Tuesday, March 3, 2020

The Long Road To Success - Face Time Bourbon

The Long Road To Stardom

Two hundred and fifty years later and after travelling across the Atlantic four times and developed in five different countries the pedigree of Face Time Bourbon has achieved a status that puts him among the best trotters in Europe. His win in the Prix d`Amerique and his current 18 wins, 3 seconds in 22 starts stamps his international passport to possibly being one of the greatest ever in France if not worldwide. His only loss was actually a win but disqualified by a momentary break.

He is by current top French sire Ready Cash and from a mare by Love You, a sire that has more racing progeny in the world than any other active sire due to his own racing excellence and siring success. But that is now and there are 69 that have the same breeding and only three that have significant earnings. Those good ones include International star Bold Eagle with over $5 million Euros, and very similar maternal connections featuring Florestan and Speedy Crown, and Atlas De Joudes with just over $180,000. So what makes the difference?  It all boils down to the maternal lines from the second dam down and, especially in the case of Face Time Bourbon, a mare called Etta Extra, his third dam by Florestan.

The story of Etta Extra and her owner Rainer Engelke, who is responsible for all of the current horses with the Bourbon name, is worthy of a separate column but for now lets look back to see what the maternal line brought to make Etta Extra so special.

The maternal line goes all the way back to the 1750s and is shown as Family Number Forty Six in the English stud book. Early on the line gets a significant boost in the form of a mare imported to North America called Letitia who has an x-factor double trace to the exceptional mare by Bartlets Childers called Amorett. She in turn has a daughter by Dungannon who also has Amorett maternally. Her daughter is bred to Lance, an American sire whose dam has an X-factor double to another distinguished daughter of Bartlets Childers called Miss Colville. That breeding results in a mare bred to one of the early stars of American racing in Bertrand whose maternal line is the same going back to Miss Colville. This is an unprecedented build-up of direct traces to the origin of the X-factor, the ancestral Spanker Mare.

The next two generations, bred first to a pacing sire of the Copperbottom breed then to a Kentucky trotter/saddlebred sire called Edwin Forrest, contribute little in terms of pedigree but introduce the trotting instinct into the mix. The next step is a big one with spectacular results.

Sophie by Edwin Forrest is bred to Happy Medium by Hambletonian whose dam is by Dictator whose dam brings in the first connection to an important X-factor source of American origin in American Star. The result is World Champion Nancy Hanks born in 1886 who was undefeated and was the first 2:05 trotter in harness-racing history.

Nancy Hanks was then bred to Peter The Great whose maternal line also has a maternal trace to a Bartlets Childers mare plus a first encounter with Pilot Jr, sire of Miss Russell, the Queen Among Queens, the subject of my book of the same name that describes the maternal origins of the Standardbred breed. The next step is even more epochal as that mating produced a daughter, Markala, that was bred to Vice Commodore whose dam is also a daughter of Nancy Hanks making Markala a 3x3 X-factor inbred to her maternal legacy. Markala is then bred to Baronmore whose maternal contribution is yet another trace to Bartlets Childers and another key American X-factor source in Mambrino Patchen.

The result of that mating is Anna Maloney, born in 1912, who raced in the United States for several years before joining a wave of exports to Europe following the first world war as breeders there sought to restock their breeding farms depleted by the war effort. She actually went first to Belgium before producing her first French bred foal in 1923 by Passeport, a French sire tracing back on sire line to imported English thoroughbred origins in the early 1800s whose dam is inbred to the X-factor through a full sister to the dam of Belle Poule and another trace back to a daughter of Bartlets Childers. Her first foal by Passeport was Amazone B, a 54 time winner including twice in the Prix d’Amerique, and a French record holder in 1931. It was her third breeding to Passeport, however, that produced Heroine B in 1929 and her French breeding legacy was underway with the tenth dam of Face Time Bourbon.

At this stage her X-factor connections take a different route as her lineage comes into contact with the likes of Belle Poule, Perce Neige and Gladys, all mares that have extensive traces back to the X-factor source in England but none more so than Belle Poule. There are actually two mares called Belle Poule, the second one being a granddaughter of the first and also the dam of the great Intermede, called by some the French equivalent of Volomite for his impact on maternal breeding in France.

The next three dams are a source of some controversy since they were all bred on the same farm under suspicious circumstances. The first of these dams, Sonate, born in 1940, is the big question mark being officially registered as by a French son of Intermede called Gael. He was known to be virtually infertile and had just 2 foals in 1936 and none in 1937. Gael is known colloquially in France as the "ghost" stallion and here is why.

At the end of the 1930s, it was decided to close French breeding to establish a line to be  known as "French trotters" and to bar the breeding to American bloodlines. Calumet Delco was in France racing at the time having been bought by Henri Masson and imported to France in 1934 at the age of four. Born in 1930 at the famous Calumet Farm in Kentucky, he was a full brother to the dam of Stars Pride from a mare by the X-factor stallion San Francisco. He was sold to Wisconsin interests where he was a state champion at three before being sold and exported to France where he won 24 races and earned 350,000 francs in winnings (a nice sum for the era) and his career included a 5th place in the 1938 Prix d'Amérique.

But it is as a stallion that he made his greatest impact. As an American horse he was not allowed to have any foals registered under the new rules but in between his occasional races in 1937, and because of his gentle disposition, he was allowed to run with the mares at Haras de Ginai to act as a teaser to bring the mares into heat for breeding to the farm stallion Gael except that, in this case, Calumet Delco was more than a teaser and ended up covering them himself. The result was that three foals were allowed to be registered as "unexpected exceptions" but no more such foals were to be allowed in the new registry. 

Two stallions Quiroga II and Quiproquo II and a mare called Quinauderie are the three registered by Calumet Delco in 1938 and among the direct descendants of these one finds some great horses such as Galopin du Ravary, Ilster d'Espien, Flambeaux des Pins, and Hadol du Vivier but that's not all. The farm stallion Gael, who had fertility issues with just one foal in 1936 and none in 1937 suddenly had a revival with three foals in 1938, six in 1939, four more in 1940 and his last one in 1941 when coincidentally or not Calumet Delco reappears as a stallion in Germany after four years of obscurity. The consensus is that all of these later foals were by Calumet Delco and not Gael, a belief confirmed in a sworn statement by the son of the owner of Haras de Ginai in later years. The registration of Gael as the sire, however, still remains as the official record although the legacy of Calumet Delco and his maternal connection to the great Stars Pride has clearly left a big mark on French maternal lines including those of Face Time Bourbon. The great French Champion Ourasie's dam Fleurasie has Calumet Delco on both sides of her pedigree and one of those occasions is a Calumet Delco son bred to a mare called Stele registered as by Gael in 1940, the same year as Sonate.

Sonate was bred to Quiproquo and her foal Dragonne III was then bred to Quiroga II to produce Jonque so it is now proven, although not offically, that all three mares were bred to Calumet Delco or one of his sons. Calumet Delco as the sire of Sonate would be a significantly consequential addition to the maternal line but we must, unfortunately, accept what is registered as true and move on to Samos P, the start of another special cycle of maternal power. She was bred to Luth Grandchamp producing Dimitria who picked up the first connection to Belle Poule through a maternal daughter of Intermede. The dam of Luth Grandchamp is by another American refugee called Net Worth whose dam and second dam are both X-factor doubles to Mambrino Patchen, the same source doubled up in Anna Maloney. The world of trotting is indeed a small world

Dimitria was a sensation for her day in the sixties earning over 1.7 million kroner mostly in Sweden, winning the Elitlopp, and being one of the first French breds to take a sub 2:00 record. I have a remote personal connection to Dimitria through a friend in Finland, Marja Mahlamaki, who has a small farm in Vihti near where Dimitria was sent for a potential breeding to Keystone Patriot. The farm where she spent a year in Finland was co-owned by Marjut Stenberg and Marja's brother-in-law Matti. I visited with Marja in 2009 and Matti was then and still is in charge of the racetrack in Teivo.  

Marja, known by her friends as Mammu, is a long time supporter and volunteer in the Finnish breeding industry and remembers that Sweden was experiencing an outbreak of Equine Herpes and Dimitria was sent out of Sweden as a precaution. She already had four foals by French sires with little success at that time and missed that opportunity with Keystone Patriot and now had to wait six months in quarantine before being sent across the Atlantic for a mating to Speedy Crown thus returning the maternal line to its roots in North America and England. That produced the mare Une Crown born in Italy and then taken back to France.

Une Crown produced fourteen foals with the first eight in France and the last six in Sweden. Etta Extra was her first foal and the only time bred to Florestan and her breeder was a Swede named Valentin Gosta of Stockholm and a former Chairman of the Swedish Trotting Association, with a small farm in France, and who had also previously bought Dimitria after her racing career. He was also the owner of Glenna H, the great grandmother of Victory Tilly, the all-time money winner in Sweden. Etta Extra's racing career was short but at three she had three of her four wins at Vincennes and earned 51,665 Euro in her ten starts. She was bought at the 1996 Deauville mixed sale for $70,000 by Rainer Engelke who was intrigued by her breeding by Florestan to a daughter of Speedy Crown, and her maternal line to Nancy Hanks. The under-bidder was the renowned breeder Jean Pierre Dubois. 

There was more to that match that he was perhaps not aware of at the time although he recognized the influence of Florestan’s dam, the great mare and international champion Roquepine. She carried an X-factor double to Intermede and Belle Poule as did her dam Jalna IV to the older Belle Poule as well as to Perce Neige. A powerhouse maternal line indeed behind an incredible performer for her day who beat the best trotters in North America in the International Trot at Yonkers.

But Rainer Engelke’s work back in 2009 was just beginning. With Etta Extra as his foundation mare at his newly bought farm in France he sought out crosses that would bring back her Stars Pride and Speedy Crown bloodlines. Her second foal by Cezio Josselyn did the trick being by a son of Armbro Goal, a Speedy Crown son with a Stars Pride line dam. But that was not the key in producing Kamera Bourbon, the second dam of Face Time Bourbon. She went on to race and earn over 196,000 Euro and the secret ingredient to her success as a racemare was likely the dam of her sire named Quezira tracing back to Belle Poule as well as having a maternal line to the old Belle Poule making her also an x-factor double to the principal source of that legacy in France. Quezira is the second dam of the exceptional mare Belina Josselyn and the maternal line of several other stars such as Uza Josselyn, and Fleche Bourbon who is inbred maternally to Quezira and a recent winner of the prestigious Prix de President de la Republique  for monte trotters.

Etta Extra was subsequently bred to Love You and produced a 1.5 million Euro winner and Prix d`Amerique contestant in Qualita Bourbon. That success inspired Engelke to breed Kamera Bourbon to LoveYou and why not because he carries both Speedy Crown and Stars Pride across his pedigree. What perhaps he did not know again was that the dam of Love You is also an x-factor double to Belle Poule as well as carrying the maternal influences of both Gladys and Perce Neige. An added bonus is Love You’s North American maternal line that goes back to a daughter of San Francisco plus another source to American Star.

As Rainer Engelke said in his interview about Etta Extra prior to the 2009 Prix d'Amerique in which his mare Qualita Bourbon, a three quarter sister to the dam of  Face Time Bourbon, finished third. She too has Speedy Crown and Stars Pride across her pedigree in addition, of course to the maternal doubles to Belle Poule and other X-factor sources.

At every opportunity I try to create that in my breedings. Now that I have had several years of breeding experience I can tell you what to do. It is very simple. You have to double up on the best American blood with the best French blood. That is to say double up on Florestan, double up on Speedy Crown, as well as Fandango and Chambon P. Double up in the mare and also with the stallion. If you do that you have a chance to have, from time to time, a good horse.

Myself, I believe it is necessary to look at the sixth – seventh generation. Jean-Pierre Dubois says you have to stop at the third. But for me I don’t think that is enough. If the pedigree is well filled throughout, you increase your chances. If there is a hole you take the risk of falling through it.”

Inbred maternally to both Speedy Crown and Florestan, by a sire inbred to Florestan and from a mare inbred to Speedy Crown with a maternal line full of great champions on two continents. There are obviously no holes present in Face Time Bourbon.

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