It has been noted throughout racing history that many great race mares seldom become great broodmares once their racing days are finished. When a beloved champion is retired, high expectations for breeding success is placed on a mare by her connections and fans. The beloved Canadian champion Glorious Song bucked that trend being not only a multiple champion on the track, but also a broodmare of considerable influence.
Glorious Song was bred in 1976 by the legendary E.P. Taylor at his famous Windfields Farm in Oshawa, Ontario. She was the first foal from her dam Ballade, a winning daughter of Herbager, and came from the first crop of foals sired by soon to be famous stallion Halo. The racing career of Glorious Song went a long way in establishing Halo as an elite sire.
Frank Stronach bought the bay Halo – Ballade filly for $36,000 at the CTHS yearling sales the following year, and gave her the name Glorious Song. Glorious Song had much of her sire’s legendary short fuse temper and proved to be a challenging filly. She was especially averse to behaving calmly at starting gates. She made only one start as a juvenile. She won. Trainer Fred Loschke put her away for the year after the victory.
In 1979 Glorious Song began to display her talent as the season progressed, highlighted by a powerful will to win demeanor in her stretch runs. She captured seven races, four of which were stakes races, from ten starts racing exclusively in her native country. She lost out to Canadian Oaks winner Kamar for the Sovereign Award as champion three year old filly in a close vote. Kamar had beaten Glorious Song in their only meeting in the Duchess Stakes.
Stronach made the decision to keep Glorious Song in training for a four year old campaign and had also hired trainer Gerry Belanger to condition his emerging star. Both decisions would prove to be fortuitous. Glorious Song made eleven starts in the 1980 season and was never off the board. She won on both grass and dirt against top caliber opposition from California to New York, with winning stops in Toronto and Detroit. As her reputation grew against the best fillies and mares in training, Glorious Song turned her attention to racing against the elite males then in training.
She held her own against the likes of Spectacular Bid, then in his legendary perfect season of domination, and was named as the Eclipse Award Champion older mare for the year. Among the races Glorious Song captured during 1980 were three grade one stakes, the La Canada, the Santa Margarita and the Top Flight Handicap. She won the Canadian Maturity and Dominion Day Handicap (G3) at home as well as the Michigan Mile. Glorious Song also finished second in the La Brea, Laurance Armour Handicap, Marlboro Cup and the Haskell Handicap. In the latter she faced the aforementioned Spectacular Bid and gave him the toughest race he had during the year.
Needless to say, Glorious Song was also named as the Champion Older Mare in Canada and also took home the Sovereign Award as Canadian Horse of the Year. Stronach had sold a half interest in Glorious Song to turf mogul Nelson Bunker Hunt during the year. Following her haul of awards, Hunt purchased the other 50% from Stronach and thus Glorious Song would now race under his famous green blocks colours and have her third trainer in the form of John Cairns to deal with.
The five year old season of Glorious Song was not as eye popping as the previous year, but she did not disgrace herself or tarnish her credentials. In a twelve race season that covered six tracks from coast to coast, Glorious Song would become the first Canadian thoroughbred to surpass the one million dollar mark in career earnings. While that highlight may seem trifle by today’s standards, back in 1981 this was a very significant achievement. During the year Glorious Song became more frequently “testy” when approaching the starting gate. Her exerted stubbornness resulting in a few unplaced finishes including a particular temper display she made before the Monmouth Handicap, in which she finished seventh.
Glorious Song won three graded stakes during the year, with the highlight being a courageous neck victory over Truly Bound and Safe Play in the Spinster Stakes at Keeneland. She also took the Santa Maria Handicap and her second Dominion Day Handicap in her only Canadian race. Glorious Song also defended her Sovereign Award as Champion Older Mare in Canada.
Nelson Bunker Hunt retired Glorious song to his massive and extraordinary broodmare colony at season end. Hunt had access to the elite sires in the world and sent Glorious Song to Riverman for her first breeding liaison. The resulting colt born in 1983 was named Rivotious, a stakes place winner of five races in an eighteen race career. Rivotious eventually stood in Australia getting nine stakes winners including Boisterous Lady, the dam of Australian Oaks winner Rena’s Lady.
Hunt sold Glorious Song to leading Canadian breeder John Sikura while in foal to Nijinsky II. The resulting foal was a colt named Grand Opera, a non winner of only one start. Sikura bred Glorious Song to Blushing Groom for the follow year and a small chestnut colt was born in 1985. Sold to Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum as a yearling for $2 million at Keeneland, the little colt now named Rahy went on to win a pair of stakes races in England and then crossed back over to North America to campaign as a four year old. He took the grade two Bel Air Handicap.
Rahy went to stud in 1990 at Three Chimneys Farm and stayed there throughout his stallion career. Before he was pensioned nineteen years later due to declining fertility, Rahy became a standout stallion on the global breeding landscape. Among the notable offspring Rahy sired are Fantastic Light, Noverre, Exotic Wood, Dreaming of Anna, Tate’s Creek, Mariah’s Storm and Serena’s Song. The latter two daughters also lead the way for Rahy as a broodmare sire with the likes of Giant’s Causeway, Life At Ten, After Market, Declaration of War, Harlington, Worthadd and Sophisticat. Rahy sired ninety-one stakes winners and is the dam sire of more than one hundred stakes winners and still counting.
Returning to Glorious Song we see her having two consecutive sons sired by Northern Dancer immediately after producing Rahy in the unraced Northern Score and South African stakes winner Rakeen. Rakeen began his stud career in Kentucky but later went back to South Africa where he had his most notable racing success. While standing at Lammerskraal Stud he had notable success. His best was the outstanding two times South African Horse of the Year and five times leading sire Jet Master. Jet Master has been a major influence in South African breeding.
John Sikura kept Glorious Song at his Hill ‘N Dale Kentucky farm during her tenure under his ownership. She was bred back to Blushing Groom after foaling Rakeen and Sikura sold her to Sheikh Mohammad. The resulting foal, the sixth from Glorious Song but first filly, would be named Morn of Song. While not a stakes winner, Morn of Song did win three times in seven tries. As a broodmare, Morn of Song produced the outstanding Mezzo Soprano (Prix Vermeille), and Halwa Song, the second dam of multiple group one winners Vivlos and Verxina.
Under the Darly Group banner, Glorious Song kept up her outstanding production as a broodmare. Her 1992 son sired by In The Wings gave the world her greatest racing performer, Singspiel. The well travelled Singspiel won group/grade one stakes in four countries. He was named as the Eclipse Award Champion Turf Horse in 1996 following his triumph in the Canadian International, a well received victory by the locals, and a close second in the Breeder’s Cup Turf. He also captured the Japan Cup, a pair of group races in England and a pair of seconds in the Coronation Cup and Prince of Wales Stakes.
Singspiel came back as a five year old and won three more group one races, the Dubai World Cup on dirt, the Coronation Cup and the Juddmonte International Stakes. At stud Singspiel is credited with ninety-eight stakes winners with his best being the great five times group one winning gelding Solow. Other notables sired by Singspiel include Dar Re Mi (Yorkshire Oaks, Pretty Polly Stakes, Dubai Sheema Classic), Confidential Lady (Prix Hermes), Eastern Anthem (Dubai Sheema Classic), Folk Opera (E.P. Taylor Stakes), and Lahudood (Breeder’s Cup Filly & Mare Turf, Flower Bowl Handicap).
Glorious Song would produce five more foals for Darley before she was retired from stud duty at Dalham Hall in Newmarket, England. Two of these foals were fillies that while no world beaters on the track, they did advance the family to future success.
Ring of Music by Sadler’s Wells was unraced, but in the breeding shed she produced the well raced and outstanding Campanologist. Unfortunately, Campanologist had only two shuttle years of stud service between Germany and Argentina before he died from a severe colic attack. He did leave us with Grand Prix del Jockey Club Argentina winner Village King, and multiple German group winner Langtang.
The other daughter of Glorious Song to make an impact in breeding was also her last foal. Chansonnette by Mark of Esteem did not win in five starts. After her racing she was sold to Japanese interests. Her stud record shows us a wonderful brown colt sired by Fuji Kiseki, a son of the great Sunday Silence. The colt’s name is Danon Chantilly, winner of the NHK Mile Cup in 2010.
Glorious Song lived until the age of twenty-seven, when she succumbed to colic following emergency surgery. She is buried at Dalham Hall. A beloved champion in Canada due to her relentless determination on the track, Glorious Song became not only a glorious racer but also a glorious broodmare. Through her thirteen foals she has spread her talent and will to win throughout the world.
The first millionaire in Canadian racing history, her native country has honoured Glorious Song with a well deserved place in the Canadian Racing Hall of Fame and with an annual stakes race in her name. While she was not a warm and fuzzy soul to be around, Glorious Song has plenty of loving admirers to this day.
Glorious Song was that special.
(Illustration by Richard Stone Reeves)