Saturday, December 5, 2009

Chapter 12

Fanny, get your gun

(Tales of kidnapping and murder)

The Dancer's second crop of foals in 1967 produced some pretty special horses.

(click on charts to enlarge them)

Nijinsky’s race record has been well documented but as a sire he surpassed his father, producing 155 stakes winners (18% of his total foals) and broodmare sire to more than 240 stakes winners. He was the leading sire in England in 1986 and leading broodmare sire in 1993 and 1994. He produced many champions and winners of the Epsom Derby, Kentucky Derby and three Breeders Cups. His most notable runners appear on the chart that follows.

Ferdinand ($3,777,978 29-8-9-6) was the leading money winner of the Nijinsky crops. The handsome chestnut won the 1986 Kentucky Derby and followed that up in 1987 winning the Breeders Cup Classic nosing out the 1987 Kentucky Derby winner Alysheba. The victory in the Classic earned Ferdinand Horse of the Year honours in 1987. The rest of Ferdinand’s story is sad. He had no success as a stallion and in 1994 was shipped off to Japan for another shot as a sire. It was discovered some time later that he probably met his end in a slaughterhouse in Japan. Despite his regal breeding and great success on the track he was not immune from the fate that meets many less talented thoroughbreds. New York owners and breeders introduced a “Ferdinand Fee” in 2006 to funnel money into charities involved in the rescue and retirement of thoroughbreds and a he was instrumental in legislation changes that are pending in the US.

Sky Classic ($3,320,398 29-15-6-1) was Nijinsky’s next leading money winner and a member of Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. He was a Sovereign award winner at two and double Sovereign award winner at four when he won several stakes including the Rothmans where he established a turf record for 1-1/2 miles. He was injured for most of his three-year old campaign. As a five-year old he won the Arlington and Manhattan Handicaps (he set a Belmont track record for 1-1/2 miles in the Manhattan) and finished second in the Arlington Million and Breeders cup Turf. Sky Classic went on to a very successful career as a stallion where he had 317 winners from his first 11 crops. His most successful progeny to date was the 2006 Sovereign award winner Sky Conqueror ($1,688,534 17-7-2-3).

One of Nijinsky’s top producing daughters was the lightly raced Jood (1989). Among her 5 winners was the World Champion Fantastic Light (1996) ($8,486,957 25-12-5-3) winner of the Breeders Cup Turf, Hong Kong Cup and the Dubai Sheema Classic.


Undefeated Lammtarra’s ($1,983,527 4-4-0-0) story is another amazing tale that is stranger than fiction. The son of Nijinsky raced only once as a two-year-old and won but injured himself shortly thereafter. His trainer Alex Scott (age 34) was shot dead on Sept 30, 1994. A disgruntled employee was later convicted of the murder. Lammtarra (Arabic for “invisible”) was sent to Dubai to heal for his owner Saeed Maktoum Al Maktoum and get acquainted with his new trainer. Lammtarra fell ill with an abscess on a lung and almost died himself.

Lammtarra entered England’s Classic, the Epsom Derby coming off his illness without a prep race. Lammtarra won, breaking a 60 year-old record in the process.

Before he was shot, Alex Scott placed a wager of 1,600 pounds on Lammtarra to win the Derby (some 10 months before the event). The win would have earned 54,000 pounds for Scott but bets like this, according to British law, die with the bettor. In this case, the law was ignored and the bookie paid the widow in full.

From there it was on to Ascot and the King George VI – Queen Elizabeth Stakes where in scary but typical fashion, Lammtarra came from behind to win again. On his tribute website they described his ability to accelerate as “sprouting wings to power past the field”. People have been at a loss for words to describe the same ability to accelerate in Nijinsky and the Dancer … this one fits them all.

In his final race (the race his sire could not win), Lammtarra won the French Classic, Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp. That would be Lammtarra`s last race. He was sold for 4,400,000,000 yen ($30 million US) and stands at stud today in Dubai for his Japanese owners where he carries on both male lines (through Nijinsky) and female lines of the Dancer (through daughter Royal Statute (1969)).


The Dancer’s daughter, Fanfreluche (Fanny) had an outstanding racing career. She was Canadian horse of the year in 1970 and Champion 3 year old filly in the United States. She won 9 stakes including the Manitoba Derby, Quebec Derby, Alabama Stakes at Saratoga and Benson and Hedges where she set a track record. She was 2nd in the Queen’s Plate, Canadian Oaks and Spinster Stakes at Keeneland. After a stellar racing career she was destined for the famous Claiborne farms where she started her career as a broodmare for owner Jean-Louis Levesque, the prominent Quebec industrialist and outspoken political supporter of a united Canada.

Fanny’s first born was the outstanding colt L’Enjoleur (1972) out of Buckpasser. L’Enjoleur ($546,079 30-15-4-2) was two-time, Canadian Horse of the Year, winning many stakes including the Laurel Futurity and the Queen’s Plate (the Queen’s Plate victory fulfilled a life long dream for Levesque). In 1975 Fanny delivered the filly, La Voyageuse ($524,393 56-26-10-7) sired by Ten Tam and in 1977 the Secretariat sired colt Medaille D’or ($148,750 17-3-5-4).

On June 25, 1977 Fanny was in foal to Secretariat for the second time and grazing in her paddock on the lush 3,200 acres of Claiborne’s nursery when she disappeared. It didn’t take long for police and the staff to determine she had been kidnapped in broad daylight just after 5 pm in the afternoon. There was an intense search and a reward offered but nothing turned up and to make matters worse Fanny was on medication to prevent a miscarriage.

Why Fanfreluche? There were so many other mares, yearlings and weanlings to pick from, many of them pegged at a higher value than her $500,000 insurance value not to mention the multi-million dollar syndicated stallions like Nijinsky and Secretariat on the property. It was a story worthy of a mystery novel, her disappearance happened at the exact time the Queen’s Plate was going to post in Canada where Levesque had another horse entered. When Fanfreluche finished second in the 1970 Queen’s Plate separatist terrorists bombed Levesque’s home. They did not take kindly to his participation in an event honoring the British monarch. It was looking like her kidnapping may have been politically motivated. There was never a ransom demand and almost everyone had given up hope of finding her when in December the FBI stumbled on Brandy, a pregnant mare being used as a riding horse on an old farm in Tomkinsville, Kentucky. It was Fanny.

In July, a neighbor of the farmer found the mare running loose near the side of a road, roped her and took her to the farmer assuming it was one of the farmer’s horses. The farmer reported her to the local sheriff but the connection was never made. When no one claimed the mare he thought his wife could enjoy her as a saddle horse and they named her Brandy. Ron Turcotte, Canada’s hall of fame jockey would have been impressed to see the farmer’s wife ride Brandy, considering he was the only jockey who could handle the mare who had inherited her sire’s ornery disposition. The police feel the kidnappers just turned her loose in the backwoods of Kentucky over 100 miles from the scene of the crime where she would have to fend for herself. Not only was she alive, she was still in foal and gave birth to “Sain et Sauf” (Safe and Sound) in 1978. Sain et Sauf did race and won but otherwise was not very successful. Fanny went on to deliver 12 more foals including D’accord (1979) ($163,368 10-5-2-1) another Secretariat colt and her last foal born in 1991, Red Alydar ($544,227 21-4-3-2) by Alydar.

Fanfreluche, Jean-Louis Levesque and Ron Turcotte are all members of the Canadian Horse Racing hall of fame along with the Dancer, of course.

Swinging Apache from that 2nd Dancer crop raced 6 times winning all 6 including the Ascot Sophomore Stakes, Canadian Derby and Harbour Handicap. I have not been able to determine what happened to Swinging Apache, he did not race again nor did he breed (in fact he may have been a gelding but I could not confirm that).

Vice Regent was a full brother to the Canadian Champion Viceregal from Dancer’s first crop. Vice Regent would only race 5 times winning twice and earning a paltry $6,215 but as a sire he was by far, the most successful brother and still keeps the Dancer’s bloodlines alive today. Vice Regent was Canada’s leading sire for 13 years, siring over 400 foals with 60 of them being stakes winners and 16 of them earning in excess of $400,000 including the fillies Twice The Vice (1991) ($1,447,064 23-12-6-1) and Bessarabian (1982) ($1,032,640 37-18-5-4), colts Regal Intention (1985) ($1,083,103 41-14-7-10) Regal Classic (1985) ($1,056,584 27-8-8-3) and Deputy Minister (1979) ($606,964 22-12-2-2) who would go on to be the leading sire in the U.S. in 1997, 1998 and a top 10 broodmare sire since 2001.

Deputy Minister sired over 1000 foals in 20 crops from 1985 until his death in September 2004. He sired over 81 stakes winners so far who have tallied over $70,000,000 in earnings. A chart of Deputy Minister’s best performers follows.

Great story about Fanny from Barbara Livingston with a couple pics

Fanfreluche - Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame
Deputy Minister - Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame
Vice Regent - Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame
Nijinsky - Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame

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