Sometimes the breeders of Thoroughbreds have pedigrees with as much history in the sport as the horses themselves, and that is surely the case with Emory Hamilton, breeder of Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby winner Verrazano. Hamilton's grandfather, Robert J. Kleberg Jr., was head of the immense King Ranch operation that spread around the globe.
In racing history, Kleberg is most noted for breeding and racing 1946 Triple Crown winner Assault (by Bold Venture), and King Ranch had purchased the champion's sire after Bold Venture's victories in the 1936 Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
Bold Venture, a son of English Derby second St. Germans, proved a huge success for King Ranch, siring Kentucky Derby and Belmont winner Middleground, as well as Gazelle Stakes winner On Your Own, a full sister to Assault. Unfortunately, Bold Venture also passed along “St. Germans's problem” of erratic fertility.
The sterility of classic winners Twenty Grand and Assault, combined with the faint fertility of other top members of the line, condemned this branch of the great Blandford line to a lingering death that impoverished breeding of one source of stamina and high-class toughness. The members, such as Bold Venture, who had acceptable fertility, were really good stock, however, and gave breeders such as King Ranch classic ammunition for their home-breeding programs.
In addition to his breeding successes, Kleberg was known for acquiring premium bloodstock when available, and he was one of the three breeders in the late 1940s who bought all the broodmares and stallions from Col. E.R. Bradley's Idle Hour Stock Farm, along with Ogden Phipps and John Hay Whitney of Greentree Stable.
About 50 years ago, Kleberg purchased French highweight Monade, who had shown her athletic ability as the winner of the 1962 English Oaks and Prix Vermeille, as well as with a cracking second-place finish in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.
An elegant mare by the top French stallion Klairon, Monade was a tip-top racemare. Her purchase was a mixed blessing for King Ranch, however, as she was not equally successful as a broodmare. But Kleberg believed in breeding to horses with speed and racing class, and among Monade's mates was the great Horse of the Year Dr. Fager (Rough'n Tumble).
The resulting foal was Remedia, a bay born in 1971 who proved above average in racing class, although she did not become a stakes winner.
Retired to the King Ranch broodmare band, Remedia was a much better (or luckier) producer than her dam and has helped to spread this family through top-class racing with multiple generations of stakes winners and producers. Her lovely Blushing Groom daughter Too Chic was an important producer too, and the latter's daughter, G1 winner Chic Shirine (Ashland Stakes), is the second dam of the Tampa Bay Derby winner.
Emory Hamilton bred Chic Shirine after purchasing Too Chic for $100,000 from King Ranch's consignment at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling sale in 1980. Too Chic was a G1 winner and track record holder at Belmont Park for 1 1/16 miles and produced seven winners from 10 foals. Chic Shirine was one of the best 3-year-old fillies of 1987, winning the Ashland and finishing third in the Mother Goose.
Her full sister Queena (both by Mr. Prospector) proved a bit more on the racetrack and was elected champion older mare. Both have been stellar producers. Chic Shirine produced a pair of G2 winners: Waldoboro (True North) and Tara Roma (Ladies Handicap), both by the Northern Dancer stallion Lyphard.
Chic Shirine produced Verrazano's dam, the Giant's Causeway mare Enchanted Rock, at the age of 20. Enchanted Rock made only a single start and retired unplaced.
The breeder must have seen something in the filly's training, however, because she was sent to the proven sire Pulpit, and her first foal was G2 winner El Padrino. Verrazano, by the internationally prominent sire More Than Ready, is the mare's second foal and second graded winner.
Enchanted Rock has a 2-year-old filly by Pulpit's top son Tapit that is named La Madrina and has a yearling filly by Pulpit.
More Than Ready, the sire of Verrazano, was a top juvenile in 1999 and a classic prospect the following year.
Earlier this year, More Than Ready and other Vinery stallions moved to WinStar Farm, where his stud fee is $60,000 live foal.
Frank Mitchell is author of Racehorse Breeding Theories, as well as the book Great Breeders and Their Methods: The Hancocks. In addition to writing the column “Sires and Dams” in Daily Racing Form for nearly 15 years, he has contributed articles to Thoroughbred Daily News, Thoroughbred Times, Thoroughbred Record, International Thoroughbred, and other major publications. In addition, Frank is a private consultant to breeders on pedigrees, matings, and conformation. He is a hands-on caretaker of his own broodmares and foals in central Kentucky. Check out Frank's lively Bloodstock in the Bluegrass blog.
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