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The current economic maladies are not, lamentably, new to America, or other countries, either. Rises and falls are a cyclical part of capitalist economics, and the country was thrashing in the consumptive agonies of depression during the last decade of the 19th century.

One of the results of the turmoil was to eliminate demand for racehorses, making the supply far too large. But our practical forebears did not flinch from such difficulties and found ways of tapping the excess and draining it off.

More than a century ago, they formed the Breeders Protective Association and began operating at auctions to purchase mares of little pedigree and less worth. Their premise was that “getting rid of the culls means a legitimate increase in high-class mares only, and carries with it the idea of yearlings in the future coming from representative broodmares of America. The system is the same as that which has for many years been practiced in England with the result being that yearling fillies from the better class of English matrons, when put up at auction, bring handsome prices on the basis that whether good race mares or not, their royal lineage will render them fit to enter those exclusive harems from which great racehorses emanate.” (The Thoroughbred Record, 1900)

The Breeders Protective Association purchased 194 broodmares at sales in 1898 and 1899 for a total of $3,754.60. Thus, the BPA was scooping up $50 mares, burning their registration papers, and selling them on as riding horses or whatever (there were no dog foods plants, for instance, at that time).

The practice had some of the predicted effects, making yearlings somewhat more scarce and more expensive, therefore more reasonable for breeders to produce.

There were also some surprises in the program. O.H. Chenault, who worked as agent for the BPA and was the organization’s secretary-treasurer, purchased the 16-year-old Pat Malloy mare Patroness for $75 at the Woodburn Farm dispersal in November 1897. Perhaps she fell a bit outside the organization’s price guidelines or perhaps she was just a bit too nice to dump or perhaps Chenault just got lucky.

The mare was in foal to Falsetto at the time of sale, and the next spring she produced the bay colt His Eminence. Three years later, that colt won the Kentucky Derby.

His Eminence was one of three Kentucky Derby winners sired by Falsetto. The others were Chant (1894) and Sir Huon (1906).

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