“TAIL-MALE, Part Two”
Whose Tail-Male Line Is It, Anyway?
They all start with the three foundation sires of the breed, but who these days considers the Bold Ruler line, the Northern Dancer line, the Hail To Reason line (by *Turn-To, by *Royal Charger, by – you guessed it - *Nearco), and the Caro(Ire)/Cozzene/With Approval/Blushing Groom (FR)/Rahy/ Mill Reef/Riverman “lines”, all descendents of Nearco’s son *Nasrullah, to be the same line?
The Herod (Byerly Turk) line comes closest to extinction these days; if you search, a few Herod line sires can still be found – not many – in South America and Europe. Names you might recognize are Bois Roussel (a chef-de-race), *Djebel, and *My Babu (damsire of Damascus). The last truly successful Herod-line sire in the United States was the French-bred *Ambiorix, a leading sire in the 1950-1960’s, sire of Belmont Stakes winner Amberoid, champion filly High Voltage (later a major producer of stakes winners for the Phipps family), and others. The line was already disappearing when Crozier appeared: he was a top-class racehorse and a very good sire, whose foals included champion sprinter Precisionist, in relatively few crops.
Precisionist, a strikingly handsome horse of tremendous racing ability, was the great hope of a Herod-line revival upon his retirement to stud. Unfortunately, he proved to be almost completely sterile – and there were no other contemporary Herod line sires with the credentials to attract the quality of mares that Precisionist could have.
The Matchem (Godolphin Arabian) line has fared a bit better. Several “varieties” of it survive around the world, not all descendents of Man o’War, although most are; one exception was Sheshoon, sire of Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner in the 1970’s (and successful sire) Sassafras. It’s the Man o’War line that has the most currently active sires, however.
Man o’War’s sire Fair Play was a spectacularly successful stallion: In addition to Man o’War he sired Display (sire of Discovery, the broodmare sire of Bold Ruler) and many other high class offspring. Discovery was moderately successful at stud, though his claim to fame is as the “grandfather” of the Bold Ruler line: Think about it – without Fair Play, via Display, via Discovery, we would have no Bold Ruler, no Seattle Slew, no A.P. Indy…you get the picture.
Man o’War, though, was the star. Voted (American) “Horse of the Century,” he was one of the most spectacular and memorable racehorses of all time, setting numerous world records and winning races by as much as an estimated 100 lengths. He was also a remarkably successful sire, which sometimes is forgotten since surprisingly few of his sons became successful at stud. In his early stud career, he sired championship-quality sons left and right: Mars, Crusader, and American Flag were all championship level (and if races had been graded in the 1920’s, would all be multiple Grade I winners), his daughters Bateau, Edith Cavell, and Florence Nightengale each won the Coaching Club American Oaks, the premier 3yof filly race of the era, and there were many others. As broodmares, his daughters were described as “a law unto themselves,” as so many produced high quality stakes-winning offspring, even if they themselves hadn’t done well on the track.
His star had begun to wane in the late 1930’s, when it was revived with a bang in 1937, a year in which his sons won the American Triple Crown (War Admiral), the Grand National Steeplechase (Battleship), and even the Hunter championship at the National Horse Show in Madison Square Garden (Holystone); and the top older horse in the country, Seabiscuit, was a tail-male grandson (by Man o’War’s son Hard Tack).
War Admiral went on to become a very successful sire in his own right, siring (female) Horse of the Year Busher, the ill-fated 2yo champion Blue Peter, top filly Bee Mac, and other fine racers. However, none of his sons had any particular success at stud. His daughters, however, were another story, and War Admiral is considered one of the top broodmare sires of all time. His daughters produced, among others, Champion 2yo Filly/Champion Sprinter and super-broodmare Affectionately, Kentucky Derby winner Swaps, as well as Horse of the Year Buckpasser and Hoist The Flag, both top sires.
The son who has carried on the Man o’War-Fair Play (and thus the Matchem) line was War Relic, Man o’War’s last really top quality stakes-winning son. Never a champion, War Relic was still ranked among the best of his crop. His sons included Relic, a top sire in France (sire of good American sire Olden Times, and broodmare sire of Reliance [FR]), and the mildly successful racehorse Intent, sire of one good son – but what a son! The black (yes, a rare, true black) Intentionally was a strong contender for Champion 2yo of his year, and later became a champion sprinter.
Intentionally made a brilliant start at stud. In only a very few crops, he sired Tentam (top-class turf horse), champion filly Desert Bloom, whose full brother Valid Appeal became a successful sire, and In Reality, a tough competitor ranked near the top of his year. Tentam’s stud career was cut short, but not until he’d sired some solid stakes winners; Valid Appeal is the sire of several successful sons at stud, including Successful Appeal in Kentucky (currently ranked in the top 10 of active sires by Average Earnings Index), and Valid Expectations in Texas, among others.
In Reality, who lived to a ripe old age, was the most successful son of Intentionally. He has sired many quality stakes winners, and is also highly successful as a broodmare sire, considered to be a “nick” with Northern Dancer and Raise A Native line stallions. His own sons include successful European sire Known Fact (sire of Warning); Believe It (3rd ranked colt of his year, below only Affirmed and Alydar), broodmare sire of Kentucky Derby winner Real Quiet, as well as a number of stakes winners in his own right; and Relaunch, sire of two Breeders Cup winners including Skywalker (sire of Bertrando, sire of Officer, who is rated in the top 5 of current real life third crop sires) and many other stakes winners, including Waquoit, winner of 3 Grade I stakes at 1 ½ miles, a rarity these days; Champion Sprinter Honour And Glory; and a stakes-placed son, Cee’s Tizzy, is the sire of Tiznow, Champion 3yo and Older Male and back-to-back winner of the Breeders Cup Classic, who himself sired Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Folklore in his first crop.
Sometimes all it takes to revive a “dying tail-male line” is ONE successful son: the Native Dancer line (of the Eclipse/Darley Arabian line) was being written off early when none of Native Dancer’s highly successful racing sons had produced anything much of note in the United States (his son Dan Cupid, exported to France, had at least sired *Sea-Bird, an Arc winner). Granted, Native Dancer was the broodmare sire of Northern Dancer, thus guaranteeing some peripheral fame. But then along came a son, modestly successful on the track, named Raise A Native. Considered brilliantly fast but terribly unsound, Raise A Native did surprisingly well at stud: Sire of Alydar and Majestic Prince, grandsire of Affirmed…and sire of Mr. Prospector.
Are we full circle? It’s hard to tell. Seattle Slew “revived” the Bold Ruler line; Raise A Native “revived” the Native Dancer line; In Reality “revived” the Man o’War line. Is another “line” due for a revival? If so, whose? Much of “fashionable” breeding these days seems to utilize fewer and fewer stallion lines, but that’s frequently been the case. Is Mr. Prospector an “outcross”? He’s a descendent of Nearco’s sire Pharos, via Pharos’ son *Sickle. Or is *Ribot (via Graustark/His Majesty/Cormorant/Grindstone) an outcross? He’s a descendent of *Sickle’s full brother, *Pharamond II.
In some ways, it just depends on where you decide to start and stop counting tails.