For a number of years, experts in Australia – and more recently in the U. S. – have been studying heart size in the Thoroughbred. One of the first major articles based on their conclusions was published in the February 28, 1994 issue of The Thoroughbred Times. More recently, of course, there is Marianna Haun’s popular book, The X Factor.
In the context of these discussions, one great mare, Pocahontas, has been credited as a possible single source of the sex-linked X chromosome which is responsible for large hearts in Thoroughbreds. A 1937 daughter of *Glencoe-Marpessa by Muley, Pocahontas is probably best known as the dam of Stockwell, the “Emperor of Stallions.”
It is not known if the Aga Khan was aware of heart size in Thoroughbreds, but one fact remains a constant in all literature concerning the building of his incredibly successful racing empire. He relied in large part on the teachings of Lt. Col. Vuillier, a retired French Army officer who is credited with being the originator of the dosage system, which identified a group of prepotent sires and one mare – the *Glencoe matron Pocahontas. While Vullier advised the Aga Khan on pedigrees, the Hon. George Lambton chose yearlings.
During one particularly intense period of yearling (filly) buying, Lambton purchased for the Aga Khan a daughter of Tracery-Blue Tit by Wildfowler for 7,700 guineas, considerably less than her half siblings Westward Ho (11,500 guineas) and Blue Ensign (14,500 guineas) had cost.
Later named Teresina, she would join other major purchases like Paola, winner of the Coronation Stakes; Cos, champion two year old filly of her year, second in the One Thousand Guineas and later dam of Rustom Pasha; Mumtaz Mahal, “the flying filly” regarded as the fastest of her sex ever seen in England and later ancestress of *Nasrullah, *Mahmoud and *Royal Charger; and Friar’s Daughter, an undistinguished racemare but later dam of Triple Crown winner *Bahram.
Teresina, in fact, very nearly found herself lost in this brilliant group, but lurking in her pedigree, whether by design of Colonel Vullier or not, were no less than seven crosses of the same Pocahontas of whom he thought so highly. Also of note was that Teresina’s sire, Tracery, was inbred to St. Simon and his full sister Angelica.
Teresina, it would seem, was purchased largely as a balancing act. Because Mumtaz Mahal, Cos and Friar’s Daughter were all quick fillies, Teresina brought stamina into the Aga Khan’s breeding program. Unlike Mumtaz Mahal, she did not win at all as a two-year-old, and won just one of eight starts at three while always competing against the best of her generation. Although her classic season seems weak on the surface, this was hardly so as she ran third (beaten just a neck and a head) in the Oaks, was second to colts in the 10-furlong Newmarket Stakes, and also ran second to colts in the Cornation and Eclipse Stakes.
Her lone victory at three was in the 1 1/2 mile Great Yorkshire Stakes and she finished out her season by running third, beaten just 3 1/2 lengths in the marathon St. Leger. Later, she would avenge her St. Leger loss to Tranquil by defeating him in three other races. Finally, in what was probably her finest race of the season, she ran Rose Prince to a head in the 2 1/4 mi. Cesarewitch Stakes.
At four, Teresina won three of her seven starts including the 2 5/8 mi. Goodwood Cup and the 1 3/4 mi. Jockey Club Stakes. But it was in her final race, the Jockey Club, that the true worth of her Pocahontas inbreeding and all the “heart” it implies came to the fore.
One account of her win states, “If Teresina was somewhat deficient in speed, there was never any question of her stamina and courage. Fighting on with wonderful pluck, the filly caught Papyrus just before the winning post and went on to win by half a length.”
Papyrus’ loss at Teresina’s hands no doubt somewhat soothed the ruffled feathers of her owner. He had asked Lambton to purchase Papyrus at the same time Teresina was bought but Lambton wrote him off as “too small”. When Papyrus subsequently won the Epsom Derby despite his size, His Highness was not amused.
Teresina was then retired from racing and she went home to live out her days on the rolling, windswept expanse of the Curragh at her owner’s Sheshoon Stud. Retired at the same time was Mumtaz Mahal, who would work her own kind of magic.
At Sheshoon, Teresina was to prove her worth and enhance mightily the reputation of her female line, which had been found wanting by many experts. Her dam, Blue Tit, was a minor winner by St. Leger winner Wildfowler and was foaled from the good racemare Petit Bleu, dam also of Oaks second Depeche. Prior to the advent of Teresina, Blue Tit’s best produce was undoubtedly Blue Dun, an outstanding two year old. But apart from her success, the family’s quality was decidedly spotty. The line was Teresina’s to improve, and this she did with authority.
During her lengthy career as a broodmare, Teresina would produce 12 foals, only three of which were fillies. Eight of her offspring won, only two of which were not of the highest class. Among her best were Irish Oaks winner Theresina, who was sired by the Aga Khan’s own Two Thousand Guineas winner Diophon; *Gino, third in the Two Thousand Guineas; Shahpoor, winner of the Jockey Club and fourth in the New Derby and New St. Leger during World War II.
Scattered among her produce and that of her daughters are such good sires as leading Australian sire Pakistan II; leading Brazilian sire Waldmeister; leading South African sire Princillon and top Swedish sire Ujiji. Looking at this record alone, Teresina is deserving of special recognition. Yet in one of the most noteworthy ironies found in the stud book, it is an unraced offspring, the Hyperion sire *Alibhai, who is why Teresina is remembered and honored today.
*Alibhai was sold to Californian L. B. Mayer as a yearling following the outbreak of World War II. However, before the colt could make a start, he bowed in both forelegs.
Subsequently, *Alibhai was purchased by Spendthrift Farm for $50,000 on behalf of a group of Kentucky breeders and in the Bluegrass he would become that rarest of successes – the unraced super-sire. *Alibhai’s record today shows that he was among the leading sires or broodmare sires from 1949 to 1970, a remarkable window of influence.
Among his 54 stakes winners were the great gelding Bardstown; Kentucky Derby winner Determine; juvenile champion Warfare; handicap star Traffic Judge; as well as Kelso’s sire Your Host; On Trust and Oligarchy. His best daughters included champion Bornastar and Flower Bowl, dam of Graustark and His Majesty.
Today *Alibhai’s sire line hangs by the slim but heartening thread of 1983 Preakness winner Deputed Testamony, sire of Maryland Million Classic winner Reputed Testamony and Testing; Honey Bee Handicap winner Under Oath and double Maryland Million Turf winner Winsox among his 17 stakes winners (11 stakes placed). His son Swear By Dixie, winner of the Heartland Derby, stands alongside his sire at Bonita Farm in Maryland and his first foals will race in 2002.
Of special interest to proponents of the (large heart) Pocahontas influence is that when *Alibhai died in 1960, an autopsy revealed that his heart weighed 13 pounds, two oz., compared to a normal horse’s 8-10 pound heart. Such a sire line should not be allowed to fade into oblivion.
Due to her stout inclination, it is rather unusual to find a horse inbred to Teresina herself, but leading California stallion In Excess (*Alibhai/Theresina) is proof that they can succeed. This Irish-bred, whose get are none too sound, nevertheless sires plenty of quality, and has a 2.22 AEI vs. a comparable index of 1.67 in his mares. His offspring are not just state-bred winners, either; he has gotten seven graded stakes performers among his 21 stakes winners (12%).
It is worth mentioning that Darby Dan Farm has had some of the best Teresina blood through the brothers Graustark and His Majesty. They also stood Hail The Pirates, a son of Hail To Reason who descended from Teresina’s daughter Teretania. From this branch of Teresina through Bravura, Lizabeth and others, Darby Dan “Americanized” Teresina to produce horses like Young America Stakes winner Script Ohio; Hill Prince Stakes winner Young Daniel and the Swaps mare Ortalan, dam of speedy California sire Walker’s and granddam of Milady Stakes winner Image of Reality.
Image of Reality in turn produced the outstanding grass mare Toussaud by El Gran Senor, and Toussaud is herself a double G1 producer with her first two foals, Chester House (by Mr. Prospector) and Honest Lady (by Seattle Slew). Her third stakes winner, Decarchy, is a three-quarter brother to Chester House by Distant View.
Since Mr. Prospector and Seattle Slew both descend from Myrtlewood, we look forward to seeing the blood of Toussaud’s children mingled several generations hence. They signal a rebirth of Teresina’s female line in the U. S.
In years past, well bred but stoutly inclined Teresina inbreds like Nice Pirate and Ziad entered stud with pedigrees and/or race records which illustrated that they lacked speed. Both failed.
What they most notably had in common was a cross of Graustark, something successful Teresina inbred In Excess lacks. While both these stallions had some speed in their bloodlines (Olympia, Bold Ruler, etc.) none had so much as In Excess, who is tail-male to brilliant Grey Sovereign and carries lines of the ultra-fast Sing Sing and Gold Bridge in his bottom line.
He has something in common with Toussaud’s Grade 1 winners as well, and that is a cross of the speed mare Myrtlewood. In Excess’ sire, Siberian Express, is tail-female to Myrtlewood as are the sires of Toussaud’s Chester House and Honest Lady.
The lesson is really very simple: If you want to inbreed to this family, make sure there is ample speed in both the sire and dam or it may revert to its stout roots. If that speed happens to contain a line of Myrtlewood, so much the better.
And if heart size is, indeed, one key to breeding a good horse and if Pocahontas blood is one way of unlocking the complexities of matings, then a breeder could do worse than inbreed to Teresina. With seven crosses (three of Stockwell, two of King Tom, one of Rataplan and one of daughter Auracaria), she is a very major source indeed.
Welcome then, the courageous Teresina and her daughters Theresina and *Teretania to the Reine-de-Course list. Thanks to a modern rebirth of this family, we also happily update and add Ortalan and Edee’s Image. Toussaud should not be far behind.