E.R. Bradley died on Aug. 15, 1946, and in November, the estate announced that the entirety of Idle Hour Farm and its stock had sold to a syndicate of horse breeders. King Ranch, Greentree Stud, and Ogden Phipps were the buyers.
The gross price for land and horses was $2,681,545, “approximately,” as it was reported.
The syndicate members retained ownership of the young stallion Bimelech, stood him at Greentree for the remainder of his stud career. The 20-year-old stallion Blue Larkspur became the property of King Ranch and remained at Idle Hour (partitioned, sold to Edwad S. Moore, and renamed Circle M Farm) till the horse died in May of 1947.
The Circle M property changed hands several times and eventually became what is largely Darby Dan Farm today. The other portion of the land of Idle Hour went to King Ranch and became its Kentucky division for several decades.
King Ranch acquired the following mares: Bee Mac (in foal to Bull Lea), Be Like Mom (Blue Larkspur), Baby Sister (War Admiral), Buginarug (barren), By Appointment (Questionnaire), Bird of War (Questionnaire), Bond Buyer (Bimelech); these horses in training: Bridal Flower, But Why Not, Blind Frenzy, Bee Ann Mac, Better Value; two yearlings and three weanlings.
Greentree acquired the following mares: Blade of Time (Bimelech), Big Event (Devil Diver), Beanie M. (War Admiral), Blinking Owl (Bimelech), Bright Green (barren), La Troienne (Blue Larkspur); these horses in training: Blue-Eyed Momo, Bimlette, Blue Border; three yearlings, and three weanlings.
Ogden Phipps acquired the following mares: Baby League (War Admiral), Bloodroot (Bull Lea), Businesslike (War Admiral), Babys Breath (Bimelech), Black Helen (barren); four yearlings and three weanlings.
The syndicate sold on 14 mares to Moore, plus 10 yearlings and 10 weanlings. Of the mares, eight were in foal to major stallions; six were barren at the time of sale. The mares were: Bazaar (Bimelech), Big Doings (Fighting Fox), Bitindependent (Whirlaway), Born Fool (Shut Out), Boys I’m It (War Admiral), Bright Blue (Pharamond II), Bubblette (Bimelech), Clonaslee (Bimelech), plus the barren Barn Swallow, Best of All, Bird Flower, Bit o’ Love, Bridal Colors, and By Mistake.
The syndicate sold three 3-year-old colts to Charles S. Howard and four 2-year-olds, and also sold the yearling full brother of Horse of the Year Busher to Maine Chance Farm (Elizabeth Arden / Elizabeth Graham).
Among Moore’s in-foal mares, Bazaar, winner of the 1933 Hopeful Stakes and dam of the good stakes winner Best Seller, had not had a foal for seven years. Her foal of 1947 was Our Tops (Bimelech), who was stakes-placed at 2 and 4. Bazaar never produced another foal. Clonaslee had produced three stakes winners but was 24 at the time of sale. She produced two more foals. All in all, these mares were culled for reason by whomever was advising the syndicate, and the barren mares were even less productive than those in foal.
But Moore did much better among his younger horses. Chief among them was Relic (1945 War Relic x Bridal Colors), who won five of seven starts, including the 1947 Hopeful Stakes. And Maine Chance got a star in buying the colt later named Mr. Busher. The purchase price was steep at $50,000, but the colt won three of his four starts at 2, his only season to race, including the Arlington Futurity, earned $83,875, and became a useful sire.
The three syndicate members did best, of course, or I wouldn’t be writing this because the nuggets from their acquisition of Idle Hour bloodstock formed the kernel of a good portion of American racing history over the past half-century.
At the time of sale alone, Blade of Time was carrying Guillotine (Bimelech), winner of the 1949 Futurity for Greentree; Businesslike was carrying Busanda (War Admiral), winner of the Suburban and later dam of Buckpasser and Bupers, for Ogden Phipps; Baby League was carrying Striking (War Admiral), a stakes winner and later a Broodmare of the Year, also for Phipps; and King Ranch got immediate results with But Why Not, champion 3-year-old filly of 1947, and longer-term success with Better Self, a major stakes winner and sire, who was a yearling in 1946.
Bradley’s bloodstock, exceptional as it was, seemed to prosper even more in the hands of these three major breeders over the intervening decades, and Bradley’s name and the names and deeds of the horses he bred are an inextricable part of the fabric of racing history and of racing’s future.