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
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
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
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
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
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
2008 Breeders' Cup Classic from
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
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
2007 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare
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 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
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.
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.