Connections: Black Caviar and Mr. Crimson Ruler

May 16th, 2012

Black Caviar, the 5-year-old Australian sensation, who scored her 21st consecutive win on May 12 in Adelaide, has interesting connections to North American horses, including Crimson Saint, who connects to the late, famed Quarter Horse breeder B.F. Phillips, Jr. and Dash For Cash.

Black Caviar (1999) was sired by Bel Esprit, winner of more than $2 million and one of the best sprinters of his generation in Australia.

Bel Esprit was sired by American-bred Royal Academy (1987), sire of 160 stakes winners and the earners of more than $120 million. Royal Academy, whose best lick on the track was at the mile, died this past February at Coolmore Australia.

Royal Academy was sired by Northern Dancer’s son Nijinsky, a British Triple Crown winner who became leading sire in Great Britain and leading broodmare sire in North America.

Royal Academy’s dam was Kentucky-bred Crimson Saint (1959), who equaled the four furlong record in :44.80 at Oaklawn Park, and set a track record of :56 flat at Hollywood Park. Crimson Saint’s sire, Crimson Satan, won the Charles H. Strub at Santa Anita by 5 3/4 lengths, while clocking :21 flat for the first quarter.

Crimson Saint’s greatest claim to fame, however, came as a broodmare. She was in foal to Triple Crown champion Secretariat in January 1976, when she was purchased for $295,000 by prominent Kentucky horseman Tom Gentry. The foal, a filly from Secretariat’s second crop, was stakes winner Terlingua, who would produce Storm Cat, one of the most influential stallions of modern times.

Mr. Crimson Ruler, photo by Sally Harrison

Crimson Saint’s first foal, a chestnut colt named Mr. Crimson Ruler (1975), was also sired by Secretariat, but never raced. Instead, he was purchased as a yearling by B.F. Phillips Jr., the same year that Phillips’ homebred Quarter Horse colt Dash For Cash was named AQHA world champion and champion 3-year-old.

Phillips believed that the proper Thoroughbred bloodlines could improve the performance of Quarter Horse runners. And he had proven his theory with Dash For Cash, whose dam, Find A Buyer, was a Thoroughbred, and whose sire, Rocket Wrangler, was by Rocket Bar, a Thoroughbred son of Three Bars.

Although at first glance Secretariat seemed an unlikely cross for Quarter Horses, his sire, Bold Ruler, was a world champion sprinter at 3.

“You can pick the Bold Rulers out on their conformation,” said the late Arthur B. Hancock, Jr., owner of Claiborne Farm and syndicate owner of Nasrullah, Bold Ruler’s sire (Hancock also imported Princequillo, sire of Secretariat’s dam, Somethingroyal, and syndicated Nijinksy II, sire of Royal Academy). “I see the same musculature as Nasrullah. They all had an extra layer of muscle beside their tail running down to their hocks. It is a good sign when you see it in a Bold Ruler. It means strength and speed.”

As a Quarter Horse breeder, Phillips had noticed the similarity in conformation between Dash For Cash and Secretariat, which was confirmed by the late equine artist Jim Reno, who measured both Secretariat and Dash For Cash for larger-than-life-size bronze sculptures.

There was a pedigree connection between the two stallions, as well, through Imperatrice, who was Secretariat’s second dam (Somethingroyal was her daughter), and the fourth dam of Dash For Cash.

Mr. Crimson Ruler was overshadowed at Phillips Ranch by Dash For Cash and never lived up to expectations as a sire. From 16 Quarter Horse crops (a total of 296 foals), he produced just four stakes winners, and his top money earner was Mr Crimson Bug (LTE $133,045), third in the Rainbow Derby. At the time of the Dash For Cash Futurity Sale in July 1984, Mr. Crimson Ruler had sired just one Thoroughbred winner and no stakes-placed runners.