Belmont Winner's Pedigree: Breeding Empire

Published in the June 14 issue of The Blood-Horse
Empire Maker, the colt that was supposed to win the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby (gr. I) because of his pedigree, instead won the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes (gr. I) because of his pedigree. That's a lot of pedigree for one horse, even for one from the vast international breeding empire of Khalid Abdullah's Juddmonte Farms.

The fact that Empire Maker captured the race referred to as the "Test of the Champion" carries a double connotation because both his sire and dam are viewed as champions in one or more ways. It's a parentage of undeniable quality and substance.

Empire Maker's sire, deceased Unbridled, was a champion racehorse by virtue of winning the 1990 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I), both at 1 1/4 miles. As a stallion, Unbridled fit the bill as a champion of sorts because of his ability to sire runners capable of excelling at lengthy distances at the highest levels. Empire Maker, whose two previous grade I wins came at 1 1/8 miles, is one of the best examples.

Empire Maker's dam, Toussaud, achieved her championship-like status as a broodmare. A grade I winner for Juddmonte and trainer Bobby Frankel, she was named 2002 Kentucky Broodmare of the Year by the Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders.

Toussaud earned her broodmare title by virtue of an overall strong showing, not just through the efforts of one superstar. To date, she has produced four grade I winners--the others being Chester House (by Mr. Prospector), Honest Lady (by Seattle Slew), and Chiselling (by Woodman)--and one grade II winner. Juddmonte has bred and raced all of them.


As much as the Belmont demands stamina, there also is the need for speed. How else to explain all the recent winners stemming from the speed-oriented Mr. Prospector sire line?

Empire Maker, a great-grandson of Mr. Prospector, is the ninth Belmont winner and the seventh since 1995 descending from the epochal sire. Mr. Prospector started it off with Conquistador Cielo, whose splashing victory in the 1982 Belmont reminded many of the muddy going in this year's running. Mr. Prospector's grandson Hansel won the race in 1991, followed by male-line descendants Thunder Gulch (1995), Editor's Note (1996), Victory Gallop (1998), Lemon Drop Kid (1999), Commendable (2000), Point Given (2001), and now Empire Maker (see page 3258).

Unbridled's feat of siring the Belmont winner proved historic in a huge way. Unbridled matched Mr. Prospector's feat of siring individual winners of the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), Preakness Stakes (gr. I), and Belmont. Those stallions, for example, who sired a Derby/Preakness winner and a Belmont winner don't count, since that is only two horses. No doubling up in this category.

Unbridled's Derby winner, Grindstone, came along in 1996 and was a member of his sire's first crop of foals. His Preakness winner, Red Bullet, took the 2000 running. Mr. Prospector's Derby winner was Fusaichi Pegasus (in 2000) and Tank's Prospect (in 1985) was his Preakness winner.


If the name Bravura seems familiar, it's probably because you remember her as the fifth dam of Funny Cide, the Derby and Preakness winner who finished third as the even-money Belmont favorite. Well, Bravura also is the fifth dam of Empire Maker.

John Galbreath, who founded the prominent Darby Dan operation in the 1930s, bought Bravura in utero from the Aga Khan. Foaled in 1954, the same year that one of her relatives, the unraced stallion Alibhai, was represented by Kentucky Derby winner Determine, Bravura won just three of 20 races, but went on to produce stakes winners Hail the Pirates and Candalita for Darby Dan. Empire Maker's fourth dam, Ortalan, by Darby Dan stallion Swaps, was foaled in 1960, but it's probably safe to say that Galbreath paid little attention to her that year. After all, his Pittsburgh Pirates were on their way to a 1960 World Series championship over the New York Yankees highlighted by Bill Mazeroski's famous homer in the seventh game.

After that, Empire Maker's next three dams were bred by different people, two of whom, George Steinbrenner III and Ralph Wilson, also have ties to professional sports teams. Wilson, owner of the Buffalo Bills, bred third dam, Edee's Image, in the name of Oxford Stable. New York Yankees' owner Steinbrenner, who appeared on a Visa television commercial with star shortstop Derek Jeter that aired around Belmont time, bred his second dam, Image of Reality, in the name of Kinship Syndicate. Edee's Image captured three of a dozen races, but Image of Reality developed into a grade II winner.

Image of Reality's sire, In Reality, was the first great Florida-bred whose sire (Intentionally), dam (My Dear Girl), and broodmare sire (Rough'n Tumble) were major forces in Florida breeding. Intentionally and My Dear Girl were national champions. Unfortunately for In Reality, he was born the same year as Dr. Fager and Damascus, but he still accomplished enough to be remembered as one of the best from his crop. In Reality beat fellow Florida-bred Dr. Fager once, in the 1967 Jersey Derby, but that was after Dr. Fager was disqualified because of interference. Against Damascus, In Reality ran second to him in the Preakness.

Bred by Frances A. Genter and raced by her and her husband, Harold, in the name of Genter Stable, In Reality won nine other stakes, including such fixtures as the Metropolitan and Carter Handicaps in New York, the Pimlico Futurity, the Florida Derby, and the John B. Campbell Handicap at Bowie. Trained by Melvin "Sunshine" Calvert, In Reality earned $795,824 in his three years of racing.

In Reality, who was named after Calvert's habit of beginning sentences with "In reality," proved a force in breeding after entering stud at Tartan Farms near Ocala, Fla., through both his sons and daughters. He remains the primary conduit going back in male line to Man o' War. In Reality not only is the sire of Image of Reality, but he also sired Unbridled's second dam, Charedi. In Reality's final days were spent at Graham J. Beck's Gainesway Farm near Lexington. He died in 1989.

Dr. Fager also appears in the fourth generation of Empire Maker's pedigree as the broodmare sire of Unbridled's sire, Fappiano.