Background Check: Acorn

Flightline traces to the 2000 Phipps-bred Acorn winner | Horsephotos


In this continuing series, we examine the past winners of significant filly/mare races by the lasting influence they've had on the breed. Up today is Belmont Park's GI Acorn S., the first leg in New York's prestigious summer trio of Grade I events for 3-year-old fillies.

Long a coveted prize, the Acorn has been designated a Grade I from the very beginning when the grading system became official in 1973. A disproportionate amount of its winners are in the Hall of Fame, ranging from Top Flight to Twilight Tear to Cicada to Ruffian, and so many more. The quality of the Acorn winners set the tone for their broodmare careers as well. Not surprisingly, the Acorn boasts a ridiculous number of high-class future broodmares among its winners, including a glorious five-year streak in the 1950s that saw five consecutive winners eventually cultivate champions among their descendants.

Following are highlights of some of the most important Acorn winners by what impact they've had on the sport through their sons and daughters.

Finder's Fee (1997, Storm Cat–Fantastic Find, by Mr. Prospector), bred by Phipps Stable: Granddam of 2022 Horse of the Year and current first-season sire Flightline (Tapit), whose fee of $200,000 at Lane's End is one of the highest introductory fees in history.

Prospectors Delite (1989, Mr. Prospector–Up the Flagpole, by Hoist the Flag), bred by W. S. Farish: The 2003 Broodmare of the Year produced Horse of the Year Mineshaft (A.P. Indy), MGISW Tomisue's Delight (A.P. Indy), and three other graded performers. She is also the granddam of GISW Mr. Sidney (Storm Cat).

Meadow Star (1988, Meadowlake–Inreality Star, by In Reality), bred by Jaime S. Carrion: This memorable ginger was granddam to the dams of champion and gone-too-soon sire Arrogate (Unbridled's Song) and MGISW Belle Gallantey (After Market).

Stella Madrid (1987, Alydar–My Juliet, by Gallant Romeo), bred by Calumet Farm: Japanese champions Lucky Lilac (Jpn) (Orfevre {Jpn}), Mikki Isle (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}), and Diamond Biko (Jpn) (Sunday Silence), as well as additional Japanese G1SW Aerolithe (Jpn) (Kurofune) and U.S. GISW Lilacs and Lace (Flower Alley) all trace to this classy bay.

Chris Evert (1971, by Swoon's Son–Miss Carmie, by T. V. Lark), bred by Echo Valley Horse Farm: From five daughters, U.S. champion Chief's Crown (Danzig); French champion Special Duty (GB) (Hennessy); GISWs Classic Crown (Mr. Prospector), Sightseek (Distant View), Tates Creek (Rahy), Etoile Montante (Miswaki), Obligatory (Curlin), and Dominican (El Corredor); and many more very useful graded winners hail from this lovely chestnut.

Marking Time (1963, To Market–Allemande, by Counterpoint), bred by Ogden Phipps and Wheatley Stable: Her champion daughter Relaxing (Buckpasser) turned into a Broodmare of the Year responsible for champion Easy Goer (Alydar), as well as additional GISWs Easy Now (Danzig) and Cadillacing (Alydar). Others tracing to her include GISW Strolling Along (Danzig) and several other high-class winners.

Gun Runner is one of several top horses descending from 1945 Acorn winner Gallorette | Sarah Andrew

Quill (1956, Princequillo {GB}–Quick Touch, by Count Fleet), bred by R. N. Webster: Champions Run the Gantlet (Tom Rolfe) and Awesome Feather (Awesome of Course), Japanese champion Maruzensky (Jpn) (Nijinsky II), and GISWs Dance of Life (Nijinsky II), Sumptious (Summing), Caucasus (Nijinsky II), and Vettori (Ire) (Machiavellian) are among those who trace to this grand gal.

Bayou (1954, Hill Prince–Bourtai, by Stimulus), bred by Claiborne Farm: A number of high-class horses descend from this mare, including champions Slew o' Gold (Seattle Slew) and War Pass (Cherokee Run); GI Belmont S. winner Coastal (Majestic Prince); and GISWs Aptitude (A.P. Indy), Sleep Easy (Seattle Slew), Oath (Known Fact), Slew's Exceller (Exceller), River Flyer (Riverman), and Victory Ride (Seeking the Gold).

Princess Turia (1953, Heliopolis {GB}–Blue Delight, by Blue Larkspur), bred by Calumet Farm: Her son Forward Pass (On-and-On) was just 1 1/4 lengths shy of winning the Triple Crown, but took the 1968 sophomore colt championship.

High Voltage (1952, Ambiorix {Fr}–Bynamo, by Menow), bred by Wheatley Stable: This elegant gray's sons and grandsons included U.S. champion Impressive (Court Martial {GB}), MGISW Majestic Light (Majestic Prince), and SW Bold Commander (Bold Ruler), the last two both sires of note.

Happy Mood (1951, Mahmoud {Fr}–La Reigh, by Count Gallahad), bred by Mrs. John D. Hertz: Canadian Horses of the Year With Approval (Caro {Ire}) and Izvestia (Icecapade), Canadian champion Serenading (A.P. Indy), GI Belmont S. winner Touch Gold (Deputy Minister), GI Kentucky Oaks winner Buryyourbelief (Believe It), and other GISWs Haynesfield (Speightstown), Healthy Addiction (Boston Harbor), and Pretty Discreet (Private Account) all descend from this splendid chestnut.

Secret Meeting (1950, Alibhai {GB}–Burgoo Maid, by Burgoo King), bred by James C. Brady: Broodmare of the Year Anne Campbell (Never Bend); champions Sensational (Hoist the Flag) and Rushing Fall (More Than Ready); Epsom Oaks winner Long Look (Ribot {GB}); and GISWs Trumpet's Blare (Vice Regent), Dancealot (Round Table), Albert the Great (Go for Gin), Desert Wine (Damascus), and Menifee (Harlan) all trace to her.

Nothirdchance (1948, Blue Swords–Galla Colors, by Sir Galahad III {Fr}), bred by Bieber-Jacobs Stables: Dam of champion Hail to Reason (Turn-to {Ire}), who later turned leading sire, and ancestress of GISW and sire Meadowlake (Hold Your Peace).

Gallorette (1942, Challenger II {GB}–Gallette, by Sir Gallahad III {Fr}), bred by Preston M. Burch: Not only does stellar young sire and 2017 Horse of the Year Gun Runner (Candy Ride {Arg}) trace to her, but so do 2005 Horse of the Year Saint Liam (Saint Ballado), Irish champion Minstrella (The Minstrel), Canadian champion Charlie Barley (Affirmed), and GISWs Success Express (Hold Your Peace), Greenwood Lake (Meadowlake), Air Express (Ire) (Salse), Buster's Ready (More Than Ready), Rolling Fog (Posse), Whitmore's Conn (Kris S.), and Funtastic (More Than Ready).

Nellie L. (1940, Blenheim II {GB}–Nellie Flag, by American Flag), bred by Calumet Farm: Granddam of champion and Kentucky Derby/Belmont S. winner Bold Forbes (Irish Castle), this captivating bay has a number of other classy descendants, including GISWs Life At the Top (Seattle Slew), Lakeway (Seattle Slew), Saratoga Six (Alydar), and Jilbab (A.P. Indy), as well as English G1 winner Dunbeath (Grey Dawn II {Fr}).

Proud One (1938, Blenheim II {GB}–Some Pomp, by Pompey), unknown breeder: Her descendants have included 1965 Kentucky Derby winner Lucky Debonair (Vertex), as well as GISWs Lady Love (Dr. Fager) and Tantalizing (Tom Rolfe).

Baba Kenny (1928, Black Servant–Betty Beall, by North Star III {GB}), bred by Idle Hour Stock Farm: This very first winner of the Acorn set the tone with her descendants including daughter Bee Mac (War Admiral), who beat the boys in the Hopeful S.; 1988 Horse of the Year and nine-time GISW Alysheba (Alydar), the second of four consecutive GI Breeders' Cup Classic winners to bring a GI Kentucky Derby win to the year-end championship race; G1SW and good sire Lear Fan (Roberto); multiple back-type winner and good sire Better Self (Bimelech); and another Acorn winner in Riverina (Princequillo {GB}).

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