By Frank Mitchell
With his game victory in the Grade 1 Whitney Stakes, Blame widened and deepened the breeder base that will support him when the colt goes to stud at Claiborne Farm, which is the co-owner and co-breeder of the 4-year-old with Adele Dilschneider.
By the Claiborne stallion Arch, Blame (click here for his pedigree) is from the famous female family of Rough Shod, renowned for producing stallions, including such stars as Nureyev and Sadler's Wells.
One peculiarity of this family's fame is that Claiborne bred several major stars from the family, including European champions Thatch and Apalachee, as well as Nureyev and the dam of Sadler's Wells, but the historic Kentucky farm has stood only one high-end stallion from this family.
That horse was the grand-looking bay Ridan, the second of Rough Shod's four stakes winners. The others were Ridan's younger full siblings Lt. Stevens and champion Moccasin, as well as their half-sister Gambetta (the dam of champion Gamely for whom William Haggin Perry's Gamely Corp. was named).
Ridan was bred by Thomas Girdler, president of Republic Steel and a longtime Claiborne client who sold the colt to Moody Jolley and then sold Ridan's dam and half-sister Gambetta to Claiborne in early 1961.
Racing for Jolley and partners Ernest Woods and John Greer, Ridan was unbeaten at 2, won the Florida Derby and Blue Grass at 3, and started favorite in the Kentucky Derby (finishing third) and the Preakness (second).
The combination of Ridan's dominating personality and outstanding speed made the big bay a favorite with racing fans, and when retired to stud, Ridan enjoyed some success at Claiborne, with 31 stakes winners (9%), and his best American-raced offspring might have been Favorecidian (John B. Campbell Handicap) before the stallion's export to stand in Europe.
The recommendation in Bull Hancock's will that returned Claiborne-bred yearlings to the sales ring after 20 years as a home-breeding operation put some of the best stock from this family up for auction as yearlings, including Apalachee and Gamely's son Cellini, both Group 1 winners in England.
And the big-race successes from horses from this family helped fuel European demand for American-bred stock to a fever pitch.
In addition to the foals out of Moccasin, interest was very high for those of her full sister Thong, who did not win a stakes race but did run second in the Alcibiades at Keeneland.
A year younger than her champion sister, Thong produced an even better series of performers than Moccasin. Thong's second foal was Thatch (by Forli), winner of the July Cup, Sussex Stakes, and St James's Palace; her third was Lisadell (Forli), winner of the Coronation Stakes; fourth was King Pellinore (Round Table), second in the Irish Derby and the St Leger at Doncaster, winner of the Champions Invitational and Oak Tree Invitational in the States; and fifth was the very aggressive Maryinsky (Northern Dancer), who finished first in record time for the July Cup but was disqualified to second for trying to eat the competition and then banned permanently from racing in England.
Thong's first foal was a filly with much better manners. Named Special, she was by Forli and a full sister to Thatch and Lisadell. Special raced once, bled, was retired and bred.
Seth Hancock once told me that he might have sold Special as a first foal who didn't accomplish anything on the track, except for the fact that people at the track told him “she can really run.”
Retained for the Claiborne broodmare band as part of its partnership with the Gamely Corp., Special produced foals initially for the commercial market, and among those was her second foal, the Bold Reason mare Fairy Bridge (later dam of Sadler's Wells and Fairy King) and her third foal, a small but beautifully balanced and dynamic little bay who sold for $1 million at the Keeneland July sale.
Later named Nureyev, he never finished behind another horse but was disqualified from first in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket for interference.
By the time that Special produced her fifth and seventh foals, Claiborne had returned to breeding and racing its own stock and kept the mare's two other graded stakes winners, Number and Bound, both by English Triple Crown winner Nijinsky.
Bound, a smaller and typier mare than her full sister, produced beautiful yearlings, and when she sold at the Gamely Corp. dispersal in January 1998, Bound topped the sale at $2.2 million, going to Coolmore. For the Irish organization this family has helped so much, Bound foaled her best runner, international star Archipenko (by Kingmambo), when she was 20.
One of her earlier good performers was the Seeking the Gold mare Liable, who had enough talent to finish second and third in listed company.
As a broodmare, however, Liable has done better and has produced two stakes winners from four foals. Blame is notably the best so far. The mare has a 2-year-old full sister to the Whitney winner named Might and has a filly of 2010 by Tiznow.
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