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In response to the post about the new bloodstock blog called Boojum’s Bonanza, some readers have wondered what a boojum is.

The name originates from Lewis Carroll’s poem, The Hunting of the Snark. The characters are hunting the Snark, but they are warned to beware of the Boojum, because if they find one, the finder will disappear.

Sure enough, one of these made-up characters finds a Snark and fades away because the “Snark was a Boojum, you see.”

The conflict between appearance and substance and the difficulty of getting at the meaning of things is the heart of the study of pedigrees and mating patterns. Do they really work, or is it just careful semantics with famous names?

In racing and breeding, Boojum is also the name of a distinguished racehorse by John P. Grier (Man o’ War’s nemesis in the 1920 Dwyer and other races) out of Elf, by Chicle. A foal of 1927, Boojum was very fast and won the 1929 Hopeful but was also rather unsound, making only six starts.

Despite Boojum’s near sterility, he was rather successful as a sire, getting seven stakes winners from 32 foals over several seasons at stud. The best of these was Snark (out of Helvetia, by Hourless). A winner of the Metropolitan and Suburban handicaps for Wheatley Stable in the late 1930s, Snark went to stud at Claiborne Farm, proved a useful stallion, and seemed to offer a hope of keeping alive this pencil-thin branch of the old Ben Brush male line by siring Slide Rule, who was a winner of the Cowdin, Jerome, Peter Pan, and other good races, as well as running third in the Kentucky Derby.

Slide Rule, out of King’s Idyll, by Sir Gallahad III, sired his only three stakes winners from 139 foals out of his crop of 1952. They were Decimal, Nance’s Lad, and Sorceress.

All three were good stakes winners, with Nance’s Lad earning a place at stud. There he sired one foal, stakes winner Doolin Point, and with that, this branch of Broomstick/Ben Brush faded away like that Baker when he found the Snark that was a Boojum, you see.