Big Horses

By John W. Greathouse Jr.
It has been a rough time at our family-owned farm recently. My mother, brothers, and I have had to bury the two best stallions ever to stand at Glencrest Farm. Clever Trick was euthanized June 5 and Wavering Monarch had to be put down just 12 days later.

We've received nice notes and letters from people all over the country telling us how sorry they are, and how much they appreciate us for taking such great care of these two horses past their prime. Clever Trick was 28; Wavering Monarch was 25.

I've always said good horses take you places and these two certainly did. When Wavering Monarch won the Ak-Sar-Ben Omaha Gold Cup Stakes, I didn't even know where Omaha was. It was fun going to the places I went and doing the things I did--places I don't go to anymore and things I don't do anymore.

I remember when my dad, brother David, and Jim Scully, for whom David was working at the time, flew to Oaklawn Park in 1979 to see Clever Trick win the Bachelor Stakes. We had tried to get Icecapade and so were very interested in this son of his. We bought half of Clever Trick for $750,000 from Will Farish and later syndicated him. Because Mr. Farish did not stand stallions at that time, Clever Trick stood his entire career at our farm. Mr. Farish always supported him with some nice mares.

Whenever Clever Trick would throw in a bad race, invariably three or four weeks later a quarter crack would show up. He had a bad foot and would breed that on if you weren't careful. We tried to look for mares with good feet. Today, one of the inherent problems is some breeders don't do enough homework. If you breed the wrong kind of mare to the wrong kind of horse, you will get the wrong kind of result.

Clever Trick first stood for $10,000 and a few years later I sold a share for $235,000. He never stood for more than $25,000 and has sired 67 stakes winners so far. The one surprise to me is how well they ran on grass.

He helped get our name out there. We had Full Out, who was a nice horse, but Clever Trick got us more recognition.

Wavering Monarch was raised here. I bought a share in his sire, Majestic Light, the same year I bought his dam, Uncommitted. Wavering Monarch wasn't the best-made horse up front. That was the Buckpasser coming out in him. The Buckpassers had knees, especially the right knee, but we never had a bit of trouble with Wavering Monarch or any of Buckpasser's sons or daughters. That's how they looked; it was when they didn't look that way that you had a problem.

Uncommitted was one of several mares I bought over the years from Mr. Ogden Phipps. I think what he saw in me was a person who was trying to help his line of mares, a person who believed in families more than racehorses and looks. Mr. Phipps was very good to me.

At Oaklawn when Wavering Monarch was three, I told Doc Danner, Randy Romero's agent, I had a horse for him to ride the opening day at Keeneland. Randy fired Doc and hired Fred Aime, but he kept the mount. He won that day by seven and a half.

Don Brumfield worked him a mile at Monmouth in 1:34 2/5. They said it was the fastest work on the East Coast by any horse since Secretariat.

He won the Haskell and stepped on a rock before the Travers and got a stone bruise. Following the Haskell, Spendthrift Farm bought a quarter interest in Wavering Monarch for $2.5 million, and he first stood there.

Wavering Monarch wasn't great big, but he could get you a big horse if you weren't careful. You didn't want to breed a great big mare to him; you wanted a mare that was refined. I also stayed away from inbreeding to Buckpasser.

He has sired 38 stakes winners, but made his mark as a broodmare sire. The amazing thing about both these horses is they've gone on to be good broodmare sires.

I'll be 61 this year. As I look back, it's been fun showing different people our farm over the years as they came to visit these two fine animals. It will be impossible to replace Clever Trick and Wavering Monarch. Not just because of what they have meant to us, but because of their help in our constant attempt to breed a good horse.

JOHN W. GREATHOUSE JR. is co-owner of Glencrest Farm near Midway, Ky.