Herbager and Grey Dawn II
Here is another father and son team, like Blenheim II and Mahmoud, who were very successful as sires, especially with regard to siring outstanding broodmares. Another obvious parallel is that by coincidence, the father is a dark bay and the son is a grey.
Herbager was bred in 1956 in France by M. L. Bara. He is by Vandale out of Flagette by Escamillo. Flagette was closely inbred to Firdaussi (a son of Pharos) 2 x 2 which means that Phalaris, sire of Pharos, is in Herbager’s pedigree twice in his fifth generation. Phalaris also appears in his fourth generation on his sire’s side as the dam sire of Plassy, sire of Vandale. His sire line was noted for their staying ability. He is a direct male line descendant of Bay Ronald, through the Dark Ronald/Son-In-Law branch.
Herbager was the top three year old in France in 1959. His major wins were the Prix du Jockey Club, the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud and the Prix du Prince d’Orange. He was known as a classy honest horse with good stamina and a devastating late kick. His six victories and one second place from eight starts in top company is testimony to his class. His only second place finish came in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe when he broke his pastern but still finished the race.
Retired to stud in 1960, Herbager stood in France his first five seasons before being purchased by “Bull” Hancock for $700,000 and exported to Claiborne Farm in Kentucky. Herbager was a handsome horse with an air of dignity about him. Hancock had just buried his best stamina source Princequillo, so he was in the market to supply his clients with the blood of a good stayer, also taking into account that Herbager’s pedigree was somewhat of an out cross to most of the bloodstock in North America.
From Herbager’s French crops of foals came his best son on the track and at stud Grey Dawn II, as well as Appiani II (Derby Italiano) who would sire the very good Star Appeal. Star Appeal was bred in Germany and then after victories in top class races in Germany, Italy and England he became the first German bred to capture the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, beating Allez France and Dahlia. Another Herbager son, Sea Hawk was champion two year old in France and winner of the Criterium de Saint-Cloud. Sea Hawk sired the 1975 St. Leger winner Bruni during a successful stud career.
Big Spruce was a very good looking son of Herbager, who raced against top company in his career. He was the winner of two grade one races, the San Luis Rey and Governor’s Stakes, among his nine victories. His second place finishes to Secretariat in the Canadian International, Secretariat’s final race, and Dahlia in the Washington DC International are fine performances against two of the very best. As a sire he met moderate success, with his best offspring being Acaroid and Super Moment.
Other good sons of Herbager were the versatile Tiller, a winner on dirt and grass (San Juan Capistrano, Sword Dancer and Tidal Handicaps), Gleaming (Hialeah Turf Cup twice), Dike (Breeder’s Futurity, Wood Memorial Stakes etc), and Loud (Travers Stakes).
Herbager sired very good stakes winning daughters such as Anifa (1980 Turf Classic), Our Mims, out of Sweet Tooth (dam of Alydar), the 1977 champion three year old filly, and Bag of Tunes (Kentucky Oaks).
The daughters of Herbager were not only good on the track but also good as broodmares, placing his name prominently in pedigrees of future generations. The aforementioned Bag of Tunes would produce Andaleeb by Lyphard, dam of stakes winner Prophecy, a multi stakes winning producer.
Bete a Bon Dieu produced multi stakes winner Buckskin by Yelepa. Among Buckskin’s ten lifetime wins were the Doncaster Cup, the Jockey Club Cup and the Prix du Cadran twice. Hevea was the dam of the good French filly Saraca by Shantung (Criterium de Saint-Cloud, Prix Saint-Alary, and the Prix Vermille).
Spring is Sprung, a direct granddaughter of Grey Flight, was the dam of Primevere by Irish River. Primevere would produce Priolo by Sovereign Dancer, a multi group one winner in France and good sire.
The Garden Club produced stakes winner Up the Flagpole (Delaware Oaks) by Hoist the Flag. She in turn produced Runup the Colors (Alabama Stakes and the Delaware Oaks). Another daughter of Up the Flagpole was Prospector’s Delight by Mr. Prospector. She is the dam of Mineshaft, winner of the Jockey Club Gold Cup, the Pimlico Special, the Woodward Stakes and the Suburban Handicap, all grade one races. Mineshaft is a popular active sire, at time of writing, standing at Lane’s End Farm.
I Will Follow, was a grade three stakes winner in France, and then in 1981 became the dam of very influential sire Rainbow Quest by Blushing Groom. Rainbow Quest ran in elite company on the track facing the likes of Sadler’s Wells, Pebbles, El Gran Senor and Darshaan. Among his important victories were the Coronation Cup and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (via a disqualification of Sagace). He sired over one hundred group/graded stakes winners.
Ballade would become the best producer of Herbager’s daughters. Out of Miss Swapsco by Cohoes, Ballade was purchased by Windfields Farm as a yearling in 1973 and became the matriarch of a very successful and highly influential family. Ballade’s first foal Glorious Song by Halo established her as a broodmare of importance. Glorious Song won multiple graded races against males and females including the Top Flight and Santa Margarita Handicaps, the La Canada Stakes, the Canadian Maturity, the Michigan Mile handicap, the Belle Mahone Stakes and the Wonder Where Stakes. She was a multi champion in her native Canada, including a Horse of the Year Sovereign Award, an Eclipse Award for Champion Older Mare, as well as being voted in to the Canadian Hall of Fame.
As a broodmare, Glorious Song would prove to be exceptional. She is the dam of Singspiel by In the Wings and Rahy by Blushing Groom. Singspiel travelled the globe to many top races very successfully. His wins include the Dubai Cup, ridden by Jerry Bailey, the Japan Cup with Frankie Dettori up, and the Canadian International with Gary Stevens as his jockey. His Dubai Cup victory was his first race on a dirt surface as he won for his proud breeder/owner Shiekh Mohammad. Singspiel also won the Coronation Cup in England. He was voted the Eclipse Award as champion grass horse.
Rahy was a $2 million yearling purchase by Sheikh Mohammad’s Gainsborough Stud Management. His biggest win was in the grade two Bel Air Handicap as a four year old. Rahy stood at Three Chimneys Farm in Midway, Kentucky. His progeny earned $97 million worldwide. Rahy’s stud fee steadily rose from $15,000 in 1990 to $100,000 due to his international stature as an excellent sire and then later as a fine broodmare sire. Rahy died in September 2011 and is buried at Three Chimneys.
Ballade also produced two full brothers of Glorious Song, Devil’s Bag and Saint Ballado. Devil’s Bag was the first, foaled in 1981. A $325,000 yearling purchase, he was sent to master trainer Woody Stephens. Stephens guided him to an undefeated two year old campaign and the honour of Champion Juvenile colt. In December of that year he was syndicated for $36 million, Seth Hancock being the head of the syndicate. A week after not starting in the Derby, he was the pre-race favourite, a small knee fracture was discovered and he was then retired to stud.
Saint Ballado was foaled in 1989 in Canada at Windfields Oshawa farm. He was not as accomplished as his brother and sister on the track but he did win the grade two Arlington Classic and the grade three Sheridan Stakes. He later became a very influential sire until his early death at the age of thirteen.
Still another daughter of the Halo – Ballade couple was Angelic Song. She too was bred in Oshawa but was sent to Ireland as a yearling. There she did not cover herself in glory on the race course but she did produce Sligo Bay by Sadler’s Wells. Sligo Bay won the grade three Cinema Handicap at three and then scored big in the grade one Hollywood Turf Cup. He now stands in Canada and has been a top ten sire since his get has reached racing age.
Herbager proved himself as a top sire getting sixty-four stakes winners (15% of foals) and an influence to the pedigrees of champions to come. On March 25, 1975, Herbager died at Claiborne Farm and was laid to rest at the equine cemetery in Claiborne’s Marchmont Farm division.
Grey Dawn II is by Herbager – Polamia by Mahmoud. His pedigree oozes with excellent broodmare sires top and bottom, so it is not a big surprise that he would follow in his ancestor’s hoof steps. Grey Dawn II on the race course was a high class individual winning the Grand Criterium (defeating Sea-Bird ), the Prix de la Salamandre and the Prix Morny to become the champion French two year old. At three he won the Prix de Fountainbleau, but missed most of the year due to nagging injuries.
Racing in the USA as a four year old, and trained by Horatio Luro, Grey Dawn II added the Brandywine Turf Cup to his list of wins. He was the only horse to ever beat Sea-Bird, who is considered by many as the best horse to ever race in Europe. Grey Dawn II was retired to stud at Domino Stud Farm in Lexington.
Grey Dawn II had a very successful career as a sire. One of his biggest winners on the track was Vigors. Vigors was a late developing sort and was equally adept on grass or dirt with his major victories in the Hollywood Invitational Handicap, the Santa Anita Handicap, the Rolling Green Handicap and the San Antonio Handicap in which he set a track record. Vigors had a spotty sire record but he did get the good Real Connection and Hodges Bay, both being $1 million plus earners.
Bounding Basque was another good racing son of Grey Dawn II. A good looking chestnut with four white socks and a white blaze, Bounding Basque won $1,256,258 in his racing career with his important victories being the Wood Memorial and the Brooklyn Handicap. Unfortunately he only had moderate success at stud although he did sire Basqueian, winner of the Queen’s Plate and Breeder’s Stakes as well as the Durham Cup (twice) and the Red Bank Handicap.
Grey Classic was another good colt by Grey Dawn II as he was 1985 champion two year old in Canada winning the Summer Stakes, the Cup and Saucer Stakes and the Coronation Futurity. Grey Classic was bred by Ernie Samuel, the owner of the very successful Sam-Son Farms breeding and racing enterprise in Canada. Grey Classic is from the great foundation mare No Class.
Among Grey Dawn II’s distaff runners were a pair of champion fillies in Heavenly Cause and Christmas Past. Christmas Past was the champion three year old filly in 1982 with major victories in the CCA Oaks by six lengths, the Monmouth Oaks, the Ruffian Handicap and the Poinsettia Stakes. The following season she beat the boys in the Gulfstream Handicap and then was retired to broodmare service.
Trained by Woody Stephens, Heavenly Cause won the Frizette Stakes and the Selima Stakes in her championship juvenile year. As a three year old she would add the Kentucky Oaks to her list of accomplishments beating De La Rose, Wayward Lass and Truly Bound. The Acorn Stakes was her next and last stakes victory in 1981.
Heavenly Cause was the dam of Two Punch by Mr. Prospector. Two Punch began his stud duty at the Windfields Maryland Division Northview Annex and was retained there after Windfields liquidated the farm in 1989. The stallion property became known as the Northview Stallion Station. He would become a very good sire getting fifty-four stakes winners of which his best was Smoke Glacken (Eclipse Champion Sprinter) a recently retired sire of importance.
Shy Dawn, a multiple graded stakes winner, produced Opening Verse by The Minstrel. Opening Verse raced at two and three in England and was trained by Henry Cecil. His biggest win came in the Tattersall’s Stakes at Newmarket. Sold to Allen Poulsen he raced two more years in the US with his major score coming in the 1991 Breeder’s Cup Mile.
Grey Dawn Girl was the dam of Zoffany by Our Native. He captured the Hollywood Turf Cup and the San Luis Rey Handicap before being exported to Australia where he stood at stud until his death aged eighteen. He is not to be confused with another horse with the same name racing in Ireland against the likes of Frankel.
Morning Games produced Alphabatim by Verbatim. He was a multi group/graded stakes winner in Europe and North America and then went to stud in Ireland. Mostly is another daughter of Grey Dawn II and produced a daughter named Primaly by Lord at War. She in turn was the dam of Whisky Wisdom, a multi graded stakes winner in North America.
Early Rising became another good producing broodmare by Grey Dawn II as she is the dam of St. Leger winner Silver Patriarch. Silver Patriarch was by Saddler’s Hall, a son of Sadler’s Wells, and would add the Gran Primo del Jockey Club and the Coronation Cup to his group one victory totals. Silver Patriarch stood at the National Stud in England where he died age fifteen of natural causes.
Stakes winner English Spring was a half sister to Dance of Life, a sire of note in Japan. English Spring was the dam of Fragrant Hill by Shirley Heights, winner of the Lupe Stakes in England but more importantly Fragrant Hill was the dam of group one winners Fragrant Mix (Grand Prix de Saint Cloud) and Alpine Rose (Prix de la Fosse). Both were sired by Linamix.
Grey Parlo was the dam of Waquoit by Relaunch. Waquoit would be a very successful runner earning over $2.2 million in his career. His major wins were in the Brooklyn Handicap (twice), The Michigan Mile & One Eighth, the Jamaica Handicap and a supreme performance in the Jockey Club Gold Cup which he won by fifteen lengths. He was supplemented to the 1988 Breeder’s Cup Classic but finished third to Alysheba. He stood at the Northview Stallion Station in Maryland where he died in 2007. The best horse he sired was grade one winner Halo America.
Herbager and Grey Dawn II represent a line of sires that seem to tenuously live on through the tail male line, but contribute as broodmare sires of significant influence. The Dark Ronald/Son in Law line, of which they descend, may not be as prominent as say the Phalaris line through Nearco and his descendants, but it is still going and contributing to advancing the breed.