When leading breeder Isabel Dodge Sloane of Brookmeade Stable died in 1962, John W. Galbreath leaped at the opportunity to acquire some of her stock for his Darby Dan Farm. Among the mares he purchased was the Hasty Road filly Golden Trail, who became a great modern foundation mare. Bred to the full brothers Graustark and His Majesty (Ribot–Flower Bowl, by Alibhai), she and her daughters produced a brood of high-class runners–as luck would have it, mostly fillies. In turn, those daughters of Graustark and His Majesty laid the foundation for a second generation of Darby Dan successes when bred to Galbreath’s 1972 Epsom Derby winner, Roberto. This formula yielded not only a slew of good racehorses but a number of important sires, including Brian’s Time and Dynaformer.
1973 Comely Stakes (gr. III) winner Java Moon (Graustark–Golden Trail) for the most part stayed off the path marked out by her dam and sisters. While she did produce two winners by Roberto, five of her seven foals were by other sires, and they include her two most important producing daughters: All My Memories (by Little Current), dam of three stakes winners including multiple grade I winner Memories of Silver, and multiple stakes producer Our Tina Marie (by Nijinsky II), third dam of current juvenile star To Honor and Serve.
Our Tina Marie never raced but had a pedigree decidedly leaning towards stoutness, which may have been the reason she was sent to the speedy Miswaki in 1994. The result was the last of the mare’s three stakes winners, Misty Hour, who won the restricted Glorious Song Stakes as a juvenile and placed in the Fantasy Stakes (gr. II) at 3.
Misty Hour, now 15, has produced two stakes winners so far. The more notable of the two is the Hennessy mare India, winner of the 2006 Fitz Dixon Cotillion Breeders’ Cup Handicap (gr. II) and the 2007 Azeri Breeders’ Cup Stakes (gr. III). The other is Pilfer (by Deputy Minister), winner of the 2004 Go for Wand Stakes.
After producing the still-unraced Unbridled’s Song colt Dream Steeler in 2007, Pilfer was sent to the court of Bernardini by owners Twin Creeks Farm, Larry Byer, and Rancho San Miguel. To Honor and Serve was the result. Now the winner of the Nashua and Remsen Stakes (both gr. II) in his last two starts, To Honor and Serve will probably be a nominee for the Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old male, though it is highly unlikely that he will outpoll unbeaten Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner Uncle Mo . More importantly, the bay colt is now a live Triple Crown prospect for owner Live Oak Plantation and trainer Bill Mott, and on pedigree is only likely to get better as he continues to mature.
To Honor and Serve’s victory in the Remsen makes him the leading American-based money earner so far for Bernardini, who remains locked in a tight battle with Congrats and Bluegrass Cat for the freshman sire title with one month of racing remaining. The colt also has made a fair contribution to the still-growing legacy of Deputy Minister as a broodmare sire. While there is no chance that Deputy Minister will catch current leader Sadler’s Wells in this year’s broodmare sire standings, the late sire stands at a more than respectable sixth on the list and still has a chance of pulling ahead of fifth-place Dixieland Band by year’s end. Deputy Minister led the broodmare sire list in 2007 and scored a remarkable championship double as a maternal grandsire that year with Curlin , champion 3-year-old male and Horse of the Year, and Rags to Riches, champion 3-year-old filly.
To Honor and Serve is bred on a similar cross to Rags to Riches, as the champion filly was sired by A.P. Indy, sire of Bernardini. While not closely inbred, To Honor and Serve combines a 5x4x5 cross to Northern Dancer with crosses of 5x4 to Mr. Prospector and 5x5 to Buckpasser. All three of these strains have done well with A.P. Indy, so it is not surprising that they are showing some promise with Bernardini as well. Of course, since all three are common in the pedigrees of high-quality stock, Bernardini will have plenty of opportunities to test these possible affinities further. In the meantime, To Honor and Serve will get a well-earned break before resuming the road to the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) next spring. Should he live up to the promise of his pedigree as a 3-year-old, he will be one to watch as the Triple Crown trail heats up.