Over the post-Christmas weekend, Gulfstream Park held a trio of graded stakes with ties to the history of Thoroughbred racing. The William L. McKnight Handicap was named for the former president of 3M Corp. who founded and funded Tartan Farm in Florida. With trainer, general manager, and horseman-in-chief John Nerud, Tartan produced champions, including Horse of the Year Dr. Fager, and helped make Florida breeding a national and international force.
The Mr. Prospector Handicap was named for the great son of Raise a Native because Mr. Prospector was owned by Florida-based Aisco Stable and began his stud career there, siring champions It’s in the Air and Conquistador Cielo among others.
A third stakes on Saturday was the La Prevoyante Handicap, which was named for the 1972 Eclipse champion 2-year-old filly. The leggy bay was a daughter of the great racehorse Buckpasser out of Arctic Dancer, a full sister to Northern Dancer.
If that pedigree sounds like equine royalty, it was. And on the racetrack, La Prevoyante proved even more impressive.
Bred and raced by Jean-Louis Levesque in Canada, La Prevoyante was the 1972 Horse of the Year in Canada. The grand bay filly was so striking in the flesh and so commanding on the racetrack that more than a couple observers considered her superior to 1972 champion 2-year-old colt and Horse of the Year Secretariat.
They were mistaken, of course, but in 1972, Secretariat was not yet a Triple Crown winner, nor the legend he became. Instead, he had managed to lose his debut and had been disqualified out of a convincing victory in the Champagne when that trouble-making Stop the Music had gotten in the way.
But by one tangible measure, La Prevoyante was obviously superior. She hadn’t lost a race.
In 12 starts as a juvenile, La Prevoyante was unbeaten, winning all by open lengths. No juvenile filly had done that before or since, and only the great Colin had gone through a 12-race juvenile program without a loss. Racing in Canada and the States, La Prevoyante’s victories numbered 10 stakes, including the Spinaway, Matron, Frizette, Gardenia, and Selima.
At three, however, the filly’s overwhelming dominance was gone. She was still a good filly, winning the La Troienne and Quebec Derby, plus finishing second in the Kentucky Oaks and third in the Canadian Oaks, but that was scarcely a whiff of what had been anticipated.
A grand-looking, obviously precocious, and highly advanced filly at two, La Prevoyante did not “train on,” as our European friends would say. She did not continue improving and maturing at the rate of some other juvenile fillies, and as a consequence, her contemporaries caught up with her. As a result, La Prevoyante became just another good filly.
Although La Prevoyante continued to race through her 4-year-old season, she never won another top-tier race. In her final start, on Dec. 28, 1974 in the Miss Florida Handicap, La Prevoyante led by seven lengths after a quarter in :22 4/5 and by four after a half in :46 3/5, but she fell back rapidly late in the stretch, finishing eighth by 5 ¾ lengths.
After pulling up, La Prevoyante collapsed from what was believed to be heat prostration, then was revived “by a spray of cold water,” according to the report in the Thoroughbred Record. The filly went to the receiving barn, but she collapsed and died there. An autopsy revealed that the cause of death was a ruptured lung.
As shocking and dispiriting as the filly’s sudden death proved to her fans, the cost of her loss to the breed became even more obvious in coming years.
La Prevoyante was the second of three champion daughters of Buckpasser, the best broodmare sire between Princequillo and Mr. Prospector. Buckpasser’s first champion daughter was Numbered Account, the dam of Grade 1 winners Private Account (by Damascus) and Dance Number (Northern Dancer). Both of those prominent runners have contributed mightily to the breed because Private Account became an important stallion as the sire of unbeaten Personal Ensign and other high-class racers. Dance Number became the dam of champion juvenile colt Rhythm (Mr. Prospector), as well as his full brother Not for Love, who is the broodmare sire of Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome. This is the family of Kentucky Derby winner and leading freshman sire Super Saver (Maria’s Mon), Kentucky Derby second Bluegrass Cat (Storm Cat), and G1 winner Girolamo (A.P. Indy).
Buckpasser’s third champion daughter was Relaxing, and she became the dam of juvenile champion Easy Goer (Alydar), also winner of the Belmont Stakes, and of G1 winners Cadillacing (Alydar) and Easy Now (Danzig). Cadillacing produced G1 winner Strolling Along (Danzig), G2 winner Cat Cay (Pleasant Colony), and graded stakes-placed Lion Hearted (Storm Cat), a good stallion in Maryland.
In the context of these and many other top producers by Buckpasser, La Prevoyante was odds-on to be a good producer or better. Instead, her legacy is three seasons of competition, with 25 victories in 39 starts and earnings of $572,417.
Inducted into the National Racing Hall of Fame in 1995, La Prevoyante holds a place in history due to her extraordinary juvenile season, and she is memorialized by the graded stakes in south Florida that bears her name.
*The preceding post was first published earlier this week at Paulick Report.