The Apple

This story marks the fourth chapter in the series of Reine-de-Course stories concerning The Apple, the great foundation mare from which descend such notable mares (and Reines) as Bourtai (profiled in Pedlines #37, December 1998), Nellie Flag (profiled in Pedlines #11, October 1996), and Rose Leaves (profiled in Pedlines #134, Nov./Dec. 2007).  This chapter will deal with The One I Love group of mares which contains the Dame Fritchie and *Affection (other than Boutai) groups.  We will return to this family one more time for a final chapter via Miss Albany (1938) at a later date.

Calumet Confluence

Our fascination with The Apple began when we realized that Bull Lea, Nellie Morse/Nellie Flag and Sun Again – all important parts of Calumet history – often met in pedigrees.  Coincidence?  We think not.

Consider what happened when Nellie Flag met Bull Lea:  Horses like Mark-Ye-Well; Saratoga Six (who got his Bull Lea from Alydar); Lakeway (whose dam was a sister to Saratoga Six and who got an extra line of Rose Leaves from her sire, Seattle Slew, via Espino); and Forego (who was tail-female to Nellie Flag via the Bull Lea mare Girlea) all emerged!

Sun Again’s most successful collaboration with Nellie Flag’s family was as the sire of Dewan’s second dam, Sunshine Nell, dam also of Sunny, broodmare sire of Kentucky Derby winner Sunny’s Halo.  But he worked in more recent pedigrees with both Nellie Flag and Bull Lea, i.e.:  Missymooiloveyou (Bull Lea x3/Sun Again); Forest Wildcat (Sun Again x2/Bull Lea); Dispersal and Mud Route (Sunny/Bull Lea) and Easyfromthegetgo (Bull Lea x2/Sun Again).

It is worth noting that Sun Again and Bull Lea had a great deal in common overall, sharing a Teddy/Bend Or/Minting/The Apple nexus.  Their main difference was that Sun Again was inbred to Domino and Amphion and had an extra cross of Bend Or.  Bull Lea was inbred to Musket and had an extra cross of Hermit.

Bull Lea lives on today via many sources, though not in tail-male, while Sun Again is responsible for the tail-male line of Teddy which gave us champion Damascus.  The line is in trouble, of this there is little doubt, though horses like Swiss Yodeler in California and Afternoon Deelites (who has been moved too many times to establish a client base) have done reasonably well.  There seems to be some kind of idiotic prejudice against Skip Away, one of the best racehorse of our generation, whose statistics are no worse than some of the high priced commercial horses, while there is still hope for Say Florida Sandy, the ultra-tough (98 starts) New Yorker whose first foals include stakes winner Say Toba Sandy.

So mixing and matching of The Apple’s lines always made sense.  Even today, taking things a step farther, a look at the pedigree of the good sprinter/miler and moderately successful sire Stormin Fever gives one a feel for what almost every important line of The Apple can do in a pedigree:  He carries crosses of Espino/Bull Lea x2 plus Nellie Flag and he is inbred to half sisters Hug Again/Escutcheon (x2 Affection)!  A pretty amazing pedigree by any standard, but it would be better served by belonging to a female member of the line.

A Circuitous Route

The Apple’s road to international matron of renown was filled with twists and turns and before it began to work its magic in the Bluegrass, it had its origins in the Blankeny Stud of Lord Henry Chaplin of Great Britain, found its way to France via *Affection, was imported by John Sanford and later owned by John Madden of Hamburg Place.

Chaplin’s contribution to The Apple’s pedigree is particularly intriguing, since he raced her sire, the Derby winner Hermit.  Chaplin also owned the breed-shaping Galopin, sire of St. Simon and he bred, though did not race, the great Shotover, who defeated colts in the Two Thousand Guineas and Derby before retiring to an even greater career as a broodmare.  Just a few of her descendents are Seattle Slew, Mr. Prospector, Dahlia, Ferdinand and Tourbillon.

A word about Hermit is in order since he did sire our subject.  He won his Derby in a snowstorm after bleeding so badly that his chances were thought to be lost.  He became a leading sire, but sadly he did not breed on in tail-male.  But his lovely spirit was a legend among his handlers.

John Griffiths, who was his stud groom said of him, “Hermit had the best of tempers; you could do anything with him.  His action was simply wonderful.  As a mover, Hermit would have taken a prize in any show ring.”

Joe Palmer also wrote of him in Names in Pedigrees that J. Simons Harrison described him thusly: “He was the most perfectly made Thoroughbred of the last half-century.  He had a lovely symmetry from head to foot, with the most perfect limbs you could put on a horse.  I should say no gamer horse ever looked through a bridle, though he may have been delicate at times.”

(It was Galopin who took up stud duties at Blankeny after Hermit’s death in 1890.  As Palmer also wrote, “The last produce of a Galopin and all great sires have a way of boiling down, as the years go by, to a single tag-line.  Galopin sired St. Simon.)

Affection’s Own John Henry

It is often said that even though it is unfortunate that horses like John Henry, Kelso, Forego and the more modern Lava Man cannot pass on their ability to offspring, there is a very good chance that we might never have heard of any of them had they remained entire horses.  As we all know, horses are gelded for more reason than bad pedigrees; they are often gelded due to temperament, soundness concerns or just plain to focus their minds on racing.

Affection was fortunate, too, in that she had Sun Again already in place.  Not many mares can be said to sire a breed-shaper like this horse was, since as noted above without him there would have been no Damascus.  And without Damascus there would have been no Private Account, and therefore no Personal Ensign, no War Emblem, and no Say Florida Sandy, nor would there have been the brilliant Gilded Time or the durable Skip Away.

Still, in order to get the true classic horse in tail-female, Affection needed a gelding.  A gelding named Crème Fraiche.  Possessed of an extraordinary pedigree that carried a 4 x 4 cross of three-quarter sisters Judy-Rae and Iron Reward, this gallant old fellow was the very definition of the word “racehorse”.  By the ordinary runner Rich Cream (descended from Reine-de-Course Ruddy Light – i.e. Alydar’s family), himself by the not terribly sound Crème Dela Crème, Crème Fraiche made his living – and his solid-gold reputation by virtue of his wonderful combination of family and inbreeding.

Crème Fraiche made 64 starts, and hit the board 42 times, earning over $4 million.  He won seven G1 races and placed in 10 more.  This was a champion’s champion.

Denied his opportunity to breed on, and with a dam who produced only four foals, Crème Fraiche’s line did not seem likely to live on.  Yet as we write this, two young sires with Crème Fraiche’s Sharpen Up half sister Dream Deal as their second dams are at stud:  Newfoundland by Storm Cat and Full Mandate by A. P. Indy.  Both have credentials.

Full Mandate won only a minor stake and stands in Florida.  He has a couple of stakes horses from his first crop to run and is inbred to Aloe via Feola and Aroma. He also has four *La Troienne presences via Baby League x2/Businesslike/Bimelech.

Newfoundland was the better racehorse and stands in Kentucky as befits his race record:  Two G3 wins, a couple of G1 placings and two more G2 on-the-board finishes.  His first runners face the starter this year and he adds a sentimental note to this article, since he is inbred to Affection via Hug Again (a Sun Teddy cross via Solar Display) and his own seventh dam, Escutcheon.  It’s kind of hard not to like him.

The Dame Fritchie Tragedy

There are any number of good horses under Dame Fritchie, but two who never seemed to have a fair shot to breed on, even after outstanding careers as runners, are two we have chosen to highlight here.  This is simply because if you should ever be lucky enough to come across a way to put them together in a pedigree, we think it might produce a most explosive result.  The two horses in question are champion Bates Motel and multiple G1 winner Optimistic Gal.

Both were by Epsom Derby winner Sir Ivor and both carried Dame Fritchie as a second dam.  Bates Motel’s dam was Sunday Purchase by T. V. Lark, Optimistic Gal’s was Hopes Ahead by Traffic Judge.

It would seem that, with the crowning of Curlin as 2007 Horse of the Year that Bates Motel finally has a shot to live on.  He is the sire of Curlin’s second dam, Barbarika.  His daughters produced a handful of other useful horses like Pie’s Prospect, That’s Tat, No Parole and Statesmanship, but he was never popular.  No son of Sir Ivor was ever going to be very popular in the U. S., since he was branded a “filly sire” early on prior to the advent of Bates Motel, not to mention the phenomenon (sire-wise) of Sir Tristram in Australia/New Zealand.

Bates Motel was a wonderful runner and was champion handicap male of 1983, when he won the G1 Santa Anita, Monmouth, and San Antonio Handicaps as well as the G3 San Diego Handicap.  That year, he also placed in the G1 Woodard and Marlboro Cup.

The tall bay with the floppy ears got generally tough, hard-knocking horses.  Among his best were the aforementioned Barbarika, a G2 winner (the Johnny Walker Black Classic H.); Private School (42 starts with 15 wins including the G2 Ohio Derby); Rare Blend, a 23-race veteran whose major wins included the G2 Molly Pitcher Handicap; Rampart Handicap (G2) winner Girl On A Mission and the crowd-pleasing Packett’s Landing (47 starts, mostly in New York-bred company).  The Blood Horse stallion register lists one son of Bates Motel still at stud, but his line will undoubtedly live on only through Curlin and his relatives.

Optimistic Gal’s story is far sadder, as there are no Curlin’s in her family tree.  This exemplary runner’s record reads like a laundry list of coveted filly or mare races.  She took contests like the G1 Selima, Frizette, and Matron, Delaware H., Spinster, Alabama, and Kentucky Oaks and placed in G1’s like the Sorority, Spinaway, Coaching Club American Oaks, Mother Goose and Acorn and Ruffian.  By any standards, she was a super-star.

Optimistic Gal produced 13 foals, which should have been a hint right there, though it was better than her dam’s meager record (eerily similar to the dam of close kin Bates Motel) with just two living foals (the other was a full brother to Optimistic Gal named San Regis and that is as much as we know).

Of this great mare’s 13 children, only Silent Generation, a colt by Stop the Music, could so much as place in a stake.  He ran second in the G3 Riva Ridge, and listed Alsab Stakes and third in the Iroquois Stakes.  He is listed as having sired foals but nothing of note.

As to her producing daughters, the winning Headin’ West (1983) by Mr. Prospector, got a stakes winner by Dixieland Band, a colt named Plano Pleasure who won the Cardinal Breeders’ Cup Handicap at Fonner Park. After that she appeared to be sold to Japan where she has gotten nothing that earned black type since.

Her 1985 unraced Topsider daughter Breezy Miss, who was exported to South Africa, shows a little bit of life.  Her Comic Blush (by Blushing Groom-Istria) daughter Radical Chick (SAf), also unraced, produced the 2001 champion 3-year-old colt in South Africa, Aries Diamond (SAf) by Centenary (Alydar-Roses for the Star).  Radical Chick’s unraced full sister Old Desire, also produced a G3 winner in South Africa named Tempting Fate by Raise a Tradition (Raise a Native-Nice Tradition).

Her 1986 Spectacular Bid daughter, a winner named Grand Slam Gal, got the wonderful Lord Avie mare Feasibility Study who won the G2 Turfway Breeders’ Cup Stakes and placed in the G1 Spinster.  Sadly, she died at the age of six before producing any foals.  Inheriting the family’s tendency to have few foals, Grand Slam Gal produced only Feasibility Study.

If there is any chance at all, and we would not put money on it at this juncture, for Optimistic Gal to live on, it just might be via Express the Bluess, a winning daughter of Cure the Blues who is in Australia.  She has produced one stakes placed horse to date, the Danehill filly Quinze Love.  But there are a lot of young horses under this family line by sires like Tale of the Cat, Thunder Gulch, and Footstepsinthesand.  We’ll keep an eye on this line and hope for the best.

Also a slight possibility resides with the 1989 In Favor (a winner by General Assembly – can you tell the Firestones owned this mare?)  She produced the stakes placed End Sweep filly whose first foal is a winner by Alphabet Soup named Five Star John.  She has youngsters by North Light (IRE)and Olmodovor.  Again, we’ll watch and hope.

New Reines-de Course

Our new Reines-de-Course from these branches of The Apple are:  Affection, Dame Fritchie, Frederick Street, Sunday Purchase, Charming Story, Heloise, Escutcheon, Strange Device, Likely Exchange, Demree, and Hug Again.  As always, should any other branches of this family ‘wake up’ and begin to respond to a new environment or gene pool, we’ll update the family accordingly.

Family 9-F