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Breeders Corner \ Rough Shod II

19 June

When A. B. “Bull” Hancock travelled to the Newmarket December Sales in 1951 to purchase four mares for various clients, the Hyperion matron Hydrangea was the real apple of his eye. While Hydrangea did top the sale, two of the other three mares which Hancock purchased, Knight’s Daughter and Rough Shod II, would go on to greater glory.

In 1954 Knight’s Daughter produced eventual Horse of the Year and three-time turf champion Round Table; Hydrangea produced just one stakes winner, Nagea; Silver Sal produced no stakes horses. And Rough Shod II? Rough Shod II produced no less than a dynasty.

The big, rangy mare was bred in England by Major H. S. Cayzer where she placed in a minor added-money event, the Wykeham Stakes, as a three-year-old. She produced her first foal, a non-winner named Sollander, in England prior to being imported to the U.S. while in foal to My Babu.

Although Bull Hancock actually chose Rough Shod II, owing no doubt to her inbreeding to St. Simon (a favourite pedigree pattern of the Claiborne master), she was first sold to T. M. Girdler for whom she produced her first five foals. One of these, a colt by Nantallah, was champion Ridan; another was stakes winner Ruffrullah, a 1955 daughter of Nasrullah who dropped San Carlos Handicap second Riot. And a third was Gambetta, the foal by My Babu which Rough Shod II was carrying at the time of her importation.

Gambetta, too, became a stakes winner, annexing the Debutante Stakes at Churchill Downs and the Susan Stakes as well as placing in Arlington Park’s Pollyana Stakes. Her real worth, however, was as a broodmare.

In 1960, Girdler decided to sell Ridan (then a yearling) to Moody Jolley and partners for $11,000. Girdler also sold Rough Shod II and Gambetta, to the partnership of Bull Hancock and William Haggin Perry.

Rough Shod II’s first foal for Claiborne was a full brother to Ridan, Lt. Stevens, who won three stakes and placed in several others, earning $240,949. Best known as a broodmare sire, Lt. Stevens achieved immortality when his daughter Bel Sheba produced double classic winner and Horse of the Year Alysheba.

In 1963, Rough Shod II foaled her greatest racing daughter, Moccasin, a full sister to both Ridan and Lt. Stevens. A winner of $388,075 during her racing career, which included an unbeaten eight-for-eight two-year-old season, Moccasin remains the only two-year-old filly in history to be named Horse of the Year.

In 1964, Rough Shod II again was bred to Nantallah and produced the stakes placed Thong, who has become one of the greatest broodmares of her time. Even counting her only son Thatch and her grandson Nureyev, Thong would be priceless, but her daughters are every bit as excellent as producers as their dam and granddam.

Rough Shod II’s last foal, Cleat, a colt by Sir Gaylord, was born April 18, 1965. Cleat did not win at the racetrack and died as a three-year-old. A few hours after foaling her last-born, Rough Shod II herself died of a ruptured uterine artery. She was 21 years of age.

Recognition came late to Rough Shod II and she was never named Broodmare of the Year. However, she is well deserving of the title of Reine-de-Course, due not only to her own fine production record but to that of her three best daughters; Gambetta, Moccasin and Thong.

Gambetta, Rough Shod II’s 1952 daughter by My Babu has four main branches to her family: Gamely; Staretta, Zonah and Aphonia.

Gamely’s branch was cursed with ill luck. She produced but two foals, Cellini and Gambling. Cellini, a son of Round Table, was second high weighted two-year-old in Ireland in 1973 but proved sterile at stud. Gambling, a full sister to Cellini, unfortunately produced nothing of note.

Other branches of Gambetta’s family have fared better. Staretta, a 1957 Dark Star filly, was a hardy racemare who made 53 starts and won two stakes. Possessed of excellent speed, Staretta set a track record in the Colonial Handicap in 1961 and also set a five furlong record at Laurel.

As a broodmare, Staretta’s best produce is the twin Star Strewn (by Native Dancer), dam of the Forli filly Asteroid Field, a Group winner in Europe and winner of the Grade I Matriarch Stakes at Hollywood Park in the U.S.

Zonah, Gambetta’s 1958 Nasrullah filly, is her best producing daughter. A stakes-placed winner (third in the Mermaid Stakes), Zonah produced three stakes horses, all by Round Table: Grade I winner Take Your Place; stakes placed Zonely and near-champion Drumtop.

Drumtop made a career of beating colts and defeated champions like Ft. Marcy at the top of her game. Among her best foals were the fine runner and sire Topsider; classic placed Brogan and Bedford and stakes placed War Of Words. Topsider, by Northern Dancer, now has a good sire son in Europe named Salse whose blood is as much a tribute to Rough Shod II as to his more famous Northern Dancer cross.

There may be some argument as to whether Moccasin or Thong is the best producer, but there is no argument about which was the best runner.

Indeed, Moccasin was that rarest of commodities, a great racehorse who became a great broodmare. To this day, no one can duplicate her. She remains the lone two-year-old filly to be voted Horse of the Year (an honour she shared with Roman Brother); at stud she produced nine foals, seven stakes winners and two champions (Chef-de-Race Apalachee and Belted Earl).

So dominant, in fact, was Moccasin’s speed in the pedigree of Apalachee that he not only ran best at two but became a brilliant sire, quite the opposite of the usual route-loving blood of his sire Round Table’s offspring. It is probably fair to say we will never see another mare like Moccasin; she was truly a unique individual.

To no one’s surprise, two of Moccasin’s daughters, Flippers by Coastal and Scuff by Forli, both stakes winners themselves, are now stakes producers. Flippers produced the Grade I-winning Seattle Slew filly Hail Atlantis, while Scuff foaled the Grade II winner Ebros by Mr. Prospector and is the third dam of successful sire Smart Missile.

By the time Thong came along, her future as a broodmare was pretty well acknowledged. Other daughters of Rough Shod II who had gone before had assured her of access to the world’s best stallions. That she also was talented enough as a runner to be stakes placed in good races like the Selima and Alcibiades, was merely icing on the cake.

Thong’s first foal was the Irish champion colt Thatch (by Forli) who has become a good stallion in Europe. Now possessed of a good siring son in Thatching who himself has a good sire son in Tirol to carry on, Thatch may be responsible for keeping Forli’s male line alive.

Thong’s 1972 foal, the brilliant classic-placed King Pellinore, by Round Table, had an excellent record in Europe, where he placed in the English St. Leger and Irish Derby. However, he was even better as he matured and in the U.S. he won on both dirt and turf, and came within a nose of winning a turf Eclipse from Youth. King Pellinore was moved too many times to be effective at stud (California-Kentucky-New York) but is finally making a name for himself as a broodmare sire, most notably of multi-millionaire Best Pal and Canadian champion King Corrie.

Thong’s next two foals, Espadrille by Damascus and Lisadell by Forli were both good racehorses who became good producers. Espadrille won stakes and was Grade III placed. Her daughter Pump by Forli has produced the Nijinsky II stakes winner Classic Sport and Swiss Derby winner Filao Beach while Lisadell won a Group III stakes and produced stakes winner and leading Australian sire Yeats (by Nijinsky II) and Group I National Stakes winner Fatherland (who broke down and was destroyed in the U.S.) as well as stakes winner Golden Dome, by Golden Fleece.

In addition, Lisadell foaled the stakes placed Secretariat filly Rosa Mundi, dam of Del Mar Handicap winner Sword Dance (by Nijinsky II), who is showing early signs of being a fine sire representative for the family. This year, Sword Dance’s best runner is the Hollywood Derby winner Marlin.

In 1969 Thong produced the Forli filly Special who was unplaced in her only career start. However, Special saved her best for her career in the breeding shed.

Her first foal was champion miler and Chef-de-Race Nureyev, sire of such superstars as Miesque and Theatrical.

Special’s Nijinsky II filly Bound, a three-quarter sister to Nureyev, won $339,744 and counted the Churchill Downs Budweiser Breeders’ Cup among her victories. The following year, Bound’s full sister Number, did her one better and won the Grade II Hempstead Handicap, as well as the Firenze and First Flight Handicaps. At stud, she has been marvellous, foaling the Grade I Mr. Prospector stakes winner Jade Robbery, Grade III stakes winner Chequer and the stakes placed Spectacular Bid filly Add.

Thong’s best daughter, Fairy Bridge (by Bold Reason) came along in 1975. In addition to being a pretty smart racemare (she was highweighted at two on the Irish Free Handicap), Fairy Bridge has been a wondrous producer.

Her first foal, Sadler’s Wells (by Northern Dancer) was second highweight on the Irish Free Handicap at two, and champion miler in France at three. His major victories included the Irish Two Thousand Guineas, Champion Stakes, and the Coral-Eclipse Stakes. At stud, he has been even more spectacular, and is considered today as one of the world’s best stallions with offspring like Old Vic, Salsabil, In The Wings, Fatherland and Opera House representing him.

Fairy Bridge foaled three other stakes winners, all by Northern Dancer: Tate Gallery, a Group I winner and second highweight on the Irish Free Handicap at two in 1985; Puppet Dance, a minor stakes winner; Fair Gold, a Group II winner who was Group I placed and Fairy King, a flop at the racetrack but sire of champion miler Turtle Island and 1996 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Helissio, as well as top Australian sire Encosta De Lago. Fairy Bridge also produced a stakes placed Nijinsky II filly, Fairy Dancer.

A word about Rough Shod II’s own pedigree is in order. The big, coarse mare was bred on a pattern sure to catch the eye of Bull Hancock – 6 x 6 x 6 x 6 x 4 to St. Simon and his full sister Angelica. The pair picked up an additional cross of their sire, Galopin, via Merry Gal in the pedigree of broodmare sire Blandford.

One Thousand Guineas winner Manganese is present three times via a double of her St. Leger-winning son Wenlock and his half brother Kisber, a Derby winner. It is interesting to note that a half sister to Wenlock and Kisber named Siluria established a pretty nice branch of this family in her own right. She is the eighth dam of Reine-de-Course Boudoir II.

Other crosses which Rough Shod II carried were a double of speed influence Orby via her sire Gold Bridge and a double of Isinglass, scion of the Blenheim II line, via her dam Dalmary. Dalmary also supports three crosses of Isonomy on her own. Bend Or and Hermit are also doubled in the sixth generation.

Obviously, the majority of bloodlines which Rough Shod II possessed were either classic or stamina-oriented. Only Orby tends toward speed, and it is well to note that her sire, Gold Bridge, was by either Swynford or Golden Boss (a grandson of Orby).

While classic bloodlines are normally suited to a variety of sire lines, the quality of Rough Shod II’s produce by Nantallah and My Babu serve as proof that she was best served by breeding to speed. Obviously, Rough Shod II’s own classic strength blended well with this quick, precocious blood and in so blending allowed her foals to become American classics. In Europe, she might have been bred to plodders and she could well have faded into oblivion if that had occurred.

What makes such a thought a tragedy is the strength of her family world-wide. Rough Shod II descended from the Ann Of the Forest branch of the No. 5 female family whose descendants have won pattern races in Ireland, France, England, Norway, Uruguay, Italy, Belgium, Holland, Hungary, Germany, South Africa, Spain and Canada. Yet thanks to Rough Shod II, nowhere does the line shine any brighter than it does in the United States.

These, then, are the high points of Rough Shod II’s contributions to date. The nice thing about a dynasty is that it keeps on building. Just since the original article was written on this mare in 1992, the Special branch has grown to include a major sire in Fairy King and the Lisadell branch has a major stallion prospect coming along nicely in Sword Dance. But Special in particular catches the eye. She has three world-class sires: Nureyev, Sadler’s Wells and Fairy King under her (the last two named out of her champion daughter Fairy Bridge) as well as the major producer Number. Another daughter, Bound, also has foaled a stakes winner named Limit, winner of the Busanda S. It is time to honour her.

Oddly enough, neither Rough Shod II or any of her three great daughters - Moccasin, Gambetta or Thong - were ever named Broodmares of the Year. However, there are other honours. And we bestowed such honours in naming them, along with granddaughter Special, as Reines-de-Course.

New Zealand's Champion 3YO filly Jennifer Eccles is another boasting the presence of Rough Shod II, carrying three lines of the great producer in her immediate pedigree.

Former leading sire Northern Meteor (sire of Deep Field & Shooting To Win) carries Rough Shod II on both sides of his family being by Fairy King's son Encosta De Lago and his second dam Scuff a granddaughter of Rough Shod II; while leading sire Pierro also carries Rough Shod II's granddaughter Special on both sides of his pedigree through Zabeel and Sadler’s Wells.

Top racehorse and successful sire Ocean Park is another to carry Rough Shod II's granddaughter Special on both sides of his pedigree, as is exciting young sire Tarzino.
Add in the presence of Galileo (sire of Teofilo, Frankel, Australia), Encosta De Lago (sire of Rubick & Northern Meteor), Lonhro, SmartMissile, Stravinsky, So You Think, Zoustar, Gold Brose, Rip Van Winkle, Iffraaj, Reliable Man, Testa Rossa, Reset, in the southern hemisphere and the future of this family looks very bright indeed.

The ongoing appearance of Rough Shod II on the global breeding scene is also set to continue for a long time into the future through thanks to the likes of Kingmambo (grandsire of Japan star Lord Kanaloa), Camelot, Kittens Joy (sire of Roaring Lion), Pivotal (sire of Siyouni) and Medaglia d’Oro (sire of Astern & Vancouver).

Credit to Reines-de-Course for the background information \ Pictured: Rough Shod II