By Alan Porter
The oldest male line native to the U.S. is that of Eclipse (the winner of the inaugural Biennial Stakes at Ascot in 1858, not the founding sire after whom the Eclipse Awards are named), who was imported in 1859. His grandson Himyar is the sole conduit through which the Camel branch of the original Eclipse’s line has been perpetuated to the present day, extending through two sons, Domino and Plaudit (now most strongly represented by Holy Bull, whose son Flashy Bull is Kentucky’s current leading freshman sire).
The future of the Domino branch of the Eclipse/Himyar line was precarious from the start. Domino himself sired only 19 live foals; his best son, Commando, died after serving only two full seasons at stud, siring just 27 foals; and Commando’s best son, the undefeated Colin, was able to get only 83 foals in 18 seasons at stud. Still, not too long ago, it appeared that the line had a shot to establish itself more firmly in the modern era through Broad Brush (by Horse of the Year, champion older horse, and champion sprinter Ack Ack, and six generations removed from Colin), a top-class handicap horse who earned a leading sire title in 1994. Unfortunately, Broad Brush’s first stallion sons—the most notable of which was 1994 Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) victor Concern—failed to leave a son of note in North America.
Still, the Domino line has one more throw in the shape of Broad Brush’s son Include (who stands alongside Flashy Bull at Brereton Jones’ Airdrie Stud). Include doesn’t yet have a top colt, but he has proved his ability to get runners at the highest level with a trio of grade I-winning fillies, the most recent of which is Her Smile, successful in the Prioress Stakes (gr. I) on Independence Day. Coincidentally, Prioress—the first U.S. bred horse to win a race in England and the mare for whom the stakes is named—was a half sister to War Dance, the sire of Domino’s second dam, and also from Domino’s immediate family.
Winner of the last three of her four starts at 2, including the Donna Freyer Stakes at Philadelphia Park (now Parx Racing), Her Smile was purchased privately by Bobby Flay as a potential Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) contender after finishing second in the one-mile Comely Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct in April. Beaten 22 lengths into 11th in the Oaks, Her Smile then finished a distant third to It's Tricky and Turbulent Descent in a muddy renewal of the TVG Acorn Stakes (gr. I) at a mile. Dropped back again in distance to the six furlongs of the Prioress, Her Smile took advantage of a hot early pace and a gap on the rail, coming from last to first, to score by a half-length over Pomeroys Pistol.
Include’s first two grade I winners, Panty Raid (successful in the American Oaks Invitational Stakes on turf and the Juddmonte Spinster Stakes on Keeneland’s Polytrack) and Cash Included (Oak Leaf Breeders’ Cup Stakes) were among the seven stakes winners from Include’s first crop. Include didn’t have a graded stakes winner in his next three crops, but Her Smile is from his fifth crop—his most numerous, and sired after his promising beginning—and that crop has now produced six individual stakes winners and eight other stakes-placed horses, including Kentucky Oaks runner-up St. John's River. Include’s current 3-year-old crop also includes Redeemed , a colt who took his 2011 record to three wins in three starts with an impressive score in a 6½-furlong allowance/optional claiming event on the Prioress undercard.
Bred in Virginia by William M. Backer, Her Smile is the fourth runner and fourth winner out of the Capote mare Hepburn, a two-time winner at 2. A half sister to the dam of the minor stakes winner Izzy Speaking, Hepburn is out of Favored Lady, who captured the Miss Liberty Stakes at the Meadowlands and gained graded black type with a third in the Nijana Stakes (gr. IIIT). Favored Lady’s dam, Applause—by the champion sprinter Shecky Green—was a tough and speedy performer who won 14 races, seven at stakes level, set a new track-record for six furlongs at Garden State, and was also runner-up in the Barbara Fritche Handicap (gr. III). In addition to Favored Lady, Applause also produced the stakes-winning and graded-placed Jazz (by Quiet American, a son of Favored Lady’s sire, Fappiano) and is granddam of four other stakes winners. The family goes back to the Belle Histoire branch of the La Troienne family via Her Smile’s fifth dam, the Bold Ruler mare Diary (a granddaughter of Belle Histoire). A sister to stakes winner King’s Story, the dam of Autobiography, who earned honors as champion older horse when taking the Jockey Club Gold Cup by 15 lengths over Key to the Mint and Riva Ridge, Diary didn’t produce anything of that class. However, she did have a stakes-winning son in the shape of the In Reality horse Free Up, winner of the Speed Ball Handicap at Hazel Park, and she is ancestress of numerous other stakes winners including Bright Sky, who took the 2002 renewal of the Prix de Diane (Fr-I), the French Oaks.
Much of the survival of the line that leads from Domino to Include has been built on inbreeding and linebreeding to notable mares. Include’s great-great-great-grandsire Alsab (champion at 2 and 3), was inbred 4x4 to Pastorella, the dam of Colin and Verdure. Armageddon, the son of Alsab who continued the line, had Colin/Verdure 4x4x4. Ack Ack, grandson of Armageddon, and grandsire of Include, had three crosses of the great mare Plucky Liege, through her sons Sir Gallahad III and Admiral Drake. Broad Brush not only had the stallion Turn-to 3x3, but also the CCA Oaks-winning sisters Cherokee Rose and How 3x5. Moving to Include, we see that he not only has Turn-to 4x4x4, but also has a double of Broad Brush’s third dam, the Kentucky Oaks victress Hidden Talent, through her stakes winning daughters Turn to Talent and Too Bald (whose son, Baldski, is sire of Include’s second dam).
Her Smile’s pedigree continues the theme, as her broodmare sire, Capote, is a half brother to Baldski, giving a 5x3 cross of Too Bald, and a 5x6x4 cross of her dam, Hidden Talent. Given that Include has sired grade I winner Cash Included out of a mare by a son of Dixieland Band, one has to wonder how Include might fare with mares by Dixie Union, a son of Dixieland Band out of a mare by Capote. Perhaps it could be the cross that will extend the Domino line for one more generation.