On-track acclaim hard to come by for most full siblings of Triple Crown winners

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

August 3rd, 2016

When American Cleopatra, a full sister to last year's Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, won her debut this past Sunday at Del Mar, there were collective cheers among most racing fans but probably a few scattered groans to go along with them.

Perhaps due to being caught up with the outcome of the Haskell Invitational (G1) run a few minutes before, quite a few of us missed plucking a few dollars down on a filly that was a tantalizing 7-1 on the tote board. After a relatively bad start compromised her odds-on favored stablemate Jeweled, American Cleopatra coasted to a two-length win and paid $16.60.

While the pressure was not on American Cleopatra for her coming-out party, that will not be the case going forward. After that display, expectations are now very high for her to make a significant name for herself on the racetrack.

The debut success of American Cleopatra got me wondering how full siblings of previous Triple Crown winners had fared on the track. While none achieved a degree of success remotely comparable to their illustrious brothers, there have been a few notable performers among this exclusive club.

(There have also been a number of notable half-siblings to Triple Crown winners both on the track and in the stud, in particular sisters, both half and full, that either produced prominent runners or whose descendants did the same. This piece will focus only on full siblings and their achievements on the track.)

While produce records indicate that 1919 Triple Crown winner Sir Barton was the result of the only successful mating between *Star Shoot and Lady Sterling, 1930 Triple Crown hero Gallant Fox was the first of seven foals resulting from the union of *Sir Gallahad III and Marguerite.

Besides Gallant Fox, two others enjoyed measurable success on the track. Fighting Fox, a foal of 1935, won eight stakes and placed in 15 others, with his most notable victories occurring in the Wood Memorial, Massachusetts H., and Carter H. His year younger brother, Foxbrough, was recognized as England's champion juvenile following a victory in the 1938 Middle Park S. at Newmarket. However, after not building on that success overseas, he was returned to the U.S. as an older horse, winning two stakes in New York at age six.

Gallant Fox's son Omaha, Triple Crown winner of 1935, had eight full siblings, only five of which raced. Flares, a year younger than Omaha, raced in England, winning the 1937 Champion S. at Newmarket as well as the 1938 Gold Cup at Royal Ascot, avenging his brother's defeat in the same race two years earlier.

War Admiral, who swept the Crown in 1937, was the only stakes winner ever produced by his dam, Brushup, despite her rearing five other foals (all fillies) by Man o' War. Four made it to the track, but only one ever visited the winner's circle.

Whirlaway (1941), the first of Calumet Farm's Triple Crown champions, had two winning full sisters, neither of whom were stakes quality. Count Fleet, who swept the 1943 classics, had an older sister who did not place, but two younger siblings of his both won.

Igual reared 10 foals sired by Bold Venture. In addition to Triple Crown hero Assault (1946), the union produced Postillion, a two-time stakes winner in British Columbia, and On Your Own, a filly that captured the Betsy Ross at Garden State and the Gazelle at Aqueduct in 1954. In contrast, of 1948 Triple Crown winner Citation's three full siblings, only one made it to the track (he was a winner).

Due to the death of his sire, Bold Ruler, in 1971 when he was a yearling, Secretariat (1973) never had any younger full siblings follow in his hoofsteps. He did have two older ones, though. Most of those who know the Secretariat story are familiar with his year-older sister, The Bride, who Ogden Phipps "won" in the famous coin toss but couldn't run a lick. However, Secretariat's older sister Syrian Sea was one of the better juvenile fillies of 1967 when she captured the Selima at Laurel, the Astarita at Aqueduct, and Colleen at Monmouth Park.

The premature death of Bold Reasoning in 1975 meant that long before Seattle Slew (1977) set foot on the track he would have no full siblings. Affirmed (1978), on the hand, had two younger ones, one of which was a black-type winner.

With the exception of some success achieved by William Woodward's program in the 1930s, breeding an acclaimed full sibling of a Triple Crown winner has been nearly as difficult as breeding the winner of a Triple Crown itself. If American Cleopatra somehow finds herself the leader among her peers three months from now, she will, historically speaking, be far ahead of the game.

(Benoit Photos)