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2010 Breeders' Cup Classic winner Blame
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Mathea Kelley

Taking the Blame

Blame descends from a historic family associated with Claiborne for nearly 60 years.

As if celebrating Claiborne Farm’s 100th year anniversary in Kentucky weren’t exciting enough, members of the Hancock family now have something extra special to celebrate. Their homebred colt Blame , who descends from a historic female family associated with the farm for nearly 60 years, defeated the great Zenyatta in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) at Churchill Downs and might have clinched Horse of the Year in the process. At the very least, Blame, who has two other grade I wins, in the Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill and the Whitney Handicap at Saratoga, has clinched champion older male honors. Claiborne races Blame with Adele Dilschneider, whose grandfather, John Olin, won the 1974 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) with Cannonade.

Claiborne, which had its roots in Virginia under the ownership of Richard Hancock following the Civil War, is run by Seth Hancock, who took over the farm from his dad, Arthur B. “Bull” Hancock Jr., who succeeded his father, Arthur Sr. It was Bull Hancock who bought Blame’s fifth dam, Rough Shod II, for 3,500 guineas at Tattersalls in England in 1951.

Claiborne Slideshow
ClaiborneCelebrating 100 years of Claiborne.

Seth Hancock, who took command of the Paris, Ky., nursery in 1972, purchased Arch, Blame’s sire, for $710,000 at the 1996 Keeneland July yearling sale. Arch was consigned by King Ranch Farm, agent. Helen Groves and her daughter, Helen Alexander, both of King Ranch, were the breeders of Arch.

Campaigned by Claiborne and Dilschneider and trained by Frank Brothers, Arch experienced a shortened career. He won at Keeneland in the fall in his sole start at 2, but didn’t run again until April of his 3-year-old season because of sore shins. He won his first start back by 4 1/2 lengths at Keeneland in the spring but grabbed a quarter and didn’t run again until Saratoga.

At the Spa, Arch raced twice and won once, but that win came by an impressive nine lengths at 1 1/8 miles. A month later he took the Super Derby (gr. I) at 1 1/4 miles at Louisiana Downs. Returned to Kentucky, Arch won the Fayette Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland in track-record time for 1 3/16 miles over the previous year’s Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Touch Gold.

Hancock and Brothers decided to give Arch a shot in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, contested at Churchill. Sent off at 26-1, Arch was among the leaders at the top of stretch but weakened and finished ninth. He was rested for a 4-year-old campaign, but an ankle proved bothersome, and he was retired in February 1999 with five wins from seven starts and earnings of $480,969. He entered stud that year.

Arch not only possessed a fine race record upon entering stud at Claiborne but an extraordinary female family. His dam, Aurora (by Claiborne stallion Danzig), was a stakes winner and graded stakes-placed. Aurora currently is the dam of four stakes winners including 2010 grade I winner Acoma.

Arch’s second dam is champion Althea, dam of four stakes winners. Third dam is 1983 Kentucky Broodmare of the Year Courtly Dee.

Arch, whose runners have earned more than $5.7 million this year, has sired a career total of 27 stakes winners and 35 stakes-placed runners. His runners include Canadian Horse of the Year Arravale, English champion Les Arcs, grade I turf winner Prince Arch, and Pine Island, who won the Alabama Stakes (gr. I) and the Gazelle Stakes (gr. I) and ran second in the Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I).

Arch offers an attractive alternative to the pervasive Northern Dancer and Mr. Prospector sire lines. Arch is by Kris S., who developed a reputation for siring solid runners. Same goes for Arch’s grandsire, Roberto, winner of the 1972 Epsom Derby (Eng-I) and the sole horse to beat English great Brigadier Gerard.

Like many of Claiborne’s other homebred stakes winners, Blame has a pedigree blessed with premier stallions that have stood at the farm. Seeking the Gold, Blame’s maternal grandsire who sired 91 stakes winners, stood at Claiborne. Others are Danzig, Mr. Prospector, and Nijinsky II in Blame’s third generation, and Princequillo, Buckpasser, and Forli in the fourth generation.

When it comes time for Blame to enter stud, plenty of attention will be focused on his third dam Special. A daughter of Forli, Special is the dam of French champion and major sire Nureyev and the second dam of Irish champion and prominent stallion Sadler’s Wells.

Blame’s dam, Liable, also contributed racing class to the colt’s pedigree. Liable won six races and placed in two stakes from 15 starts and earned $235,071. Liable’s offspring include additional stakes winner Tend and Blame’s older full brother Curvature, who earned $191,209.

Liable’s youngest foal is an unraced 2-year-old full sister to Blame named Might. This year Liable produced a Tiznow  filly that later died. She then was bred to Tiznow but came up barren.

Pedigree notes for all fourteen 2010 Breeders' Cup winners can by found in the November 13, 2010, issue of The Blood-Horse magazine.