Susan Sommer-Luarca

Marshesseaux, Dam of Left Bank, Dies

Mare changed the life of a small Missouri breeding operation.

Marshesseaux, the dam of 2002 champion older male Left Bank, was euthanized April 9 due to the infirmities of old age.

The 30-year-old daughter of Dr. BlumLoboette, by Good Counsel, had been living at Fletcher and Carolyn Gray's Grayson Farm in Pleasant Hope, Mo.

"She was a good ole girl," Carolyn Gray said. "She was an exceptionally nice mare to be around and changed our lives."

Marshesseaux, whose actual birthday would have been May 25, was bred in Kentucky by William Fleming. She raced 37 times, won 13 races, and was stakes-placed twice. Her career earnings were nearly $202,000.

Dave and Pat Mowat's Fawn Leap Farm bred the first three foals out of Marshesseaux before selling her in foal to Meadowlake through the 1992 Keeneland November breeding stock sale for $24,000 to John Youngblood, who attended the sale with the Grays looking for breeding prospects. Marshesseaux was only the second broodmare the Grays had ever bought at public auction.

The first matings the partners had actually planned for her resulted in minor stakes winners Marsheslew (by Houston) and Flag On the Play (by Meadowlake). Then came the life-changing colt by French Deputy, who the partners sold as a yearling for $130,000 through the 1998 Keeneland September sale.

Left Bank, racing for Michael Tabor and trained by Todd Pletcher, won six graded stakes between October 2000 and August 2002. The colt won his first stakes late in his 3-year-old year in the Discovery Handicap (gr. III) at Aqueduct Racetrack.

In 2001, he won the Vosburgh Stakes (gr. I), the Cigar Mile Handicap (gr. I), and finished second in the Forego Handicap (gr. I). Left Bank didn't pick up a championship that year because he finished fifth to Squirtle Squirt in the Penske Auto Center Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I).

The next year Left Bank won the Bold Ruler Handicap (gr. III), the Tom Fool Handicap (gr. II), and the Whitney Handicap (gr. I). Sadly, the horse required colic surgery a week after the Whitney and died two months later when a third colic surgery was unsuccessful.

Left Bank earned more than $1.4 million and was posthumously awarded the handicap division's Eclipse Award for the 2002 season.

"We're a small operation, so what she did really changed our direction because it happened so early in the life of our business," Carolyn Gray said.

Out of 16 foals, Marshesseaux produced four stakes winners and a total of eight winners. She was buried at Grayson Farm.