S. A. - Santa Anita or South America?

Courtesy of Becky Johnston

The 72nd Sanita Anita Handicap will be run Saturday.   There are four South American and three European bred runners in the field of fourteen.  (Matto Mondo CHI, Heroi Do Bafra BRZ, Magnum ARG, Einstein BRZ, Dansant GB, Zambezi Sun GB, Champs Elysees GB)

The 1985 running of the Santa Anita Handicap featured an Argentinian champion miler.  The son of General (FR) out of Luna de Miel (ARG) by Con Brio (ARG) came to this country as a four-year old in 1984.  The Peter Perkins (Haras San Francisco de Pilar) owned Lord at War (ARG) made an innocuous start on August second for trainer Charlie Whittingham at Del Mar in a seven and a half furlong allowance test on the turf.  He was coming off a long layoff and went off at 3-2 odds.  He ran third with Willie Shoemaker up that day.

Four weeks later, the chestnut tried the allowance ranks again, stretching out to a mile on the dirt.  He won by a head, again at 3-2, in 1:34 2/5. 

Next up was the October 10th Yankee Valor Handicap, where he ran third in the mile and a sixteenth dirt stakes.  He would not finish out of the top spot again until May.  He wheeled off November wins in the Goodwood Handicap and the Citation, run on a sloppy main track that year. 

Three days before Christmas, he won the Native Diver Handicap, before taking a two month hiatus in preparation for a run at the Big Cap.  He prepped in the San Antonio in February, defeating another Perkins bred horse, Al Mamoon.  The runner-up was owned by Bert Firestone and Edmund Gann, trained by Bobby Frankel.  The four-year-old by Believe it was out of the Secretariat mare, Lady Winborne. 

The Big Cap attracted a field of only seven that year and Lord at War was the second choice behind the quirky Jack Van Berg trainee, Gate Dancer.  The field also included Eugene Klein's filly Life's Magic and the speedy Greinton (GB), whom Charlie Whittingham also trained.  The field was completed by Hail Bold King, Ayman and My Habitony.

Lord at War shared top weight of 125 with the favored Gate Dancer, giving up five to fourteen pounds.  The filly carried 117. 


1985 Santa Anita Handicap


Shoemaker and Lord at War (ARG) came out on top that day in 2:00 3/5 seconds.

When he was retired to stud in 1986, Lord at War presented a great outcross to many mares in this country with his European and Argentine roots.  It had been 18 years since Bull Hancock stood another chestnut South American champion named Forli (ARG).  He also found his way to The Bald Eagle and California in 1967.  Forli won twice and placed second in the Citation Handicap, his only loss, before retiring to stud in Kentucky for the '68 season.

Forli was by multiple European stakes winner Aristophanes (GB) out of the Advocate (GB) mare Trevisa (ARG).  Lord at War also traces back to Aristophanes through his second dam Good Will (ARG) sired by Aristophanes' son Atlas (ARG). 

Although Forli produced the great Forego, a three time Horse of the Year, in just his second crop, his most lasting effect on the breed was achieved, like Lord at War, through his fillies. 

Forli is the broodmare sire of Belmont Stakes Winner Swale and Breeders' Cup Sprint Winner Precisionist.  He also sired a filly named Special for Claiborne in his first crop.  She was out of the Nantallah mare Thong.  Special produced the filly Fairy Bridge by Bold Reason in 1975. 

As told in the book Horsetrader by Patrick and Nick Robinson, Billy McDonald, an acquaintance of Robert Sangster, was along on a Kentucky shopping trip.  He, Sangster, Vincent O'Brien and John Magnier were making barn rounds to see the entries for the select yearling sale and so the story goes.

.....The scene was Claiborne Farm.  Robert and his men had gone there early to see the yearlings before they went to the sale and Billy McDonald had decided to short-circuit the conventional way of perusing the young horses.  Taking the yearling manager aside, he pressed a $100 bill into his hand and said, ‘Which one do YOU like best?'

    ‘Oh, I'd go for the little Bold Reason filly every time,' he replied.  ‘They always race over to this gate from right across the far side of the paddock and that little filly is always yards in front when they arrive.  SHE is a racehorse.'

Everyone cringed when McDonald announced he was buying the filly they deemed too small, with or without them.  He paid for $40,000 for the competitive pint-size filly.  Soon after, the other three gave in and partnered with him on Fairy Bridge and eventually bought Billy's share also.

Fairy Bridge raced twice in 1977 winning both races.  She was named top two-year-old Irish filly that year, the same year that Special would produce a foal by Northern Dancer (CAN).  Stavros Niarchos would later pay $1,300,000 for the colt at the Keeneland yearling sale.

The Sangster group showed some uncharacteristic confusion about bidding on the colt at $1,400,000 and while discussing the matter they gave the impression they were done and Keeneland pushed the sale through before Vincent O'Brien could indicate they wanted to move forward.  A colt they sorely wanted to own now belonged to the shipping tycoon, Niarchos.  He named him Nureyev.

The Sangster group did not fare too badly though.  Their little filly, Fairy Bridge, out of the same broodmare Special by Forli, produced her own colt by Northern Dancer in 1981.  The colt would rewrite record books in the breeding shed.  His name was Sadler's Wells.

The Sangster group got a matchup in 1984 against the Niarchos' Seattle Song with their Sadler's Wells.


1984 Phoenix Champion Stakes


Lord at War

The stallion was euthanized in 1998.  Ironically, he did so by kicking a bucket of all things.  The kick tore a tendon in his rear leg while he was attempting to cover a mare.  After 25 days in the hospital, the promising stallion was gone at 18.  Forli had lived to 25.

Like his fellow South American, Lord at War left us with a great group of broodmares.  Here is a look at some of the daughters of Lord at War, their impressive credentials and a few of their impressive offspring.


The Girls

Ascutney out of the Verbatim mare Right Word found her way to Hollywood Park to race for owners December Hill Farm in 1996.  Watch this effortless run to the wire.

1996 Miesque Stakes.


Ascutney produced the stakes winner Gigawatt (by Wild Again) in 2000, but her foal of 2005 liked to outshine them all by winning over $3,500,000.  He would surprise many on this continent on Breeders' Cup day.  First, here is her son, Raven's Pass by Elusive Quality at Ascot facing his nemesis Henrythenavigator.

2008 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes 


2008 Breeders' Cup Classic from Santa Anita


Right Word was mated several times with Lord at War and she is also the sire of the $700,000 earner Words of War.  Her 1998 offspring is E Dubai by Mr. Prospector.

2002 Surburban Handicap


Another very good mare was La Gueriere.  Remember Al Mamoon from the San Antonio Handicap?  This is his half-sister by Lord at War out of Lady Winborne at Keeneland in 1992.


1992 Bewitched Stakes


She produced a Grade 2 winning colt by With Approval in 1994 named Lasting Approval.  He in turn sired the mare Honey Ryder who earned over $2,700,000 and ran second in the 2007 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf. 


2007 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf


Honey Ryder, out of Cuando Quiere by Affirmed, has been bred to Kingmambo.

Lady Lochinvar, a full sister to La Gueriere, out of Lady Winborne, was a 1993 foal and her 2002 offspring, Master Command by A.P. Indy, made an odds-on appearance at the Fair Grounds in 2007.


2007 New Orleans Handicap


Another Lord at War daughter, Primarily out of the Grey Dawn (FR) mare Mostly, produced the Lemon Drop Kid filly Citronnade.  Here she is in the 2007 at Santa Anita.


2007 San Gorgonio Handicap


Sweetest Lady, another daughter of Lord at War from The Pruner mare Sweetest Roman, produced the 2002 Kentucky Derby winner, War Emblem by Our Emblem.


2002 Kentucky Derby


Now the question this spring is can Pioneerof the Nile (Empire Maker out of Star of Goshen by Lord at War) return Bob Baffert to the Kentucky Derby winner's circle?


2009 Bob Lewis Stakes


Lord at War is the Broodmare sire of other stakes horses like Boss Lafitte, Forefathers,Malhado Island, Taiki Zillion among many others.

He has also sired stakes horses like Johns Call, Lord of Warriors, Honor in War, Ask the Lord, Mighty, Stop Watch, and Patton.


Argentine Success

It's not an easy thing to import a stallion from South America and have them stand successfully in this country because as good as an outcross is, an unknown outcross can be scary to commercial breeders.  Bull Hancock did it successfully with Forli and now Peter and Diane Perkins can say the same for their Lord at War. 

Last year's Breeders' Cup races featured six winners that either carried the blood of Lord at War or Forli. 

Maram - Forli through sire (Juvenile Turf)

Zenyatta - Forli through her second dam (Ladies Classic)

Muhannak - Forli through dam's sire (Marathon)

Desert Code - Lord at War through sire's dam (Turf Sprint)

Conduit - Forli through his broodmare sire (Turf)

Raven's  Pass - Lord at War through broodmare sire. (Classic)

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