Proud Spell (pedigree), winner of today's $600,000 Alabama Stakes (gr. I), is a representative of family 4-m. Her distant cousin, family 4-k member Music Note (pedigree), finished a neck behind in Saratoga's historic race (full race coverage here).
Croft's Spinster (a.k.a. the Widdrington Mare, born 1735) is Proud Spell's 25th dam and is also Music Note's 21st dam.
Thoroughbred families are a fascinating study. I try to note family numbers in my articles when appropriate and will discuss some of the individual families in the future. Proud Spell and Music Note give me a great excuse to bring up the subject today, as well as to link to a couple of excellent Web resources that are a great reference to the Thoroughbred female family system.
The first is the Thoroughbred Heritage site's page about Family 4: Layton Barb Mare
. This resource gives a nice compact overview of the genesis of family 4. Don't miss the "View Descent Chart" link at the top of the page -- it will pop up a great flow chart that shows the start of each branch of family 4.
The second Web site you'll want to bookmark is the Thoroughbred Bloodlines site and its Family 4
page. Here you'll find a similar descent chart, this time with each branch tagged with a clickable link that brings you to a new flow chart that brings the branch forward and indicates the active lines from the given family subset.
Congratulations to Croft's Spinster -- it might be 273 years since she was born, but her influence on the breed continues!
(And I can't help but say that I like family 4-m for another reason: Request for Parole (SRO) hails from this branch. I've mentioned before how much I like this Pennsylvania stallion.... Request for Parole's 13th dam and Proud Spell's 14th dam are the same mare, Maggie B B, who was born in 1867.)