Watching Saratoga’s Aug. 19 Alabama Stakes (G1) from afar, we were reassured to see a healthy crowd in upstate New York taking in a delightful summer day of racing. The swells filled America’s grandest grandstand and watched as venerable Claiborne Farm, with partner Adele Dilschneider, took the day’s top prize in the $600,000 race with homebred Elate.
While Dilschneider’s battle-grey and blue silks flew under the line—an impressive 5 1/2 lengths in front—for the first time in the Alabama, Claiborne Farm has been involved with several Alabama winners, and Elate’s family has a steeped tradition in producing many top winners of the prime races at the Spa.
Elate’s family notes show that her second dam, the Claiborne and Dilschneider-bred and raced Yell, is a half sister to Eastern Echo. Paul Mellon’s brilliant 2-year-old drew plenty of attention in the summer of 1990 when the Mack Miller-trained colt broke his maiden at Saratoga first time out, getting five furlongs in :58 under Jerry Bailey. A son of Damascus—Wild Applause, by Northern Dancer, Eastern Echo had an all-to-brief career, over by mid September after a two-length score in Belmont Park’s Futurity Stakes (G1), but he would go on to sire 27 stakes winners while standing at Lane’s End Farm in Kentucky and later in Maryland.
Wild Applause, who, by the way, won the grade 2 Diana Handicap at Saratoga, is a half sister to Sea Hero, winner of the 1993 Travers Stakes (G1) at Saratoga, where his statue stands tall in the paddock. Wild Applause is also a half sister to Glowing Honor, a two-time winner of the Diana Handicap, and to Coronation Cup, winner of Saratoga’s Nijana Stakes (G3T) in the summer of 1994.
Wild Applause, prolific as a broodmare, is the dam of Claiborne and Dilschneider’s homebred Praise, the dam of homebred Flatter, who stands at Claiborne. Wild Applause is also the dam of Queens Wild, the second dam of Stuart Janney III’s homebred Ironicus, who also resides in Claiborne’s stallion barn.
While the “orange” silks of Claiborne are missing from the list of recent Alabama winners, the Phipps family’s famed black with cherry cap silks have made their way to the winner’s circle after Pine Island’s Alabama in 2006 and with Heavenly Prize in 1994. The Phipps family has long kept their broodmare band at Claiborne Farm, with Claiborne standing their best racing sons at stud as well.
Watching this year’s Alabama made us recall our first venture to Saratoga, which was for the Alabama of 1982. The race featured the Phipps’ runner Dance Number, who finished fourth as the 7-2 third choice that day behind the Jim Maloney-trained pair of Broom Dance and Too Chic, and Mademoiselle Forli. Dance Number would become a grade 1 winner the following year and today graces the pedigrees of more top winners than we can shake a stick at.
Too Chic, the runner-up in that ’82 Alabama, would also become a grade 1 winner later in the year and became a key member of Emory Alexander’s broodmare band. Her first two foals were grade 1 winner Chic Shirine, the dam of two grade 2 winners and the granddam of 2014 Diana winner Somali Lemonade; and of champion Queena.
Broom Dance was bred and raced by Jane Lunger’s Christiana Stables, who also bred and raced 1990 Alabama winner Go for Wand.
Maloney, by the way, trained Gamely, the Claiborne-bred, William Haggin Perry-owned Hall of Famer by Bold Ruler, who won the Alabama in 1967. Gamely’s three-quarter sister, Zonah, by Nasrullah, is the dam of Drumtop. A top runner going long on the turf, Drumtop is the third dam of Patricia Moseley’s Proctor’s Ledge, winner of the Lake Placid Stakes (G2T)…the race that ran prior to Elate’s Alabama.
At Saratoga, sometimes it all comes around