Rough Shod II

Rough Shod II

In a manner of acquisition very similar to the purchase of La Troienne, Rough Shod II was purchased by A.B. “Bull” Hancock at the December Sales at Newmarket in 1951. Hancock purchased four mares from this sale. One of which was Knight’s Daughter from a consignment of King George VI, who two years later would produce champion Round Table by Princequillo. Rough Shod was sold in foal to 2000 Guineas winner My Babu, and upon arrival in the US became Rough Shod II.

Hancock had purchased the mare initially for his own Claiborne Farm but sold her to T. M. Girdler. Girdler bred five foals from the mare before Hancock re-acquired her for his breeding operation. She was a tall rangy type of mare by Gold Bridge – Dalmary by Blandford, and had previously had one foal, a runner of little remembrance named Sollander.

Her sire Gold Bridge was a speedy horse who won the King’s Stand Stakes twice as well as the Nunthorpe Stakes and the Prix de la Pepiniere. At stud he had good success siring classy sprinters including Vilmorin (King’s Stand Stakes), who is broodmare sire of important sires Zeddaan and Queen’s Hussar, and Golden Cloud (Nunthorpe Stakes). Gold Bridge is a direct male line descendant of Ormonde, fifth generation. Dalmary, a daughter of the successful sire Blandford, a son of Swynford, won the Yorkshire Oaks in 1934. Dalmary was inbred to both St. Simon (5 x 3) and Isinglass (4 x 3). Rough Shod was her eighth foal.

Rough Shod II won only one race from seven starts in England. “Bull” Hancock was especially interested in her because of her out cross pedigree to American bloodlines and the speed/stamina mix in her breeding. Hancock was also, as were many breeders, a big fan of St. Simon within pedigrees and since this mare carried two crosses of the great sire, “Bull” was keen to bring her home. However, Hancock was always cognisant of keeping his friends and clients happy, thus the sale to of this promising mare to T. M. Girdler.

The foal Rough Shod II was carrying by My Babu was a daughter to be named Gambetta. This honest filly won both the Debutante and Susan Stakes at two. Later she became famous when she produced Gamely by Bold Ruler. Gamely won the Beldame Stakes twice, Test Stakes, Alabama Stakes, Diana Handicap and Santa Margarita Handicap. Her sixteen wins from forty-one starts distinguished Gamely to a Hall of Fame induction. Gambetta also was the dam of Staretta sired by Dark Star, the horse that conquered Native Dancer in the Kentucky Derby. Staretta won the Colonial Stakes and was well raced, making fifty-three starts in her lifetime. Staretta’s daughter Star Strewn produced Asteroid Field (Matriarch Stakes).

Another daughter of Gambetta was Zonah by Nasrullah, dam of champion Drumtop, a mare who was good enough to beat Fort Marcy, and became the dam of Topsider (Sport Page Handicap and a successful sire). Zonah also produced stakes placed Zonely, dam of Victory Zone (Hollywood Derby).

Girdler bred Rough Shod II to Nantallah, a stakes placed son of Nasrullah, standing at Claiborne Farm. Nantallah was one of a select few sires to be given a chance at stud in an established well connected breeding farm, on his pedigree alone. Nantallah had a less than stellar racing record. He was consistently plagued with injuries in his brief seven race career. However he did manage four victories and placed in two stake races. The result of this mating with Rough Shod II would be a colt named Ridan.

Sold as a yearling to the partnership of Moody Jolley, John L. Greer and Ernest Woods, Ridan became the champion two year old in 1961. Ridan won the Arlington Futurity and Washington Park Futurity during his championship season. As a three year old Ridan won the Florida Derby, Blue Grass Stakes and Arlington Classic. His second place finish by a nose to Jaipur in the Travers Stakes is still considered as one of the most exciting duels in American turf history. As a four year old he won the Palm Beach Handicap over Kelso and his arch rival Jaipur. His career ended not long afterwards when he injured an ankle. Ridan stood at stud in Kentucky, Ireland and Australia, where he died of a twisted intestine in 1977. He sired thirty-one stakes winners from three hundred and thirty-one foals.

Girdler also bred Rough Shod II to Arise, Nasrullah and Dark Star prior to breeding her to Nantallah. The resulting foals in order were a filly Rough Morning, another filly Ruffrullah and a colt Dark Fate. None of these offspring became stakes winners or contributors to the Rough Shod II legacy.

Rough Shod II was sold by T. M. Girdler back to “Bull” Hancock who in turn brought in William Haggin Perry as a partner in the mare. The first foal for the two partners Rough Shod II would throw was a full brother to Ridan named Lt. Stevens. While not as accomplished on the track as his brother, Lt. Stevens was no slouch either. He won the Saranac, John B. Campbell and Palm Beach Handicaps and was generally better at sprint distances than longer events. As a sire he was consistent and got fifty stakes winners, but nothing of major or lasting fame. He is however the broodmare sire of Horse of the Year Alysheba.

Gay Shoes by Double Jay, the next foal from Rough Shod II, was unraced and did not leave any offspring. You may wonder by now why I should include Rough Shod II in this chapter of great broodmares. Well her next two foals, both daughters of Nantallah, would cement her legacy as a foundation mare for many of the champions of today.

Moccasin by Nantallah is the first of the two. She was both brilliant on the track and was able to reproduce herself as a broodmare, a rare commodity. Moccasin was the champion two year old in 1965 and was also named as Horse of the Year. She is the only two year old filly to be so honoured in the US. Her championship season included victories in the Gardenia, Matron, Selima, Spinaway and Alcibiades Stakes. At three she took the Test Stakes and at four the Phoenix Handicap. Retired to the breeding arena with a career record of 11-2-4 from twenty-one starts, Moccasin later became an outstanding broodmare.

Moccasin produced nine foals, seven of which were stakes winners, two became champions. Apalachee by Round Table was her best. As a two year old he won the Observer Gold Cup thus being named the divisional champion. At three Apalachee won the Gladness Stakes, in his preparation for the 2000 Guineas remaining undefeated. He ran third in the big event to two other crack milers in Nonoalco and Giacometti. Apalachee had developed a respiratory problem which was not getting any better, so his trainer Vincent O’Brien advised to retire him from further racing.

Apalachee became successful, one of the better sons of Round Table, at stud siring many top sprinters. This was quite against the norm for sons of Round Table at stud. The latter’s sons tended to get middle distance types. Many conjecture the source of Apalchee’s speed biased offspring was undoubtedly associated with Moccasin and Rough Shod II. He sired Pine Tree Lane (Carter Handicap), Dance For Donna (Canadian Champion Mare), Apalachee Honey (Sorority Stakes), Up The Apalachee (Alabama Stakes) and is the broodmare sire of champion sprinter Artax. Apalachee stood his entire career at Gainesway Stud, where he died in 1996, after siring fifty-seven stakes winners.

Belted Earl by Damascus was the other champion produced by Moccasin. An expensive $650,000 yearling purchase in 1979, Belted Earl won his championship in Ireland. He was named as the top sprinter and older male horse after his major victory in the Greenlands Stakes. Belted Earl had limited success as a sire standing at Winfield Nursery in Kentucky however.

The other stakes winners Moccasin produced includes Flippers (Pocahontas Stakes) by Coastal who is the dam of grade one winner Hail Atlantis. She in turn is the dam of current successful sire Stormy Atlantic. Indian (Eden Park Stakes) by Round Table, Nantequos (Whitehall Stakes) by Tom Rolfe, Scuff (Kilijaro Stakes) by Forli is also the dam of stakes winner Ebros, and Brahms (Railway Stakes) by Round Table, complete the list of Moccasin stakes wining offspring.

Rough Shod II produced another filly by Nantallah that, although not as accomplished a racer as Moccasin, would exhibit class. Thong was bred the year after her sister and won five races from twenty-two starts, placing in the Alcibiades and Selima Stakes. Her value as a broodmare is however of great influence. Thong’s first foal was Irish Champion Two Year Old Thatch by Forli. Thatch won the group one Sussex Stakes, St. James Palace Stakes and July Cup as a three year old, thus earning his second championship as the best miler in England. Retired to stud in Ireland at Coolmore in 1974, Thatch would have a successful but short career as a sire. Among his best were champion sprinter Thatching (July Cup) a good sire in his own right, Final Straw (Champagne Stakes), Tommy Way (Derby Italiano), Shulich (Gran Premio de Milano). Thatch is the broodmare sire of Shahrastani (Epsom Derby). Unfortunately Thatch died at the age of thirteen.

Thong also produced another pair of notable sons in King Pellinore (Oak Tree Invitational) by Round Table and Geiger Counter by Mr. Prospector. The latter became a successful sire beginning in Canada, then Kentucky and Australia. Daughters of Thong include Espadrille (Busanda Stakes) by Damascus who is the dam of Pump, dam of Classic Sport (E.F.B. Stakes) and Docksider (Hong Kong Mile). Thong’s daughter Lisadell (Coronation Stakes) by Forli is the dam of Yeats (a leading sire in Australia), and Fatherland (National Stakes).

Thong produced another daughter by Forli who became a broodmare of enormous influence. This would be the appropriately named Special, for she was very special indeed. Special is a non winner of one race due to a severe bleeding problem. As a producer of champions and very influential sires, Special has few equals.

Special’s first foal was Nureyev by Northern Dancer. Champion miler in France in 1980, Nureyev became a leading sire of one hundred and thirty-five stakes winners. Nine of his get became champions themselves and include the likes of Theatrical, Peintre Celebre and the incredible Miesque.

Special also produced Bound (Churchill Downs Breeder’s Cup Stakes) by Nijinsky. Bound in turn produced group one winner Archipenko by Kingmambo. Archipenko is inbred to Special 4×2, as his sire is a son of Miesque. Bound’s stakes placed daughter Liable by Seeking The Gold is the dam of Eclipse champion Blame. Blame won nine of thirteen races and never finished out of the money. His most famous win was in the 2010 Breeder’s Cup Classic when he handed the immortal Zenyatta her only defeat. He is currently standing at Claiborne Farm, thus returning the line back to its roots.

Number (Firenze and Hempstead Handicaps) was an older full sister to Bound. This daughter of Special became the dam of Jade Robbery (Grand Criterium). Number is the third dam of grade one stake winner Corinthian (Metropolitan Handicap) and stakes winners Desert Hero, Be Fruitful, Triple Act, Emtyazat and Vitruvius.

Fairy Bridge by Bold Reason, has become a very famous daughter of Special. When bred to Northern Dancer, Fairy Bridge produced Tate Gallery (National Stakes) and Fairy King a non winner of one race but a successful sire of grade/group one winners. The first foal from the Northern Dancer/Fairy Bridge union resulted with a colt named Sadler’s Wells. Sadler’s Wells was a multiple group one stakes winners and later became the most successful sire in the world during his stud career. His champion sons Galileo, El Prado and Montjeu have continued the line to great success today.

Returning to Rough Shod II, she had one more foal after the influential Thong branch of her legacy. Sired by Sir Gaylord, the colt from this mating named Cleat was unraced and unfortunately died at the age of three.

The family of this great matriarch named Rough Shod II is both impressive and enduring. She is a testament to the faith of “Bull” Hancock’s belief in Rough Shod II and his ability to recognise a solid pedigree compatible to existing bloodlines available to him and his clients. Rough Shod II was not only a great producer of stakes winners, but also is the founding ancestress of a dynasty.

(Photo courtesy of Claiborne Farm Archives)


  • I am buying a mare named Electric Boat, she traces directly to Rough Shod II thru Gambetta. I am breeding her to Greydar. Very excited to add a mare from a Blue Hen family to my humble broodmare band. Thanks for your site.

  • I love this family
    I have 3 mares sired by Geiger Counter for this very reason
    All older now but they are gold to me 🙂

    Smytzer Trish AUS
    Stakes winner and Stakes producer

    Dreamtime AUS
    Family of Danehill Dancer

    Miracle Queen AUS
    Winner 100k and 100% winners

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