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August 20, 1956
A portfolio of champions and some news of an expanding sport
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August 20, 1956

Sires, Sales And The Challenge

A portfolio of champions and some news of an expanding sport

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In view of the general rule of thumb that great horses can hardly be expected to reproduce themselves, Man o' War did all right when he sired War Admiral, and War Admiral himself has sired, among others, Busher, the horse of the year in 1945. Similarly the 1930 champion, Gallant Fox, in his first two crops produced the champions Omaha and Granville (the former, pictured on these pages, is now, at 24, retired from stud and turned out for the rest of his days in his adopted state of Nebraska). Omaha was never an outstanding sire and he quickly lost public appeal. Somewhat in the same situation today is 20-year-old Challedon, the pride of Maryland, who twice, in 1939 and 1940, was the horse of the year. Later he sired such stakes winners as Donor and Shy Guy, neither of whom were really good enough to keep the name of Challedon among the foremost fashionable stallions.

Two other former champions on these pages demonstrate still other turns of fate for fine runners. Stymie, who was higher on the leg than the average colt, matured late and wore well. In fact, this amazing racer, bred by the King Ranch and later claimed for $1,500 by Hirsch Jacobs, became the world's leading money winner at the age of 7 when the rest of his generation had long since settled into the life at stud. His best son to date is Joe Jones. Bold Venture, on the other hand—a good example of the sprinting type with his tremendous muscle fore and aft—gained what racing fame he enjoys today solely through a victory in the 1936 Kentucky Derby. He was better as a sire, however, as two of his sons, Assault and Middleground, duplicated that feat and earned considerably more fame besides.

The True Gamble

This week, as the 36th annual Saratoga yearling sales draw to a close, the hundreds of buyers who gather nightly in the sales pavilion will have lots to think about—and plenty of opportunity to buy the best, including a few by some of the former champions already mentioned. For the most part, however, attention will be focused on the progeny of such well-established sires as Nearco, Hyperion, Mahmoud, Heliopolis, Tulyar and Palestine, all of whom are represented in the large consignment of Glenangus Farms. Glenangus Farms is owned by a portly 66-year-old comparative newcomer to breeding by the name of Larry S. MacPhail, who gladly admits, while showing visitors around his barns, that he is the same Larry S. MacPhail who once headed the Cincinnati, Brooklyn and Yankee baseball clubs. Today, with over a million dollars invested in Thoroughbred stock, MacPhail is taking dead aim on the position formerly held secure by A. B. Hancock Sr. and later by Henry Knight as the country's leading market breeder. "There is no unanimity as to what constitutes a good yearling," says MacPhail, "so when my night comes, I'm going to offer 'em the best available—the best breeding and the best in conformation. With 40 yearlings going at auction I'll need to average about $12,000 to make any money. I think I'll do it."

But even with Larry MacPhail's highly prized consignment to lure them, buyers at Saratoga are constantly mindful of the elementary fundamentals of conformation: a good sloping shoulder, legs with strong bones, hard joints with no knottiness, medium-sized, well-shaped foot together with good spring in the pastern and, most important of all, a good intelligent head containing a wide jaw and a bold eye set in an honest face.

Such an animal may go for $60,000 or $6,000, or even $600. He may never get to the races or he may follow in the footsteps of such yearling sales bargains as Dark Star, Determine, Hasty Road and High Gun.

This is the gamble a true horseman—as opposed to a horse player—enjoys most of all.

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