I am frequently asked what quality best defines a mare that I consider as a potential Reine-de-Course. Which is one of the easier questions I come across. The answer is quality, preferably classic quality. And few mares are more responsible for that quality than the *Tulyar mare Tulip. From this line alone in recent years have come two Breeders’ Cup winners: Silic, winner of the 1999 Breeders’ Cup Mile and Horse of the Year Azeri, winner of the 2002 Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
An Intriguing Sire
Although most of our focus in the Reine-de-Course series is on the tail-female line, Tulip has a most fascinating sire. A St. Simon-line Epsom Derby winner from the same branch (Bois Roussel) as *Gallant Man, *Tulyar became a story long before anyone ever heard of Tulip.
Bred by the Aga Khan at his Gilltown Stud in Ireland, *Tulyar was foaled in March of 1949. As a three-year-old of 1952, he won the Derby, the St. Leger and five other races, finishing his classic season unbeaten and breaking a 50-year-old earnings record for a British racehorse. He was then sold to the Irish National Stud for $700,000.
When his first foals were born, they were so handsome that A. B. “Bull” Hancock of Claiborne Farm, sought out the opportunity to purchase the horse and stand him in the United States. At the time, *Tulyar was considered to be the best looking, most promising animal in the world. That thought would last less than a year.
At the beginning of his first season at stud, *Tulyar first showed signs of a minor illness – a slight temperature, lack of appetite and a low sperm count. As his condition gradually worsened, *Tulyar lost nearly all of his coat hair, over 400 pounds in actual weight and was so weak he lost his balance and began to fall.
*Tulyar’s downward spiral, caused it was eventually found by an enlarged seminal vesical, nearly cost him his life. He received all manner of antibiotics, various saline and dextrose solutions and just about anything else anyone could come up with. His muscles became horribly sore, his kidneys failed, his bare skin was a mass of sores. The beloved Irish champion, once a glowing tribute to Thoroughbred beauty, was but a shadow waiting to walk through death’s widening door.
At this point, he was undernourished, dehydrated and virtually devoid of a functioning immune system. His caretakers would have to start from scratch and pray that they could heal the horse one step at a time – and then that he would still be fertile. Making a culture of ‘good’ bacteria from, of all things, *Nasrullah’s manure, *Tulyar’s immune system was rebuilt. As he gradually improved from week to week and month to month, a sperm sample was taken. The result was devastating: The great horse had no viable semen.
Fortunately *Tulyar’s sperm count recovered as well as the rest of his bodily functions, and before long he was breeding normally and getting his mares in foal. Even if he had not, however, he already had on the ground a bay filly out of *Bray Melody named Tulip – our current Reine-de-Course.
From The “First” Family of the Thoroughbred
*Tulyar’s daughter Tulip traced back in tail-female to the No. 1 family, headed by Tregonwell’s Natural Barb Mare. As the first of the Bruce Lowe families, it was designated “one” since it had produced the most classic winners. Today, it is still classically inclined.
The branch of the No. 1 clan to which Tulip traces is the Paraffin (1-L) line of the Ellen Horne (I-J) family. This lineage descends from the mare Julia. In her story on Azeri’s family in The Thoroughbred Times, Eclipse award-winning writer Mary Simon wrote, “It traces back 21 generations and 250 years from Azeri to the 1756 filly Julia, whom pedigree authority and noted author John Wall once described as ‘The mare who has exerted the largest influence in the Thoroughbred world.’ ”
Tulip’s dam, the Coup de Lyon mare *Bray Melody, was imported by Howard Reineman’s Crown Crest Farm in 1953, two years before Tulip was born. That year, *Bray Melody’s *Royal Charger filly Happy Laughter (GB) won the One Thousand Guineas and became a champion. *Bray Melody had previously foaled the Princess Royal Stakes winner *Shrewd Suspicion (dam of stakes winner Sumidea) and her 1952 colt by Solar Slipper, State Trumpeter, was also a black-type winner (the Criterion Stakes), though not in the same league as Happy Laughter. Finally, *Bray Melody had stakes placed *Finlandia by *Arctic Prince, who ran third in the Remsen Stakes.
*Bray Melody had one other daughter named Brief Song by Hasty Road whose bloodline is still alive. Brief Song did not win in seven tries but she is the dam of Yorkshire Oaks (Group 1) third Sea Singer by *Sea-Bird. Sea Singer in turn produced the stakes winning full siblings Greek Air (IRE) and Grecian Urn (IRE) by Ela-Mana-Mou. The latter won the Group 2 Criterium de Maisons Laffitte and has produced two black type winners, Grecian Dart (IRE) and Dark Shell (IRE), both by Darshaan.
The Pedigree of Tulip
The major line of mares in which Tulip is richest is Pilgrimage. This beautiful bloodline trickles down via half siblings Chaucer x2/Swynford (out of Canterbury Pilgrim), and via Canterbury Pilgrim’s half brother Loved One. Then there are four lines of Black Duchess: Black Cherry/Bay Ronald x3. Full siblings Sainfoin x3 and Sierra x2 (Springfield-Sanda) appear 7 x 7 x 7 x 6 x 6. Half sisters Maid Marian x3/La Fleche (out of Quiver) are 7 x 7 x 7 x 6, while full sisters Simena and Simona (St. Simon-Flying Footstep) are supported only by *Tulyar, and dam *Bray Melody carries three-quarter siblings (by Newminster and a son of Newminster out of Seclusion) Reticence and Hermit.
*Bray Melody also has a cross of full siblings Suicide and Dinah (Hermit-Ratcatcher’s Daughter) and half siblings Bona Vista and Velasquez (x2 Vista). Finally, there are three lines of Verona in *Bray Melody’s contribution via Thurio x2/Lucetta.
It is an exotic mix of the best female lines layered with the best male lines (St. Simon, Hampton, Isonomy, Gainsborough, etc.) As classic pedigrees go, it is set up to perfection with just one line of ‘newer’ Phalaris blood via Nearco (and one daughter line via Mirawala). In other words, it was prepared for the onslaught of Phalaris blood that would help it stay ‘current’ in a world gone mad for speed.
Some Frustrating Amazons
Although the Tulip clan has produced some very nice racing colts, the fillies tend to stand out, though not as producers. Azeri, for example, is the only filly in history to win an Eclipse as Horse of the Year while never having to bother with meeting colts to get the job done. She did not get in foal her first year at stud, but had a 2007 colt by A. P. Indy. If she continues to produce year after year, she will be the exception in her family and not the rule, where problem mares abound.
French One Thousand Guineas winners River Lady and Matiara were also outstanding runners but have left nothing behind. Matiara was British foaled, but was French –owned (Marc de Chambure in partnership with Alec Head), French-trained (Criquette Head) and French-ridden (Freddie Head). She not only withstood an objection to keep her classic (which she had won by a nose over Carling) but she also backed up that form with a second in the French Oaks and then reinforced her class in the U. S., where she won the Grade 1 Ramona Handicap at Del Mar.
River Lady was the second highweighted filly on the Free Handicap at two, won her classic and did no more. Perhaps the most intriguing thing about her is the name of her pacemaker, Pasadoble – yes, that’s right, the dam of Miesque! There is something a little tragic about Matiara and River Lady and one must hope that the beloved Azeri escapes their ‘curse’.
The Three-Quarter Brothers
Sharpman, owned by Sir Charles Clore, was a son of the incomparable Sharpen Up. He won a minor stake at two and at three, he placed in both the French 2000 Guineas and Derby. In the Prix du Jockey Club (won by Top Ville), his courage was on display for all to see, as he ran third on a shattered cannon bone.
Though his death does not show up on our printouts, Sharpman sired only four crops of 144 foals. From that small sampling, he got 78% starters, 49% winners, 4% stakes winners and 7% stakes placed runners. His best runner was Glaros (GR), who won the Group 2 Prix Noailles in France then won stakes on both coasts in the U. S., the G2 Tidal Handicap at Belmont and the Henry P. Russell Handicap at Santa Anita. Sadly, this wonderful horse ended up in Montana where he is less than likely to ever see a decent Thoroughbred mare.
A sampling of Sharpman’s other runners include Group 3 winner =Princesse du Bourg, Group 3 placed colt =Manific (FR) and the tough filly =Elisharp (FR). Sharpman did quite well as a broodmare sire, given his limited opportunities, leading that list in Germany in 1995 when his daughter =Laurea (IRE) had out the wonderful Lando (GER) who won Group 1 races in Germany, Italy and Japan.
Among the other major winners out of Sharpman daughters are Hero’s Pride, out of the above-named Elisharp (FR), who ran second in the G2 All Along Stakes in the U. S. in 1997; Lady Blessington, out of the Sharpman daughter Lady Sharp (FR) who won that same race in 1993. In addition, Lando’s half brother =Laroche by =Nebos also won the German Derby (in 1994). Finally, there is the champion Belgian miler Egoiste by Sicyos out of Sharpman’s daughter Reine des Fleurs (FR). All this from just 64 producing daughters!
Sanglamore was 11 years Sharpman’s junior but was nonetheless his three-quarter brother. Both were by Sharpen Up and while Sharpman was out of Miss Manon, Sanglamore had Miss Manon as his second dam.
Sanglamore was bred by and raced for Juddmonte Farms and he is still living. Less precocious than Sharpman, Sanglamore was a champion at four in England when he was Group 1 placed. His his two Group 1 wins, the Prix du Jockey Club and Prix D’Ispahan occurred in his classic season in France and for some reason did not warrant the same recognition.
As a sire, Sanglamore has sired 15 small crops (averaging about 25 foals each). Of those horses, 61% started, 33% won, 2% won stakes and another 1% were stakes placed.
His best runners were the Italian champion filly Head Office; the Group 2 winning filly Lexa who also won the Grade 2 Buena Vista Handicap at Santa Anita and the New Zealand sire Le Paillard (IRE) who won a small stake in France and placed in the Grade 1 San Juan Capistrano in the United States.
As a broodmare sire, Sanglamore’s daughters have gotten a couple of good runners, including Fidelite (IRE) who on the Group 1 Prix Saint-Alary in France and the Cheveley Park Stud Criterion S. (G3) winner Silver Touch. It is early, but his bloodline appears to be less strong than his older brother who got more quality with fewer chances.
Kiri’s Clown and Sillery
When Kiri’s Clown first went to stud in 1997, we wrote the following in Pedlines: “Kiri’s Clown is a G1 winner and placed in three more G1 races. He is one of the last of the ‘real’ Foolish Pleasures, a stallion that is carrying on nicely via Marfa. He has a lovely European feel to the bottom half of his pedigree with Sharpen Up, Riverman and *Ribot in the mix. He fits a variety of mares, etc…..” In short, we loved him. And we sincerely hoped he would do well.
Unfortunately, Kiri was just too tough to be commercial, where being strong and sound and consistent seems to work against a horse instead of for him. He started out in Kentucky; he currently stands in Illinois. Sadly – for the breed – he has not sired a stakes winner.
Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Sillery thus stands alone as a possible source of carrying on the family line via the Y chromosome. Unfortunately, however, he stands in California. Thus, like Kiri’s Clown, he is not very likely to see the crème dela crème of mares in a racing environment so far removed from the mainstream.
To date he has sired five crops of 117 foals and just one stake winner, the Italian black type colt Gladiatorus out of a =Kris mare. (Yes, that old Sharpen Up magic is still working).
This family has obviously had its share of fertility issues and even, perhaps, possesses some genetic weaknesses: Too many of the best horses have died young or not produced many foals. Still, as the saying goes, “When you get a good one…..”
Nonetheless, given the family’s problems, we cannot in good conscience suggest that you inbreed to it at this point in time. What we can suggest, however, is that you add as much Sharpen Up blood as your heart desires. The progeny of the Tulip family have shown a tendency to lie dormant (as with Azeri’s branch) and then suddenly pop up and produce a horse that makes time stand still. When Shakespeare wrote, “My kingdom for a horse”, he might well have been thinking of her.
A Classic Line
For its ability to produce classic horses in all countries, Tulip thus becomes the newest Reine-de-Course. Other members of her tribe to come along for the ride are Miss Glasso, Franconia (AUS), Miss Molly, Miss Manon (FR), and Miss Summer (IRE). Let’s hope we’ll add Azeri to this list in the future. She personified the word Thoroughbred; may her foals do so as well.