Himyar's Other Line

Last week we looked at the Domino sire line. As a few readers have pointed out, Domino represents only one branch of the Himyar (pedigree) bloodline.

Even stepping back in the pedigree and looking at Himyar's larger line, there's only one additional source in most breeding populations, coming through his son Plaudit. Rough'n Tumble (pedigree) looked promising for a while there, with Flag Raiser and Dr. Fager and several other well-regarded sons -- but the only tail-male source widely available now is through Minnesota Mac to Great Above to Holy Bull (on SRO), who is not only active but has some promising sons starting to emerge.

The fact that Himyar has not one but two quality sire lines in America today is quite a feat.  For the most part, the Eclipse tail-male bloodline split after his great-grandson Whalebone (pedigree), and that stallion's son Sir Hercules is responsible for most of the sire lines today -- including Teddy and Swynford and all the Phalaris lines (Nasrullah, Bold Ruler, Northern Dancer, Raise a Native, Turn-to, and others). Himyar descended from another Whalebone son, Camel (pedigree), who is distinguished by being the great-great grandson of Eclipse (1764) and the great grandsire of Eclipse (1855) -- just to throw some fun confusion into the mix. 

It was the younger Eclipse who sired Himyar's sire Alarm, who crossed with a Lexington (pedigree) mare to produce Himyar. As was the case with so many of the breed-shaping Thoroughbreds from the 1800s, Himyar was the result of masterful inbreeding and linebreeding. He is inbred to the Cerberus Mare (pedigree), who is herself a wonderful example of inbreeding, with crosses to Herod (4x3x4x5), Eclipse (4x4), Tartar (5x5x4x5), Marske (5x4x5), and Blank (5x5) in her five-cross pedigree.

(Eclipse's blood survives through King Fergus (pedigree) as well; we'll explore that stallion's line some time soon.)

So, when Himyar was 20, he sired Plaudit, who is the ninth sire of Holy Bull.  Holy Bull was one of those horses who didn't play around on the track: his record was 13 wins from 16 starts and earnings of nearly $2.5 million. And those 13 wins weren't cake walks, either -- they included six grade I trips, three grade IIs, and a couple of additional stakes. He won races as long as a mile and a quarter (the grade I Travers in 1994) and as short as a 5-1/2 furlongs (his MSW as a 2-year-old), and earned Horse of the Year honors in 1994 despite an uncharacteristically poor performance in that year's Kentucky Derby.

When he retired, racing lost one of its fiercest competitors. Who knew his best was yet to come?

As a sire, Holy Bull has an impressive 70 stakes horses from 519 starters and 354 winners, including 13 graded winners and $32.6 million in progeny earnings. He outperforms most sires in 2-year-old progeny -- both starters and earnings -- a fact that is certainly a factor in his nearly-$72,000 lifetime yearling average, which is 1.45 times the national average.

Holy Bull has sons standing in California, Iowa, Kentucky, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and West Virginia, as well as in Ontario. (For a list of his most commercial sons, type "Holy Bull" in the "Sire of Stallion" field of the Stallion Register Online's advanced search.) 

Between Broad Brush and Holy Bull and their sons, the Himyar line appears to have a couple of good opportunities to carry on; their blood becomes more and more valuable to breeders seeking diversity as other sire lines become non-viable.

... And now, readers, it's your turn to comment. Do you have any special memories of Holy Bull or Broad Brush or their sons (and daughters)?  Are you a fan of these or other "rare" sire lines?  Who would you like to see profiled in the future?

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