Most breeders have fantasies about buying a mare, or claiming one, establishing her as their foundation matron and building a dynasty on her roots. For the average breeder, the fantasies remain just that – fantasies. But for Warren Wright of Calumet Farm, fantasies frequently became realities.
Wright liked performance in his prospective broodmares and it was with performance rather than pedigree in mind that he purchased the Kentucky Oaks winner Two Bob from her owner, Mrs. Emil Denemark in September of 1940.
Two Bob had won her Kentucky Oaks for breeder C. V. Whitney and prior to her classic success had once raced for a claiming tag as low as $3,500. The Oaks was, in fact, her first stakes win and given her pedigree such a win was hardly expected.
Two Bob was a daughter of The Porter, a horse who himself had once run for a claiming tag but who developed into a good handicap runner with limitations of both class and stamina. As a sire, he began his career under a cloud as his owner’s land was found to lack lime and phosphate, causing many of the horses raised there to have soundness problems. By the time The Porter was “rescued” by John Hay Whitney, he was 17.
At Whitney’s stud he was bred to the *Chicle mare Blessings, who did not win until she was four years of age, to produce Two Bob. Blessings herself produced little else of note and her dam, Mission Bells by Friar Rock, was a juvenile winner who produced several winners though none of any appreciable class. Third dam Sanctuary by *Broomstick, was also a moderate producer.
How good a student of pedigree Warren Wright really was has never been commented on much in the various histories written of Calumet Farm. Instead, Bull Lea’s success and the ultimate downfall of the farm seem to earn center stage.
What is really not mentioned often enough, however, is that Bull Lea might not have made the sire he did had it not been for the quality of mares bred to him by Calumet. In fact more than 62% of Bull Lea’s stakes winners were bred by his owner.
If Warren Wright had been looking at Two Bob’s pedigree, this is what he might have seen: Although there is a variety of inbreeding, the most potent fairly jumps off the page – crossing Two Bob to Bull Lea would place the half brother and sister Ballot and Ballet Girl in the pedigree of the resultant foal 4 x 4. Also in the 4 x 4 position would be the great sire Spearmint, sex-balanced through his outstanding daughter Plucky Liege and his son *Chicle.
*Chicle is a minor story himself. Bred by H. P. Whitney, *Chicle won the Dwyer Stakes and became an outstanding broodmare sire. His daughters include Mother Goose, ancestress of Northern Dancer and Halo; Goose Egg, dam of Shut Out; Panay, dam of Free For All, in turn sire of Rough’N Tumble; and of course, Blessings, dam of Two Bob.
So whether Warren Wright studied the pedigree aspects of how suitable Two Bob was for his great sire, the result was a very potent mixture of Derby winner Hermit; the great Australian sire Musket whose best son Carbine appears twice through Spearmint and whose great broodmare sire son Trenton appears in the bottom half of Bull Lea’s own pedigree; and St. Simon, who appears three times. All this plus Two Bob’s own contribution of a sex-balanced Himyar cross and a double of Ben Brush not to mention the already stated Spearmint/Ballot-Ballet Girl meld!
So just what did this cross produce that leads the foals to reside in the exultant realm of mares like Nellie Flag and Almahmoud? Only three stakes winners, all stakes producers, and two of the very highest class.
The first daughter of Bull Lea and Two Bob was the least talented upon the course but would become the best broodmare. Foaled in 1942, this daughter was named Twosy and she was a tough (52 starts) though hardly brilliant racemare, who won $101,375 while annexing such minor stakes as the Colonial Handicap and Sagamore Stakes. She also placed in more important races like the Arlington Lassie and Matron.
As a broodmare, Twosy was a treasure. Her Ponder daughter Twice Over was purchased by Preston Madden of Hamburg Place and it is her branch which has flourished. Twice Over’s T. V. Lark daughter Miss Carmie was a minor stakes winner who became an absolutely glorious producer.
Twice Over’s daughters include Triple Crown winning filly Chris Evert, herself dam of champion Chief’s Crown and All Rainbows, dam of Kentucky Derby winning filly Winning Colors. Other of her major descendents include Test Stakes winner Missed The Storm and Frizette Stakes winner Classic Crown. This is a branch of Two Bob’s family which has a serious future to go with its checkered past.
Two Bob’s greatest racing daughter by Bull Lea was the marvelous Two Lea, who was a champion at four and five in 1949 and 1950. Frequently raced against males, Two Lea was a bull dog of a competitor, pinning the ears of her male rivals in the Hollywood Gold Cup and San Mateo Handicap as well as running second in the Santa Anita Maturity (now the Strub Stakes).
Two Lea ran only half as many times as Twosy, but she won $309,250, which tells the true story of her class as she was racing in the early 1950’s. Considering that she was sometimes referred to as a more masculine version of her older full sister, it is not surprising that Two Lea’s sons were markedly superior to her daughters.
Her son Tim Tam won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness of 1958, but he won more than that. Described as having a “serpentine grace” Tim Tam, a son of Tom Fool, remained as graceful – and as kind – until the day he died. Many who did not see his attempt at the Triple Crown cannot know what the final yards of the Belmont Stakes must have cost him.
Sent off favored for the race, Tim Tam made what appeared to be a winning move turning for home, but in the stretch – though he continued to race on – it was apparent to anyone not a rank amateur that all was not well. Tim Tam sometimes bore in, sometimes out, but not during a single foot of that long, forbidding stretch did he run straight.
Tim Tam pulled up lame that day, and Milo Valenzuela dismounted. The horse was loaded into a van and immediately returned to his stall where X-rays showed that he had fractured a sesamoid in his right front ankle. Tim Tam had run the last quarter mile of the Belmont on heart alone.
As might be expected of a horse bred on a Tom Fool/Bull Lea cross, Tim Tam became an excellent broodmare sire. Unfortunately, he left no important sons when he died on July 30, 1982. Among his daughters best produce are Tentam, Life’s Hope, Known Fact, and champions Davona Dale; Mac Diarmida and Before Dawn.
Two Lea foaled other stakes winners On-And-On (broodmare sire of Alydar) and Pied D’Or as well as the good producer Mon Ange, dam of Tarboosh, himself sire of champion turf filly Just A Game. But when Two Lea is mentioned, it is Tim Tam’s name which most frequently comes to mind and the memory of his courage has forever written his dam’s name in history.
The last of Two Bob’s major Bull Lea daughters was the 1951 filly Miz Clementine. A better racehorse than Twosy, Miz Clementine defeated colts in the California Derby and in all won 16 races and $267,100.
Her most important contribution to the studbook is the Swaps mare Sweet Clementine. Sweet Clementine is the dam of major winner and sire Best Turn (sire of Cox’s Ridge) and Honeysuckle Vine, dam of multiple stakes winner Miss Tokyo. Her branch of the family is dwindling and it is hoped that one of her relatives soon re-establishes this fragile link to Two Bob to bring the family up to the standard of Two Lea and Twosy.
In all Two Bob produced seven foals, all winners, the three stakes winning full sisters, and one stakes placed horse, Bob Away by Whirlaway. An overall excellent record for a mare infinitely suited to the top sire who begat her three outstanding daughters.
So in essence, unless Warren Wright was more of a pedigree student than we have been led to believe, Two Bob was purchased solely because she won the Kentucky Oaks and just happened to fit Bull Lea as well as she did. While such a coincidence strains the credulity of pedigree students, of such chance was much of Thoroughbred history made.
There are plenty of Two Bob’s relatives around to inbreed to and one excellent product of inbreeding to her was tragic classic winner Prairie Bayou, who had the full sisters Miz Clementine and Two Lea 5 x 5 in his pedigree. Prairie Bayou was, in his way, as much a classic representative of Two Bob as Winning Colors or Tim Tam.
For the time being, Two Bob and her daughters Twosy and Two Lea as well as granddaughter Twice Over and great-granddaughter Miss Carmie are the new additions to the Reine-de-Course list. Hopefully, we will one day be returning to this family to add Miz Clementine should a revival of her branch occur.