Bold Place in History
Photo: Blood-Horse Library
Bold Reason
When it comes to identifying the great Irish stallion Sadler’s Wells, it’s easy to remember that his sire is the legendary Northern Dancer. But when it comes to naming Sadler’s Wells’ broodmare sire, it’s not that easy for some. After all, he’s not the first stallion to play second fiddle in a pedigree to Northern Dancer. More than a few people need help remembering his name and not confusing it with a contemporary bearing a similar name.

So it is probably best just to remember that Bold Reason is the broodmare sire of Sadler’s Wells, and Bold Reasoning is the sire of Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, and that Hail to Reason is both the sire of Bold Reason and broodmare sire of Bold Reasoning.

Before siring Fairy Bridge, Sadler’s Wells’ dam, Bold Reason was a top racehorse, best remembered for carving out an enviable win streak after competing in all three 1971 classics and placing in two of them.

Bred in Kentucky by Harry F. Guggenheim, Bold Reason raced for New York textile manufacturer William A. Levin and was trained by Angel Penna, a future Hall of Famer. On his female family side, Bold Reason traced back to Col. E.R. Bradley’s blue hen mare Knockaney Bridge, whose importation from Europe in 1924 preceded that of Bradley’s greatest broodmare, La Troienne. Closer up in his pedigree, Bold Reason was a half-brother to Guggenheim’s 1962 champion 2-year-old Never Bend, who by 1971 had gained international stature as the sire of the great European champion Mill Reef.

As good as Bold Reason became, it’s hard to believe that he was one of those horses who went into the Kentucky Derby with only a maiden win and no stakes-placings to his credit. Remarkably, he was not a member of the mutual field entry.

Sent off at 18-1, Bold Reason rallied from 18th after the first quarter mile to finish third behind winner Canonero II and Jim French. Two weeks later in the Preakness, he failed to mount much of a challenge and finished fifth as Canonero II won again. In the June 5 Belmont Stakes three weeks later, regular rider Jean Cruguet kept Bold Reason closer to the pace than in the two previous races, and the two finished third behind 34-1 winner Pass Catcher and Jim French. Canonero II, the early leader, ran fourth as the favorite in what would be his final race of the year.

Penna didn’t give Bold Reason much of a rest after the 1 1/2-mile Belmont. In fact, he ran him twice more in June and three times in July, mostly at long-winded distances.

Still eligible for non-winners other than, Bold Reason tried grass for the first time and won against older horses at 1 3/8 miles at Belmont Park to start a six-race win streak. After another grass victory at that distance over his elders at Belmont, Penna returned him to the dirt for the $100,000-added Hollywood Derby at 1 1/4 miles and another try against Jim French.

Under new rider Laffit Pincay Jr., Bold Reason beat Jim French for the first time in several tries as he went under the wire 2 1/2 lengths in front of that rival. The weights, 113 pounds for Bold Reason and 126 for highweight Jim French, might have made the difference as the latter could not match strides with the winner in the stretch.

Bold Reason was back on the turf for his next two starts. He won the $50,000-added Lexington Handicap at 1 3/16 miles under John L. Rotz at Aqueduct and the $125,000-added American Derby at 1 1/8 miles under Pincay at Arlington Park. His Lexington time, 1:54 4/5, was four-fifths of a second slower than the Aqueduct course record. Following the American Derby, it was announced that Bold Reason was being syndicated for $3.2 million.

Bold Reason and Jim French figured to be back in action in the $100,000-added Travers Stakes Aug. 21 at Saratoga, but Jim French turned into a no-show because of ownership problems that could not be resolved prior to the 1 1/4-mile race. Bold Reason scored in front of a record crowd of 30,011 over a field that included Pass Catcher and Queen’s Plate winner Kennedy Road.

A bona fide contender for champion 3-year-old male, Bold Reason needed a major victory over older horses to have a shot for Horse of the Year. He never got it.

Penna, who had to contend with Bold Reason’s troublesome knee, scratched Bold Reason from the $100,000-added Woodward Stakes at Belmont in October after the colt missed a couple of workouts. Penna hoped to run him in the $150,000 Washington, D.C., International on grass at Laurel the end of the month, but Bold Reason was retired instead. Bold Reason, who had won seven of 17 races and earned $304,082 in two years of racing, missed out on champion 3-year-old male honors to Canonero II, but was co-highweighted with him at 126 pounds on the Daily Racing Form Free Handicap for 3-year-old males.

Bold Reason, who was produced from the Djeddah mare Lalun, stood two years at Robin’s Nest Farm near Ocala, Fla., before being moved for the 1974 breeding season to the Hancock family’s Claiborne Farm near Paris, Ky. It was in his first season at Claiborne that he sired Fairy Bridge.

Bred by Claiborne, Fairy Bridge was sold to the Irish branch of the British Bloodstock Agency for $40,000 at the 1976 Keeneland July yearling sale. Sent to Ireland to trainer Vincent O’Brien, she raced just twice for owner Robert Sangster, but was a champion 2-year-old off those two races.

Fairy Bridge’s racing career was summed up succinctly in Timeform Racehorses of 1977: “Long odds on when successful twice at Phoenix Park in July, getting home by a head from more experienced Vexed Voter in minor event and beating Mother White by 5 lengths in five runner £1,800 race; suited by 6 f; very useful; stud.”

In 1981, Fairy Bridge produced Sadler’s Wells for Sangster’s Swettenham Stud and Partners. After a championship racing career in Europe, Sadler’s Wells embarked on an unprecedented stallion career in which he topped the English/Irish sires list 14 times. Sadler’s Wells, now 27 and pensioned at Coolmore Stud in Ireland, has sired 297 stakes winners.

Bold Reason sired several other important winners among his 21 stakes winners. Sound Reason was a Canadian champion, and Castilla and The Liberal Member were both grade I winners. One of the top turf fillies in the early 1980s, Castilla scored her big win in the Yellow Ribbon Invitational Stakes (gr. IT) at Santa Anita. The Liberal Member captured the 1979 Brooklyn Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont Park and ran second in it two years later.

After several years at Claiborne, Bold Reason was moved to Levin’s Gold Mill Farms near Old Westbury, N.Y. He died there in 1985 when the farm was under new ownership and renamed Samantha Farms.

Bold Reason failed in his efforts to sire a son to help perpetuate the Hail to Reason sire line, but his place in pedigrees seems assured through Sadler’s Wells.

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