  And of course there are some younger daughter lines still in play.  Appealing Zophie, Roxy Gap and a handful of others are names to look for.

And while doubling this bloodline won’t be easy, we think it is worthwhile to save the Petrie dish which, when enriched with Bold Reasoning and the like, grew a bloodline of tough, classy runners.  Out there somewhere in regional markets may lie some hidden gems with lines and crosses of *Sylvanaise that have never been appreciated – or exploited.  We hope this story changes all that:  It’s called taking a chance, and we’re all for it.

New Reines

New Reines-de-Course from this family include *Sylvanaise, Forest Song, Melody Tree, Maytide, Rare Bouquet, and Corsage.  This family is very much ‘still running’ even if no one had the foresight to support the good sires from the line.

Family 19 Main