The following article first appeared earlier this week at Paulick Report.
One advantage that home breeders have in the selection of stock is that they can make themselves aware of subtleties in stock that are meaningful and can disregard things that are not.
For Emory Alexander Hamilton, who bred and sold the unbeaten Kentucky Derby prospect Verrazano, knowledge of one of her family’s King Ranch Thoroughbred lines led her to purchase a landmark mare that has shaped Hamilton’s breeding program for three decades.
In a recent interview, Hamilton recalled that her sister, Helen Alexander, “had taken over the management of the King Ranch Thoroughbreds after our grandfather died. She sold some colts, and in 1980, she also included fillies in the King Ranch consignment.”
Among those fillies was an elegant bay by French highweight Blushing Groom and the second foal out of the talented Dr. Fager mare Remedia, a daughter of French classic winner Monade.
The yearling filly was Too Chic, and Hamilton purchased her at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July sale of selected yearlings for $100,000. At the time, Blushing Groom was a well-regarded but unproven sire, and the filly wasn’t perfect in front.
Hamilton said that Too Chic “didn’t move that well in front, but she was a good walker, and Tom Cooper of the BBA (Ireland) agreed to buy her for me as a friend.”
Going against the grain of the hyper-critical marketplace, Hamilton wanted to buy high-class stock. She said, “Her crookedness didn’t bother me. She was a pretty nice filly” for scope and quality, “and Monade was that way too and was good-sized.”
Having secured a filly who would prove a more potent foundation mare than others who would cost much more in the sales ring, Hamilton did right by the filly to let her show her class on the racetrack by giving her time and sending her to the proper sort of trainer.
Hamilton said that “Tom Cooper persuaded me to be patient with Too Chic and put me with trainer Jim Maloney. That worked out pretty well.”
Yes, indeed. Making her début at 3, Too Chic won four of her eight starts, including the Grade 1 Maskette Stakes, and placed second in two stakes, including the G1 Alabama over 10 furlongs at Saratoga.
Retired to stud, Too Chic was sent to the important young sire Mr. Prospector and produced a pair of G1 winners in Chic Shirine and champion Queena.
That makes breeding good racehorses seem simple, doesn’t it?
Chic Shirine emulated her dam by winning a G1, the Ashland, at 3 and running third in the G1 Mother Goose. And her younger full sister won three times at the premium level during her championship season at 5.
At stud, Chic Shirine produced a pair of G2 stakes winners, Tara Roma and Waldoboro, both by leading sire Lyphard (Northern Dancer). The mare’s last foal was by Northern Dancer’s great-grandson Giant’s Causeway, and she is named Enchanted Rock.
Hamilton said that Enchanted Rock, the dam of Verrazano, “is a very big mare, standing about 17.1. Shug had her, ran her one time, and she got hurt. So we bred her to Pulpit because he was proven, had good speed, and was smaller, thinking to go against size because we didn’t want anything bigger.”
After breeding four generations of this family, Hamilton knows her stock, and her first result from Enchanted Rock was graded stakes winner El Padrino.
The second was Verrazano (More Than Ready), now a G1 winner and one of the chief favorites for the Kentucky Derby.
Hamilton noted that Verrazano is a “good-sized More Than Ready and was a good-looking colt” when sent to the yearling sales at Keeneland in September of 2011, where the bay brought $250,000 from Let’s Go Stable.
Hamilton “generally sells the colts and keeps the fillies” from her broodmares, and that is the pattern she followed with Enchanted Rock’s first three foals. The first two are El Padrino and Verrazano, and the third is the Tapit filly La Madrina that Hamilton has in training with Shug McGaughey as a 2-year-old.
As all the world and especially those closely associated with the Kentucky Derby contenders watch them train at Churchill Downs this week, Hamilton noted that, “Enchanted Rock’s babies have very good minds. They don’t get worked up like some.”
That might be an observation to remember about a colt who will experience the most exciting 30 minutes of a racehorse’s life just before he competes in the most exciting two minutes in sports.