William S. Kilroy was racing a small, modest stable in Louisiana 30 years ago when he decided he wanted to enter the breeding side of the business. He approached a family friend with whom he had much in common, and the two hatched a plan to execute Kilroy's wishes.
Kilroy, who died in 1999, was born in Ohio but moved to Texas in the 1940s. The friend, William S. Farish, is a native Texan. Both men's family fortunes stem from what Texas is most known for, what the ballad of Jed Clampett referred to as "Texas tea." Oil, that is.
At the 1975 Keeneland summer yearling sale, Kilroy bought his first horse upon Farish's recommendation. For $76,000, he became the owner of a filly by Buckpasser out of the Sir Gaylord mare Gay Missile. He named his lone purchase that day Lassie Dear.
With Del Carroll as her trainer, Lassie Dear made 26 starts and won five races, among them the grade III Villager Stakes at Keystone and the Marica Handicap at Hawthorne.
In the late '70s, Farish had begun buying the land for his Lane's End Farm near Versailles, Ky., and was putting together his own broodmare band. In 1970, Farish made two purchases from the same family. At the Keeneland September sale, he paid $28,000 for a filly by Boldnesian out of the Summer Tan mare Ran-Tan. Two months later, he purchased Ran-Tan, in foal to Lucky Debonair, for $125,000.
The Boldnesian filly, named Bold Bikini, also trained by Carroll, won the 1972 Jersey Belle Handicap.
When Lassie Dear was retired from racing, Farish suggested he and Kilroy swap a 50% interest in Lassie Dear and Bold Bikini. For the partners, Bold Bikini went on to produce several notable horses, foremost among them Law Society, a two-time Irish champion and winner of that country's Derby in 1985.
In 1979, Lassie Dear was bred to the 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat. For Farish and Kilroy, she produced a filly named Weekend Surprise who was a multiple graded stakes winner of $402,892.
But it is in the breeding shed that Weekend Surprise made her real mark on the breed, producing Horse of the Year and top sire A.P. Indy
(by Seattle Slew) and classic winner Summer Squall
(by Storm Bird).
Weekend Surprise also produced one other stakes winner, a filly by Seeking the Gold named Welcome Surprise. Three years ago, Farish made the decision to send the maiden mare Weekend Surprise to Storm Cat
, the world's top commercial sire with a stud fee of $500,000.
"As a rule, I tend to breed those with great quality to the best proven sire that fits them, both pedigree-wise and physically," Farish said Sept. 15, the day after Welcome Surprise's first foal was sold at Keeneland for a September sale record $8 million. "I did the same thing with her mother. I felt they had an outstanding opportunity to be top broodmares."
This year, Welcome Surprise had a dead foal by Storm Cat (she was barren to his cover her first year) but she is back in foal to the son of Storm Bird. She is the only Lane's End mare that was bred to Storm Cat this year.
Farish knows a bit about breeding to Storm Cat. The top three prices ever received for Lane's End yearlings--$8 million, $6.8 million, and $6.4 million--were for Storm Cat colts. "I've tried to breed mares to him that were sound, that might be a little on the feminine side because he puts so much stoutness and bone into the mares," Farish said.
Speaking of sound, Kilroy's widow, Jeanie, currently owns an interest in 16 mares at Lane's End. She is the co-breeder of the $8-million yearling. Thirty years ago, her husband made a sound business decision to seek advice on breeding horses from Will Farish.