Prior to the advent of the Futurity Stakes and a rising tide of important juvenile stakes, patience and stamina were the key words in developing a good horse. Although the heroic four-mile heat race went into rapid decline as the favored test of the racehorse after the Civil War, many of the great races of the late 19th century still required a goodly dollop of stamina, and it was nothing uncommon for a race horse to take until age 4 or 5 to come into its own. Breeders could afford to be patient; after all, if a horse didn't pan out on the track, there were plenty of other uses to which it could be put.
Times have changed; in today's market, few breeders can afford to raise the late-maturing staying type. But when a good one appears, one can be forgiven the accompanying touch of nostalgia for the glories of bygone days.
In the manner of the stalwarts of old, Emerald Beech has taken her time about getting good. She did not start at all at 2 and managed only a maiden win from five starts at 3; at 4, she placed twice from five more starts. If owner George Strawbridge Jr. had seen fit to retire her at that point, no one would have criticized him. Instead, patience and the wizardry of veteran trainer Jonathan Sheppard have paid off for Strawbridge's Augustin Stable, as Emerald Beech has now won four straight races this year after finishing second in her season opener. Winner of the listed Signature Stallion Waya Stakes over 12 furlongs in her fourth start of the season, Emerald Beech has now moved up into the graded stakes ranks with a solid victory in the 11-furlong Glens Falls Stakes (gr. IIIT) (VIDEO).
Somewhat ironically, Emerald Beech is by a horse whose glory days came at 2, 1995 champion juvenile male Maria’s Mon. Injury prevented Maria’s Mon from getting the chance to show his ability over distances greater than a mile, but he was bred to go further and to improve with age. His sire, Wavering Monarch, was a grade I winner over nine furlongs at 3 and 4 and was by the staying Majestic Light (also a grade I winner at 3 and 4, and by 1969 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Majestic Prince) out of Uncommitted, a daughter of 1966 Horse of the Year Buckpasser. The dam of Maria’s Mon, Carlotta Maria, never won but was by 1971 French champion older male Caro, a French classic winner at 2,100 meters (approximately 10.5 furlongs), out of Water Malone, a multiple graded stakes-winning daughter of 1970 Belmont Stakes third Naskra.
Maria’s Mon sired 2001 Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos in his first crop and 2002 Selene Stakes (gr. I) winner See How She Runs in his second but then cooled off. His fortunes rebounded with the emergence of 2006 champion 3-year-old filly Wait a While and 2006 Malibu Stakes (gr. I) winner Latent Heat, but just as his stud career was taking on new life, the stallion had to be humanely destroyed due to illness in September 2007. Since then, Maria’s Mon has added three more grade I winners in Monba (2008 Toytota Blue Grass Stakes), Monzante (2008 Eddie Read Handicap on the turf), and Super Saver (2010 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands) as well as Venezuelan group I winner Cheiron. From 980 foals of racing age, Maria’s Mon has so far sired 597 winners (61%) and 58 stakes winners (5.9%). His final foals are 3-year-olds of 2011 and include this year's Iowa Oaks (gr. III) winner Little Miss Holly and Starspangledbanner EBF Athasi Stakes (Ire-III) winner Emiyna.
The dam of Emerald Beech, Beyond the Waves, captured her only stakes win in France at age 3 but raced competitively in stakes company through age 6, when she finished second in the 12-furlong Bewitch Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland. A half sister to multiple stakes winner Seahawk Gold, she was sired by 1994 Del Mar Invitational Derby (gr. IIT) winner Ocean Crest (by Storm Bird) out of the unraced Exceller mare Excedent, a pedigree that definitely suggested distance and turf. This female line traces back to Clonaslee, a daughter of Orpiment imported by Colonel E. R. Bradley. Why the astute Bradley purchased Clonaslee is something of a mystery, as the mare possessed neither an outstanding pedigree nor any marked racing quality other than hardiness (she made 73 starts), but his judgment was, as usual correct. Not only did Clonaslee throw 16 winners from 18 foals, including three stakes winners, but she established a family that includes the top racer and sire In Reality; 1959 champion juvenile filly My Dear Girl; two-time champion sprinter Decathlon; Glint of Gold, a champion in Germany and Italy; Diamond Shoal, a champion in England, France, and Italy; and 1985 Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner Tank's Prospect.
How much upside Emerald Beech still has is anyone's guess, but she has already done more than enough to ensure herself a place in Strawbridge's broodmare band when the time comes for her retirement. In a market dominated by speed, she will be a welcome source of stamina, and a proof that good things can still come to those who wait.