The Keeneland sales have a long and storied history of selling top bloodstock which have made an impact on racing and breeding around the world. Perhaps one of the most influential of these was hip 110, who sold late on the evening of July 25, 1966. The chestnut yearling filly by Traffic Judge was consigned by the Virginia-based breeder Philip Connors and a half-sister to Journalist, winner of the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. Her dam, Stolen Hour, by Mr. Busher, was a stakes-placed full-sister to multiple stakes winner and sire Beau Busher and a half sister to the top handicap mare War Date.
Purchased for $25,000 and named Best In Show, the filly won five races from 27 starts over the next two years for Clearview Stable. With earnings of $53,380 and black-type courtesy of a win in the Comely Stakes at Aqueduct, Best In Show was then purchased by Anne Forsythe to begin her broodmare career.
And what a broodmare career she would have. For her first mate, the recently crowned Horse of the Year Buckpasser was chosen. The resulting filly, born in 1970, was purchased by leading breeder E.P. Taylor. While unraced, the mare named Sex Appeal provided the perfect complement to Taylor’s Kentucky Derby winner Northern Dancer. In total she would produce seven foals by this leading sire and another six by his sons.
Two of these colts were the Dewhurst Stakes-winning pair Try My Best and El Gran Senor. The older of the two, Try My Best, was purchased by Robert Sangster at the Keeneland July sale for $185,000 at a time when the Northern Dancer offspring were only averaging $105,000. Named champion two-year-old in England and Ireland under the guidance of Vincent O’Brian, Try My Best was moderately successful at stud but did manage to sire Breeders’ Cup Mile winner and successful Irish sire Last Tycoon.
Full brother El Gran Senor became a dual Classic winner at three for the same connections with wins in the Irish 2,000 Guineas and the Irish Derby. He was the beaten favourite in the Epsom Derby to another Windfields-bred son of Northern Dancer, Secreto, trained by Vincent’s son David. Retired to Coolmore’s American division, Ashford Stud, El Gran Senor became a very good stallion despite being plagued with fertility issues.
Two more brothers have also made an impact in the breeding shed. Compliance, who was stakes-placed in Ireland, is best known as siring the stakes-winning brothers Fourstarsallstar (winner of the Irish 2,000 Guineas) and the Saratoga multiple stakes-winning Fourstardave. Northern Guest, while never setting foot on the racetrack, became a leading sire in South Africa at Mick Goss’s Summerhill Stud.
Three full sisters to the above-named colts also left their mark on the industry as antecedents of Group 1 winners across the globe.
Golden Oriole, who had only one win from five starts, was a test of patience for her owners, as it was not until when her fifth foal, Devonwood, ran third in the Lawrence Realization Handicap that black-type would appear on her produce record. Her tenth foal, however, would become a top two-year-old. By Gone West, Castle Gandolfo raced in the colours of Susan Magnier, winning a Group 3 in Ireland at two before running second in both the Racing Post Trophy and the Criterium de Saint-Cloud. Retired to stud in Kentucky at Walmac International, Castle Gandolfo unfortunately died on his first shuttle trip to Chile.
Another daughter of Golden Oriole, Dance Fever (Fusaichi Pegasus), produced the Group 1-winning filly Estrella Monarchos in Brazil.
Bella Senora, the year-younger sister to Golden Oriole, is the second dam of Domedriver, winner of the 2002 Breeders’ Cup Mile for the Niarchos family. This powerful breeding operation would have further success with this family in the form of 2019 Prix Marcel Boussac winner Albigna.
Northern Prancer was the oldest of the Northern Dancer mares from Sex Appeal. She produced little in the way of runners but does appear as the third dam of $1.2 million earner Chinchon, a horse that won the United Nations Handicap at Monmouth Park and the Singapore Airlines International Cup. As a son of Marju, he also has the distinction of being inbred 3×3 to the full siblings Try My Best and Northern Prancer.
When bred to Northern Dancer’s top European miler son, Nureyev (then aged 21), Sex Appeal produced the filly Lotta Lace who now appears as the second dam Japanese wonder mare, Almond Eye. Already the winner of seven Group 1 races in Japan and Dubai, Almond Eye is still in training with an eye on more international prizes.
One of the few times Sex Appeal was not bred to Northern Dancer or his sons, she visited the court of Halo at Stone Farm in Paris, Kentucky. Having already won a Group 1 with her older sibling, Robert Sangster was eager to go back to the well and purchased the resulting filly, later named Solar. Sent to Ireland, she won all three starts at two including two Group 3 races which earned her the champion two-year-old filly title. Descendants of Solar include the English Group 1-winning sprinter and sire Bahamian Pirate, Australian Group 1 winner Takedown and Argentinian multiple Group 1 winner Que Vida Buena.
After producing the Irish champion juvenile, Malinowski, by Sir Ivor, Best In Show returned to Sir Ivor in 1974 to produce Minnie Hauk. Racing for Robert Sangster in Ireland, she was twice placed in stakes races at three before being sold privately to the Niarchos family. Like Sex Appeal before her, Minnie Hauk can now count 11 Group/Grade 1 winners among her descendants, the majority of which were bred and raced by Flaxman Holdings from their outstanding mare Aviance.
A foal of 1982 by Northern Dancer son Northfields, Aviance won the prestigious Heinz 57 Stakes against the colts at two. Her daughter Chimes of Freedom (by Private Account) did her one better by not only winning a Group 1 at two but also the Coronation Stakes at three. Chimes of Freedom carried on the tradition of producing Group 1 winners by doubling up with Good Journey (by Nureyev), winner of the Atto Mile at Woodbine, and champion sprinter Aldebaran (by Mr. Prospector).
When bred to the Gainesway stallion Riverman, Aviance produced the British two-year-old stakes winner Imperfect Circle, who in turn produced five-time Group 1-winning colt Spinning World. Another who raced for Flaxman, Spinning World was a top miler, winning among others the Irish 2,000 Guineas and Breeders’ Cup Mile.
“Like Sex Appeal before her, Minnie Hauk can now count 11 Group/Grade 1 winners among her descendants”
Spinning World made little impact on the North American breeding scene but sired a handful of Group 1 winners in the southern hemisphere. His half-sister, Visions Of Clarity, by Sadler’s Wells, produced a pair of Group 1 winners, Pathfork (by Distorted Humor), winner of the National Stakes in Ireland at two, and War Of Will (by War Front) winner of the 2019 Preakness Stakes and this year’s Maker’s Mark Mile at Keeneland.
Aviance produced a full sister to Chimes of Freedom named Piquetnol in 1992, who managed a Group 1 placing when second in the Prix Marcel Boussac. In 1999, Flaxman Holdings decided to part ways with her second foal, a daughter of the red hot sire Storm Cat. The Coolmore partners had previous success with Minnie Hauk’s Sadler’s Wells colt, Chief Contender (winner of the Prix du Cadran), along with offspring of Storm Cat, so it came as no surprise that it was Demi O’Byrne, acting on behalf of Coolmore, who signed the ticket for the $2 million dollar yearling at the Keeneland September Sale. Named Dietrich, she won two Group 3 events in England and Ireland and now is producing stakes winners for the same operation.
Aviance continued to produce stakes winners for Flaxman Holdings including the 1998 Pleasant Colony colt, Denon. A Group 3 winner in France with Jonathon Pease at two, Denon was later transferred to the care of Bobby Frankel in the US where he won four Grade 1 races and earned over $1.74 million. A half-sister to Denon produced multiple Group 1 winner Saddex (Sadler’s Wells) and is also the second dam of Lizzie L’Amour (Zabeel), winner of two Group 1 races in New Zealand.
The Australian breeding and racing industry benefitted significantly from another branch of Best In Show. Show Lady was the third foal by Sir Ivor produced by the great mare. Unlike her full-siblings before her, she never made it to the track but made up for the lack of her own black-type by producing eight winners herself and becoming the ancestress of nine Group 1 winners in Australia.
The majority of these descend from her daughter Dancing Show, by Nijinsky. Exported to New Zealand in 1988, Dancing Show was carrying at the time her first Group 1 winner, Umatilla, by the Mr. Prospector son Miswaki. Her next foal was the Blue Diamond Stakes winner Hurricane Sky, a son of the Golden Slipper Stakes winner Star Watch. Both of these colts would go on to have successful stallion careers in Australia.
The following year, Show Lady produced the Canny Lad filly Shantha’s Choice, who would become one of Australia’s best producers of recent times. From 11 foals, seven would race and all seven would earn black-type.
Her first foal was the four-time Group 1 winner Redoute’s Choice (by Danehill). Not only a superior racehorse, Redoute’s Choice became a three-time leading sire in Australia for Arrowfield Stud. Demand for his foals was so great in 2013 that he famously became one of the first reverse shuttlers to make the trip from Australia to France to stand at the Aga Khan’s Haras de Bonneval.
Shantha’s Choice produced three more stakes horses with consecutive visits to Danehill. Platinum Scissors won the Spring Champion Stakes and won or placed in an additional ten graded stakes.
After the death of Danehill in 2002, Shantha’s Choice continued to produce top stock with her new chosen mates. Manhattan Rain, by Encosta De Lago, was a Group 1 winner and four times Group 1-placed. His full brother, Echoes Of Heaven, was a stakes winner and Group 1-placed, and Sliding Cube, by Rock of Gibraltar, was a Group 3 winner and Group 2-placed.
Additional Australian Group 1 winners descending from Show Lady include: Shoals, He’s No Pie Eater, Al Maher and Gathering.
The international breeding operation of Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms would reap the rewards of the third daughter of Sir Ivor out of Best In Show. By this time, Best In Show had been bought by Darrell and Lindy Brown of Stonereath Stud in Paris, Kentucky, who sold the filly later named Monroe at the 1978 Keeneland July Sale for $300,000 to Robert Sangster.
Sent to Ireland, she displayed enough early talent to run second in the Phoenix Stakes at two, and earned a Group 3 in the Ballyogan Stakes the following year. In a private transaction, she was acquired by Juddmonte and sent to their paddocks in England. She produced three stakes-winning colts including the dual Group 1 winning juvenile, Xaar, by their own stallion Zafonic.
“The branches of her family tree have spread far and wide providing classic winners and champions across the globe”
The leading earner from the Monroe family is the Juddmonte-bred filly Close Hatches, again a product of a strong homebred operation, being by Juddmonte’s homebred Grade 1 winner First Defence. Close Hatches won five Grade 1 races in the US and was voted the Eclipse Champion Older Female in 2014. Her 2016 colt, Tacitus (by Tapit), won the 2019 Wood Memorial and also ran second in the Belmont and Travers Stakes.
In 2020, the closely related Siskin (by First Defence out of the dam of Close Hatches) gave Juddmonte another homebred classic win when taking the Irish 2,000 Guineas, having already been a Group 1 winner at two.
Other Group 1 winners from the female descendants of Monroe include: Cityscape (by Selkirk), winner of the Dubai Duty Free, Logician (by Frankel), winner of the 2019 St Leger and American dual Grade 1 winner Senure (by Nureyev). In addition, there are a handful of Group 1 performers including: five-time Group 1-placed Bated Breath, now a successful sire, and current sprinter Equilateral, who finished second in this year’s King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.
BLUSH WITH PRIDE
Best In Show must have felt like a regular at the Claiborne breeding shed as she visited Sir Ivor for the fifth time in six years, this time producing the top English juvenile colt Gielgud. As a yearling, he realised $235,000 at the Keeneland July Sale when purchased by Charles St. George, who had previous stakes success with his full brother Malinowski.
In 1978, however, she was diverted to the Gainesway breeding shed for a date with European dual champion and first-year sire Blushing Groom. The resulting foal, Blush With Pride, would help propel Blushing Groom to a leading sire category and eventually a leading broodmare sire.
Retained by her breeders, Blush With Pride was trained by D. Wayne Lukas and became the first and only foal of Best In Show to win a stakes in America. Stakes-placed at two, Blush With Pride won the Santa Susana Stakes at Santa Anita prior to shipping to Keeneland to take the Ashland Stakes. These races set her up for a win at Churchill Downs 13 days later in the Kentucky Oaks; at the age of 14, Best In Show had now produced her own classic winner to match the achievements of her daughters.
As a classic winner out of a Kentucky Broodmare of the Year, expectations were high for the produce of Blush With Pride and she did not disappoint. On the cover to Deputy Minister, she produced Demoiselle Stakes winner Better Than Honour, who earned Kentucky Broodmare of the Year title herself after producing consecutive Belmont Stakes winners in Jazil and Rags to Riches. As a result, the mare realised a world record price for a broodmare when Southern Equine bought out partner John Sikura for $14 million at the 2008 Fasig-Tipton November Sale.
Better Than Honour’s daughter Teeming (by Storm Cat) also produced the Hollywood Starlet Stakes winner Streaming along with four other stakes horses.
In the ownership of Coolmore, Blush With Pride produced Maryinsky by their star stallion Sadler’s Wells. After a race career that saw her run second in the Fillies Mile at Ascot, Maryinsky produced another classic winner for this branch of the family when her Danehill daughter, Peeping Fawn, won the Irish Oaks. Sent to Japan to be covered by leading sire Deep Impact, Peeping Fawn produced the Irish-foaled September, who like her second dam finished second in the Fillies Mile.
Maryinsky also produced the Group 1 French winning juvenile Thewayyouare to Kingmambo.
Late in her career Best In Show produced two more daughters which would further enhance the family tree.
Nijinsky’s Best (by Nijinsky), foaled in 1983, was unraced but produced the $1.7 million earner Yagli (by Jade Hunter). Racing for the late Allen Paulson, Yagli became a top handicap turf performer, winning a trio of Grade 1 races at the age of six.
When Best In Show was 22-years-old, she produced the final daughter to add black-type to the family. Perfect Isn’t Easy, by Saratoga Six, was unplaced in four starts and her 14 foals only managed four wins between them, but the dormant genes of this family came to the surface in the third generation when Dr. Russell Cohen’s What A Pear (by E. Dubai) won a pair of stakes races at Aqueduct.
Bred to Mineshaft upon completion of her racing career, she gave birth to a healthy colt but she herself did not survive the foaling. Raised on a nurse mare, the tough Mineshaft colt developed into top handicapper Effinex, winner of the Clark and Suburban Handicaps, the latter on two occasions. In an unfortunate strange coincidence, Effinex like his dam failed to see a second breeding season when he died suddenly in the fall of 2017.
This chestnut filly of 1965 was born in Virginia, a state with strong roots in the evolution of North American racing, but the branches of her family tree have spread far and wide providing Classic winners and champions across the globe.
A total of 155 stakes winners descend from her direct female line through Sex Appeal (58 stakes winners), Star of Bagdad (1), Minnie Hauk (30), Monroe (32), Blush With Pride (26), Nijinskys Best (2), Perfect Isn’t Easy (2) alongside the four stakes-winning offspring of the mare herself. There are also 24 stakes winners inbred to Best In Show, including seven Group/Grade 1 winners.