Whether covering turf routes or capturing Graded sprint stakes, the descendants of Marche Lorraine have just about done it all. An unsung influence in modern pedigrees, French-bred Marche Lorraine is the tail-female ancestress of Grade 1 winners Mind Control and Whitmore - as well as yesterday’s luckless beaten Haskell Invitational second favorite King For A Day.
Named for a French military anthem, Marche Lorraine won two stakes in France before Martha Farish Gerry, best known as the owner-breeder of three-time U.S. Horse of the Year Forego, acquired the mare in the name of her Lazy F Ranch.
Dam of eight winners, Marche Lorraine produced two good Tom Fool foals. Circus won the 1965 Knickerbocker Handicap and Small Steps became the granddam of 1982 turf G2 Orchid Handicap winner Blush. Marche Lorraine’s 1970 Damascus filly, French Leave, foaled stakes winner Smooth Bore (by His Majesty).
To the cover of Alleged, Smooth Bore produced 1986 Epsom Oaks and 1000 Guineas winner Midway Lady. Bred to Green Desert, Midway Lady foaled classic-placed Umniyatee, while her Unfuwain filly, Eswarah, emulated her dam by taking the 2005 Epsom Oaks.
Marche Lorraine’s greatest glories were yet to come, however.
She foaled two stakes-winning full sisters by Sir Gaylord: Marchandeuse and Maid Of France. A foal of 1966, Marchandeuse took the 1970 New York Handicap. Her Hoist The Flag filly French Flag yielded three stakes winners, including 1989 G2 Long Look Handicap scorer Royal Plume and Drapeau.
In 1992, Drapeau produced precocious Swiss Yodeler. A chestnut inferno, the Eastern Echo colt took the West Coast juvenile division by storm. Undefeated in his first five starts, Swiss Yodeler rounded out his season by conquering the 1994 G1 Hollywood Futurity. Though he failed to enter the winner’s circle again, he did get 2006 champion sprinter Thor’s Echo at stud.
French Flag also foaled Nine Flags (by Forty Niner), fourth dam of sprint sensation Whitmore.
Winner of three consecutive editions of the six-furlong Hot Springs Stakes and the 2017 and 2018 G3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap, Whitmore also placed in the latter race this year. But his most notable victory came in the 2018 G1 Forego Stakes; that race's equine namesake was bred and raced by none other than Martha Farish Gerry.
A Maid to remember
A foal of 1968, Maid Of France captured the 1971 Indian Creek Stakes and produced three stakes winners. At one end of the distance spectrum was Maid Of France’s Reviewer filly, La Vue, who annexed the 1982 Interborough Handicap, a historic sprint stake. At the other end of the spectrum came Maid Of France’s son French Colonial, winner of the 11-furlong turf G1 Man o’ War Stakes in 1979.
Maid of France’s best foal arguably was her Key To The Mint filly, Clef d’Argent. Bred to The Minstrel, 1979 G2 Test Stakes winner Clef d’Argent yielded Silver Voice, winner of the 1987 turf G1 Manhattan Handicap. Clef d’Argent’s Boundary filly French Line became the granddam of Graded stakes-winning half-siblings Conquest Panthera and Happy Like A Fool.
Conquest Panthera channeled his sire, Kitten’s Joy, by winning the 2017 turf G2 Play The Fool Stakes at Woodbine. Group-placed at Royal Ascot, Happy Like A Fool performed her best stateside. The Distorted Humor filly won the 2017 G3 Matron Stakes, then added the 2018 G3 Miss Preakness Stakes. She sold for $1.45 million at the 2018 Keeneland Kentucky Fall Mixed sale.
Sent to freshman sire Forty Niner in 1989, Clef d’Argent produced a bay filly the following spring. Bred and raced by Lazy F and Claiborne Farm, the cleverly-named Nine Keys won three Graded stakes in 1994, including the G1 Apple Blossom Handicap.
The Keys to success
At the 2006 Keeneland September Yearling sale, Centennial Farms purchased an E Dubai colt — out of Nine Keys’ unraced Storm Cat filly, Storm Key — for $270,000. Named Desert Key, the colt came tantalizingly close to two major stakes wins.
Centennial’s racing manager, Dr Steve Carr, recalled, “I’d say the two things that attracted him to us was the individual and the deep female family.” He added, “Desert Key was a very good-looking horse. He wasn’t a tall, leggy horse, but a medium-sized horse — compact, built somewhat like a sprinter.”
After romping in a Belmont Park allowance in the summer of 2008, Desert Key fell just a head short of winner — and 2009 sprint champion — Kodiak Kowboy in the G2 Amsterdam Stakes. In the process, he earned a spectacular 120 Beyer speed figure.
A month later, Desert Key ran a good second to multiple Graded stakes winner Visionaire in the G1 NetJets King’s Bishop Stakes. He earned a 114 Beyer while placing in the listed Gallant Bob Stakes. As Carr recalled, “He just missed being a top, top-caliber horse.”
Ubetwereven, Raysor Lake’s French Deputy filly, most recently kicked the black-type up a notch. The Brunetti family’s Red Oak Farm purchased her as a racing prospect, but she remained unraced due to foot circulation problems. Sent to Lightnin N Thunder, a winning son of Storm Cat, Ubetwereven produced produced stakes winners Ima Jersey Girl and Feel That Fire.
Of Feel That Fire, Steve Brunetti noted, “You know, I think I liked the pedigree and I just liked her in general.” He called her a “very, very fast” sprinter whose career was hampered by an offset knee. In contrast, Ima Jersey Girl proved her best around two turns.
In 2016, Feel That Fire foaled a Stay Thirsty colt. Brunetti noted his “blocky build” foreshadowed his sprint potential. Indeed, Mind Control’s precocity echoed his dam’s talent. Mind Control captured the G1 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga. In the spring of 2019, Mind Control won the G3 Bay Shore and Jerome Stakes. He also placed in the G3 Gotham for Red Oak and co-owner Madaket Stables.
Brunetti said, “But Mind Control, he was as precocious and early as a horse could ever be. He never missed a day of training. He’s extremely sound,” adding proudly, “he’s never taken a bad step and he’s thriving. We couldn't be more proud of him.”
He observed, “It’s good to have all this pedigree movement going in, especially in the first dam, and Feel That Fire is still fairly young.”
Ubetwereven is still churning out quality, and Saturday’s beaten Haskell second favorite King For A Day is an example.
On the May 18 Preakness Stakes undercard, her 3-year-old colt by Uncle Mo posted a 2½-length win in the 8½-furlong Sir Barton Stakes. Brunetti said, “He’s a very nice horse and we think he’s just every bit as talented as Mind Control. We think he’s a two-turn horse, whereas Mind Control is more of a seven-eighths of a mile horse.”
Brunetti enthused, “But it was phenomenal. I went up there; I spent the night with my family at a hotel and I came up there with my son and my wife and our racing manager. I’d never won a race on a big day like that; I’d felt like I’d won the Preakness. There were so many people there.”
He added, “It's very rewarding to go to the sale and buy a nice horse, but it’s also better when you raise them.”
King For A Day progressed from that when he got the better of Maximum Security in the Pegasus Listed Race at Monmouth Park in June, and the Todd Pletcher trainee was fancied by some to confirm the form in the Haskell. In the event, he lost all chance after being badly hampered while disputing the lead on the final turn and was left to coast home a distant fifth. Surely he will continue to go from strength to strength.