In the Delaware Handicap, the charming chestnut I’m a Chatterbox added her second Grade 1 victory to a career record that shows 7 successes from 14 starts, with earnings of $1,834,614.
She is, for one thing, inbred 4×3 to the Secretariat mare Lady Winborne and carries two more crosses to the 1973 Triple Crown winner through his daughters Terlingua, dam of Storm Cat, and Secrettame, dam of Gone West.
Terlingua and Secrettame were both stakes winners, but Lady Winborne was a winner from two starts. Although she did not have an extensive race record, Lady Winborne did not lack pedigree. Lady Winborne was a half-sister to the great racemare Allez France (Sea-Bird), and both are daughters of the high-class filly Priceless Gem (Hail to Reason), who defeated champion Buckpasser in the 1965 Futurity Stakes.
The partnership of Hall of Fame trainer Hirsch Jacobs and Isidore Bieber bred Priceless Gem, and she raced in the name of Ethel Jacobs, the trainer’s wife. Priceless Gem was a half-sister to champion Affectionately (Swaps), and both were daughters of a War Admiral mare that Jacobs bought in May 1955 for $15,000. A mare named Searching.
Bred in Kentucky by Ogden Phipps, Searching was not very big, certainly not impressive as a young racer, and she was a maiden after 20 starts. Phipps had a lot of well-pedigreed horses; another who couldn’t win wasn’t an asset.
Jacobs must have scratched her on the ears, fed her toast and jam, or something. When the filly started racing for him, Searching finished in first place for six of her first seven starts with the Ethel Jacobs Stable.
By the end of the season, Searching was a multiple stakes winner, and small was beginning to look mighty nice.
Searching came from a family of small horses. Not only was War Admiral small, but the mare’s granddam was the marvelous La Troienne, not exactly the queen of large herself. La Troienne’s first top performer was her daughter Black Helen, a very small mare with a massive talent that allowed her to win the American Derby, the Florida Derby, and the Coaching Club American Oaks.
Very high class with stamina allowed Black Helen to dominate her division, and she became the first of three full siblings by E.R. Bradley’s stallion Black Toney out of La Troienne. The most famous of the three was champion Bimelech, winner of the Preakness and Belmont Stakes, and the other was Big Hurry, winner of the 1938 Selima Stakes and three other races. As a measure of her class, only one filly was rated above her on the Experimental Free Handicap at 2.
Like all the big three and all five of La Troienne’s stakes winners, Big Hurry was bred by Bradley at Idle Hour Stud and raced for him. And she went to stud at Idle Hour like all her famous siblings.
But Bradley was quite elderly by the 1940s, and when Idle Hour was broken up in 1946 after Bradley’s death, the farm’s bloodstock was split up in large groups to Greentree Stable, King Ranch, and Ogden Phipps.
Only 10 at the time and already the dam of stakes horses Bridal Flower and Be Fearless, Big Hurry was one of the pearls of the Bradley bloodstock. She produced three further stakes winners for Phipps: Great Captain, The Admiral, and Searching.
In the division of riches, Greentree got Bimelech and La Troienne, who was already 20. The grand old mare was in foal, however, and the following year, she produced a filly for Greentree by Blue Larkspur. Named Belle of Troy, the unraced mare became the dam of Whitney Stakes winner Cohoes (Mahmoud).
Through an agent, Bradley had purchased La Troienne at the 1930 Newmarket sales for 1,250 guineas in foal to major sire Gainsborough. She became the most important mare imported to the U.S. and arguably the most important mare of the 20th century.
At her new home in Kentucky, La Troienne made history.
More noteworthy for structure than substance, La Troienne was a finely made mare who had shown form “when highly tried” during a seven-race career. She had not won but had placed in stakes and was even tried in the classics.
Brought to America and fortified with bluegrass, the elegant little mare and her offspring have made decades of racing history richer with their speed and gameness.