Blood-Horse Library

The Breeding Behind Domino

Floyd Oliver explores the breeding behind Domino, the "Black Whirlwind."

by Floyd Oliver

The story of Domino, the great son of Himyar, begins 186 years ago in 1822 with the foaling of Camillina (GB) by Camillus (GB). This family traces back through Cora (GB) (by Matchem) to the founding mare of the Bruce Lowe No. 23 family, that of Piping Peg’s Dam.

Camillina had three Thoroughbred foals, one of which was named Gallopade (GB), by Catton (GB). Catton was the sire of Trustee, whose contribution to racing in the United States came in the form of his daughter Fashion. Fashion beat Boston, the sire of Lexington, in the epic North vs. South match race that was run on Long Island in 1842, contested in four-mile heats.

How Gallopade reached North America or who imported her is not recorded. It is known that she appeared at the stud of James Jackson in Alabama in 1836. Jackson contributed heavily to the improvement of bloodstock in the New World by importing Glencoe, who left behind in England a daughter that would be named Pocahontas (GB).

After arriving in Alabama, Gallopade produced two foals by Leviathan (GB), and from then on was bred exclusively to Glencoe. She produced 6 foals by Glencoe, evenly divided by sex. The descendants of Gallopade were to become known as "the dance family," as so many were given names having to do with dancing. Before the turn of the century, this highly-regarded family produced over 70 stakes winners of over 114 stakes.

Gallopade’s first foal by Glencoe was a filly named Reel. She was one of the nonpareils of the breed and was probably the best of the Glencoes, which included Peytona, who defeated Fashion. Reel, whose portrait by Edward Troye hangs in The Jockey Club in New York, was undefeated until her last start in which she broke down. Reel was owned and raced by General Thomas Jefferson Wells of Louisiana and was retired to his Wellswood Stud at the end of her racing career. It is at this point that the story begins to get interesting.

Reel produced 13 foals between 1844 and 1860, the years leading up to the Civil War. When she was mated with Boston she produced Lecompte, the only horse ever to defeat Lexington. To Sovereign (GB) she threw Prioress, and to Wagner she produced Starke (FR). Both Prioress and Starke were taken to England in 1856 by Richard Ten Broeck, where they won the Cesarewitch and Goodwood Cup, respectively.

When the Civil War broke out, the events leading up to the production of Domino were in place. Reel had produced her last foal, a colt by Lexington named War Dance, who was considered to be so well bred that A. Keene Richards purchased him as a yearling for the then-unheard of sum of $5,000 in gold. When the Civil War began in 1861, A. Keene Richards, a vocal supporter of secession, fled the border state of Kentucky for New Orleans, where General Wells, the breeder of War Dance, was a leading citizen.

Because of the outbreak of war, War Dance ended up back at Wellswood, a situation that lasted until 1862 when the Union army sized New Orleans. Because General Wells was such a staunch supporter of the Confederacy, his property was quickly expropriated. But, before this could happen, Southerners quickly transferred their horses from Wellswood to a Texas ranch owned by the general.

Among the horses moved to Texas was an unnamed daughter of Lecompte who was conceived before Richard Ten Broeck took Lecompte to England in 1856. This mare was out of Edith (by Sovereign), who was out of Judith (by Glencoe), who in turn was out of Gallopade’s daughter Fandango (by Leviathan). The mare by Lecompte was the result of breeding a sire descending from Gallopade to a female descendant of the same mare, making the mare inbred 3 x 4 to Gallopade

Another refugee fleeing possible expropriation at Wellswood was the valuable War Dance, who ended up at the same ranch in Texas. While these horses were being hidden, War Dance was bred to the Lecompte Mare to produce a filly named Lizzy G — a mating that took place because War Dance was the only Thoroughbred stallion at the ranch. Lizzy G had an unusual pedigree: she was sired by War Dance, a son of Reel, and she was out of a mare by the stallion Lecompte, who was also a son of Reel. To put the icing on the cake, Reel was a daughter of Gallopade, who was also Lizzy G’s fifth dam. This gave Lizzy G. three direct crosses of one female line within five generations.

General Wells died during the war, which led to a dispersal of his horses after a general amnesty had been declared in 1865. Richards returned from Europe and reclaimed War Dance and moved him to Kentucky, where he became one of Lexington’s most valuable sons. Lizzy G, who was inbred 3 x 4 x 5 to Gallopade, was sold to a Colonel Garner who sent her to Kentucky, where she was kept until her death in 1881.

In Kentucky, Lizzy G was bred repeatedly to Enquirer, whose dam, Lida, was by Lexington. These matings resulted in the foals that were inbred 3 x 3 to Lexington in addition to their linebreeding to Gallopade and Glencoe.

The key to the pedigree of Domino’s dam Mannie Gray lies in her concentrations of the Gallopade family, as well as concentrations of Lexington and Glencoe blood, the key stallions of the post Civil War period. One of the strongest nicks in the history of the stud book was that of Lexington with Glencoe’s daughters, a phenomenon that can be seen in the 1861 crop in which Lexington sired three great horses from Glencoe mares: Kentucky, Norfolk, and Asteroid. Norfolk and Asteroid were never to know defeat, while Kentucky won 22 times and lost only to Norfolk.

When Mannie Gray was bred to Himyar to get Domino, another cross of Lexington was added through Himyar’s dam, Hira, who was by the great stallion. Added to this, Himyar was by Alarm, whose dam was by Stockwell, a son of matriarch Pocahontas, the daughter of Glencoe left behind when he was expatriated to America. This gave Domino three crosses of Lexington as well as four crosses of Glencoe.

The son of a bay sire and a black mare, Domino was a deep rich brown, so dark that he was generally described as black, hence the sobriquet "The Black Whirlwind" given him by a race writer and thereafter widely applied to him. Domino started 25 times with 19 wins. His weakness was lack of stamina. Domino won only one race at distances over one mile, but he was 18 out of 19 in races under a mile. Domino won $193,550, a world record for earnings in America that lasted 24 years.

Unfortunately, Domino sired only 20 foals before being found paralyzed in his paddock the year his first crop was foaled. Yet, with only 19 remaining offspring after one died as a foal, Domino was to have a lasting impact on Thoroughbred pedigrees.

Owner James R. Keene compensated for Domino’s lack of stamina by breeding him to imported mares who possessed endurance. His son Disguise (out of Bonnie Gal by Galopin (GB)) won the Jockey Club Stakes in England, beating English Triple Crown winner Diamond Jubilee over 1 1/4 miles. His daughter Cap and Bells, out of another daughter of Galopin, was the first American-bred to win the Oaks at Epsom over 1 1/2 miles. His best son, Commando, won the Belmont Stakes at 1 3/8 miles. Commando left three prepotent sons in Colin, Peter Pan, and Ultimus, from which descended Jock, Neddie, Black Toney, Blue Larkspur, Pennant, Equipoise, High Time, Stimulus, and many others.

In 1937, 40 years after his death, 36 American stakes winners descended in tail-male from Domino, and six of his descendants — High Time, Ultimus, Luke McLuke, Colin, Pennant, and Peter Pan — accounted for the dams of 28 more. Altogether, of the 267 American-bred horses that won stakes in 1937, 181 (68%) carried the blood of this sire of only 19 living foals.

 Read about similarities between Domino and Kentucky Derby morning-line favorite Big Brown.

Floyd Oliver is a native of Brooklyn, N.Y. He edited Golden Hoofprints Thoroughbred Newsletter and Sales Projections from 1978 to 1990. Other articles on breeding have been published by The Blood-Horse, Florida Horse, and the Horseman’s Journal. Oliver has been a farm manager and adviser to Carl M. Freeman of Tusculum Farm, Maryland, (breeder of Miss Alleged), and a consultant to Leonard C. Green of Holmdel, N.J., for whom he purchased the dam of November Snow and Scatmandu as agent.