Once in a rare while a great stallion will come along who truly seems to defy explanation. However, if one simply takes the time to study the animal, his strengths will be apparent.
We have been able to debunk every “sport” from *Princequillo to Danzig, but for a very long time, Hoist the Flag and his dam Wavy Navy seemed to elude us. Finally, we think we have a handle on this family and are able to add it to the Reine-de-Course list with confidence, something we’ve wanted to do for a very long time.
We were also moved to take another look at Wavy Navy due to the second place finish of Central City in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. He is a direct descendent of the best daughter branch of this line, Trim and Tidy.
The Great Son
Hoist the Flag, however, is this family’s flagship runner and was thus well-named. A one-of-a-kind horse who won all six of his races (though he was disqualified from his Champagne S. win) he was considered a real threat to win the 1971 Triple Crown. And he was on target for a bid in the Kentucky Derby when he broke his right hind leg in a workout at Belmont Park, a breakdown so severe he nearly lost his life.
Hoist the Flag had been sold by breeder John M. Schiff as a yearling to Mrs. Stephen C. Clark, Jr., at Saratoga for just $37,000. His low price was attributed to an eye injury that put off buyers. Mrs. Clark would love Flag to the end and flew to New York to be at his side when he was injured.
Those of you who wish to read the entire story of Hoist the Flag can do so in Peter Chew’s excellent book The Kentucky Derby, The First 100 Years. The chapter devoted to Flag is titled “Dr. Jenny’s Masterpiece” in deference to Dr. Jacques Jenny, the veterinarian who operated on Flag while waging his own battle with cancer, and saved him for stud. Bring Kleenex.
Hoist the Flag was no walk in the park as either a patient or a stallion. A throwback to his grandsire *Ribot, he could be nasty to the point of viciousness. Yet we saw for ourselves what else he could be – aware of the very old and very young – when our eight-year-old daughter crawled up on his fence before we could say, “Be careful,” and he dropped his nose to allow her to pat him, never turning a hair. On another occasion, we watched an elderly man, bent with age touch an arthritic hand to his face as the stallion stood utterly still.
Sent to stud at Claiborne Farm, Flag only lived nine more years, to the age of 12 before another fracture, this time of his left forearm, ended his life. Worse than it appeared at first, surgery did no good and the bright little bay’s light was extinguished for all time, but not before making a truly remarkable dent in the record books including double appearances in the pedigrees of two individual Breeders’ Cup Classic winners, Volponi and Zenyatta.
Wavy Navy was bred by banker and Boy Scouts of American national president John M. Schiff from the imported Tourbillon mare *Triomphe. This tail-female line, Family 5-i traces to the British mare Diversion, via the Madame Eglantine branch. This family line also gave us two other important sires – years apart though they may have been – Macaroni and Sharpen Up. Another highly recognizable name in the line is 1957 French Derby winner Vacarme.
(To give one a relatable idea of how ‘closely’ related Sharpen Up and Hoist the Flag are, Madame Eglantine is the 11th dam of the former, and the 12th of Hoist the Flag).
Wavy Navy was a daughter of Man o’ War’s Triple Crown winning son War Admiral and she won two races but earned no black type. Her dam *Triomphe, bred in France by M. Laboure, had proven her toughness by winning on the flat (the Prix Godolphin) as well as over fences, the now G1 New York Turf Writers Handicap being one of her victories.
*Triomphe was by Frizette’s classic winning Chef-de-Race descendent Tourbillon, a Herod line horse who received an extra double of Herod from Wavy Navy’s second dam, Melibee. Melibee was by St. Leger winner Firdaussi (to whom the glorious runner and sire *Herbager was inbred) and her dam, Metairie was 2 x 2 to Cadet Roussel, a Herod-line horse (Chambertin-Le Sancy-Atlantic-Thormanby-Windhound-Pantaloon-Castrel-Buzzard-Woodpecker) who won the Prix Edgard de la Charme, Prix Ganay and Prix Miss Gladiator.
The sum total of Wavy Navy’s female contribution was, therefore, largely French and filled with stamina, as well as being hugely important as a Herod contribution/influence.
That Hoist the Flag was by a stamina-line horse (Tom Rolfe by *Ribot) and from such stout roots and yet was himself precocious points us to a unique inbreeding pattern within the body of Wavy Navy’s pedigree, that of Domino to his half sister Lady Reel. Flag also picked up speed from Roman and *Sickle in his sire’s pedigree.
He therefore represents what is known as a “zig-zag” pattern, which is to say his grandsire *Ribot and sire Tom Rolfe were largely stamina influences, he was speedier, and his best son, Alleged reverted to type and became a stamina type as well.
Hoist The Flag’s Influence Today
At present, it is nearly impossible to find male-line ancestors of Hoist the Flag. There is a handful in regional markets, but nothing of real impact.
Alleged, his best racing son emulated his paternal great-grandsire *Ribot in winning the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe twice. He died in 2000 and got a decent sire son in Irish Derby winner Law Society, but he did not really establish a strong enough link to keep up with popular speed lines and is almost non-existent in American pedigrees.
Others like the brilliant Stalwart (sire of the very tough Stalwars) and the racing abused Hoist the Silver (sire of Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Very Subtle) did not manage to do well as sires of stallions either. Blue Ensign established a useful branch in South America via Firery Ensign but when the final chapter is written, it might well be tough regional sire Pirate’s Bounty, always a solid force in California that was the most consistent of his direct sons in America.
While his male line is waning, Flag’s overall influence in important sires’ pedigrees is quite another matter. To mention only the top few runners out of his daughters, we have horses like Personal Ensign (whose son Our Emblem sired Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem), Broad Brush, an outstanding runner and leading sire; and Cryptoclearance, another excellent sire and runner and the sire of Belmont winner Victory Gallop, Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Volponi and paternal grandsire of hot young stallion Candy Ride.
Find this shooting star of a horse today in the pedigrees of too many good horses to count, including Street Cry, Mineshaft, Catienus and the few offspring left by the late champion War Pass who died this spring. (War Pass will leave behind only two crops in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.) Then of course, Flag appears twice in pedigree of Zenyatta, who is nearly certain to make a notable contribution.
The Bottom Line
In a world gone mad for huge books in two hemispheres, Hoist the Flag’s sheer quality is worth noting. His statistics from just 255 foals as a sire of runners are 76% starters, 60% winners, 20% stakes winners, 11% stakes placed and an AEI of 3.90 vs. a 3.51 CI for his mares!
As a broodmare sire represented by 926 foals of racing age, Flag has 76% starters, 57% winners, 9% stakes winners, 8% stakes placed for an AEI of 2.98 vs. a CI of 1.74 in his mates’ offspring by other sires. By any standard, he was a true giant of the breed.
The Forgotten Son
Five years before the birth of Hoist the Flag, Wavy Navy had produced her first stakes winner, San Marcos and Discovery Handicap winner Deck Hand, by *Mahmoud-line Cohoes. Cohoes was also the sire of Belmont winner Quadrangle, best known perhaps for siring champion Susan’s Girl.
Deck Hand was also bred by John M. Schiff and he was sound enough to run 80 times. He had most of his success in California where he won the San Marcos and Pomona Handicaps, and placed in the San Gabriel, Tanforan, Cortez, Escondido and San Luis Obispo Handicaps.
At stud he sired only 209 foals from 13 crops. As might be expected, he got soundness (88% starters) and quite a bit less quality (69% winners, 3% stakes winners, 3% stakes placed). His top three earners, Hand Creme; Designer Miss and Soft Focus, all were females and sadly he never got a sire son to carry on.
His daughters produced toughness, too (79% starters) and a bit of quality (7% stakes winners, 2% stakes placed). Among the best out of his daughters were Chief Steward, a $345,339 stakes winner by Chieftain who ran well principally in Florida in the late 1980’s and Del Dun Gee, a filly by Bold Dun-Cee who won four stakes and placed in six others in the Midwest around the same time. His excellent racemare Hand Crème got the very good Water Bank horse Run On the Bank who stood in Northern California for a time, but he was never popular with breeders who failed to recognize what a notable contribution he might have made when crossed with Pirate’s Bounty mares.
The bottom line is that Deck Hand came along too early and spent too much time in California to be a force in pedigrees. Today it is no small miracle that we can find him at all outside of a few regional mares. But he can in fact be found via one major source, the A. P. Indy son Majestic Warrior who stands at Coolmore. His fourth dam, Deck Stewardess, is a daughter of Deck Hand. We’ll be watching to see how much, if any, Hoist the Flag he encounters as his career takes hold. His first crop will race in 2012.
Major Daughter Line
While technically there are several live daughter branches of Wavy Navy, only one – Trim and Tidy by *Sea-Bird – is really very strong.
The three others: Off Bounds by *Court Martial; Pitch and Roll by Jet Action and Structural (a full sister to Hoist the Flag by Tom Rolfe) exist either in the Southern Hemisphere or minor regional markets. If one could find some decent Structural blood it would be fascinating. But the only black type under her at present is Mexican and/or in very tiny provincial stakes.
Trim and Tidy illustrates that Wavy Navy was bred almost exclusively to stamina. Her sire, *Sea-Bird, was an Epsom Derby and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner who gave us an early indication of how unsound Native Dancer was (he was by his son, Dan Cupid) by making only eight starts. In the U. S. he got horses like Little Current who were basically pretty plodders and his tail-male line expired with nary a whimper (or a tear for that matter). He did much better abroad with such grand runners as Allez France, Gyr and Arctic Tern.
During his brief time on the course he was considered an enormously good runner and was greatly respected until he died in France, where his remains were found in a slaughterhouse. A very good broodmare sire, his daughters produced 71 stakes winners including champion Assert, Bikala, Miss Oceana and the grand King’s Swan.
Trim and Tidy was unplaced at the races, but she proved an excellent broodmare. A true monster of fertility, she produced 17 foals, 10 of which won, with two stakes winners Sussex Handicap winner Bold Navy, a colt by Tentam and Trim Colony, winner of the Santa Ysabel Stakes, a filly by Pleasant Colony.
Two others, Soigneuse, a three-quarter sister to Hoist the Flag by Tom Rolfe, and Tidy Colony, a colt by Pleasant Colony were stakes placed.
Trim Colony has an active branch with stakes placed winners and producers Trim Cut and Polish Legacy; Soigneuse produced stakes winner Quilesse, a stakes winner in France who in turn got stakes placed Holy Conflict by Lord At War.
At present it is two winning daughters of Trim and Tidy which look the best on paper. Fleet Cherokee, a daughter of Cherokee Colony, is the second dam of the previously mentioned Central City as well as stakes placed My Best Pal Red. Tidy Tune by The Minstrel has three stakes horses to her credit in the Midwest, all minor, though her daughter Dancing Monarch by Wavering Monarch, has two stakes winners, a stakes placed horse and a stakes producer in Red Ruby.
Several mares which have yet to produce stakes horses stand out, none more than Pomme Duchesse, a 1996 daughter of Alleged out of Soigneuse. This mare is 2 x 2 to three-quarter siblings Hoist the Flag and Soigneuse (or 3 x 4 to Wavy Navy if you prefer). She has produced a couple of winners but has youngsters yet to run by Afleet Alex, who is doing well and who adds some speed via his Raise a Native male line plus a cross of Chieftain, the Bold Ruler half brother to Tom Rofle who appears twice in Pomme Duchesse’s lineage.
Central City, the horse of the moment, has us quite excited. Not only does he display an excellent x2 Somethingroyal (Secretariat/Sir Gaylord at 4 x 6) and x2 Dark Display (Solar Display/Battlefield at 6 x 6) pattern, but his stakes placed half sibling My Best Pal Red is also Storm Cat line and thus gives him the same pattern.
The icing on the cake is that there are two fillies – one a yearling one a just-turned two-year-old – by Storm Cat’s son With Distinction, bred on this same cross, and With Distinction is from the great family of Lady Be Good as a kicker. These two fillies are the first females produced by Apache Dancer, whose second dam is Trim and Tidy. This is a branch that is already successful and now has two possible daughters bred on the right kind of cross. This could well be the salvation of the Wavy Navy female line, but we’ve got our eye on Pomme Duchesse’s Afleet Alex offspring, too, but only the yearling is a filly in this case.
So it is time to draw a bottom line for Wavy Navy. And for now it is rather obvious that it is she and Trim and Tidy only that will be named from this branch of 5-I as Reines-de-Course. It is our sincere hope, however, that anyone out there holding little sprigs of this family tree in regional markets pays attention and tries inbreeding to the family or at minimum trying established patterns like adding more *Ribot and then adding speed.
Hoist the Flag alone made this family special. Trim and Tidy always looked like she might one day balance his influence. We think that time has come.