By Katie Petrunyak
Breeder Emory Alexander Hamilton is looking forward to her trip to Saratoga this weekend to cheer on the talented Olympiad (Speightstown) in what looks to be an ultra-competitive edition of the GI Whitney S.
“He has done so well; it's really amazing,” Hamilton said enthusiastically. “The Whitney is going to be a tough race. There are some really good horses going there, but Bill Mott and his owners have been patient with him and it has paid off.”
Hamilton, who looks forward to drawing out the mating plans for her 10-mare broodmare band every year, said that the cross that produced four-time graded stakes-winning Olympiad was an easy pick. She sent Olympiad's dam Tokyo Time (Medaglia d'Oro), a third-generation homebred for the accomplished breeder, to Speightstown in the hopes of injecting a bit of speed into the pedigree of the resulting foal.
Olympiad was foaled in Kentucky at Middlebrook Farm, which is owned by Hamilton's sister Helen Alexander, and while he wasn't dropping jaws from the beginning, he quickly started to progress as he matured and went through the sales prepping program at Gainesway Farm as a yearling.
“As a foal he was nice, but he wasn't like, 'wow,'” Hamilton admitted. “Then he started to develop as a yearling. Especially in the last three months before the sale, he started to look athletic, he walked really well, and the rest is history.”
At the 2019 Keeneland September Sale, the bay colt sold for $700,000 to Solis/Litt Bloodstock. Lightly raced at two and three, this year Olympiad has maintained a perfect five-for-five campaign for owners Grandview Equine, Cheyenne Stable and LNJ Foxwoods. The 4-year-old's most recent definitive victory in the GII Stephen Foster S. punched his ticket to the GI Breeders' Cup Classic.
Olympiad is the latest success in a long line of top-level racehorses over the past four decades to arise from Hamilton's fruitful breeding program that was built off her foundation mare Too Chic (Blushing Groom).
Bred by Hamilton's family's legendary King Ranch, Too Chic went through the ring at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July Yearling Sale in 1980.
“I was determined to have her,” Hamilton recalled. “She was not huge as a yearling, but she was very athletic looking. She was a bit crooked, but I had the benefit of knowing the family. She was a descendent of the French mare Monade (Klairon), who my grandfather had bought for King Ranch. Monade was a good size, but she was not perfect physically and she was a champion.”
Hamilton's instincts about her $100,000 purchase proved correct when Too Chic raced to Grade I success, but the true worth of the daughter of Blushing Groom was realized later on in her breeding career.
From 11 foals, Too Chic produced eight winners led by Chic Shirine and Queena, both Grade I-winning daughters of Mr. Prospector that went on to be prolific producers for Hamilton.
Queena, herself a champion on the racetrack, was responsible for Grade I winner and sire Brahms (Danzig) as well as graded stakes winner and producer La Reina (A. P. Indy).
Chic Shirine produced a pair of Grade II winners and four graded stakes producers. Among those daughters, Flying Passage (A.P. Indy) is the dam of MGSW Hungry Island (More Than Ready), one of Hamilton's top earners on the racetrack; GSW Soaring Empire (Empire Maker); Flying Dixie (Dixieland Band), the dam of Grade I-winning millionaire and sire Preservationist; and Tokyo Time, the dam of Olympiad.
Like many of Hamilton's race fillies in recent years, Tokyo Time was trained by Shug McGaughey. She won four starts on the turf and ran second in the 2013 GIII Herecomesthebride S.
After producing Olympiad, Tokyo Time is also responsible for a 3-year-old filly named Friendship Road (Quality Road) who has made three starts for Hamilton and McGaughey this year, as well as a juvenile filly by War Front who brought $450,000 at last year's Keeneland September Sale and a yearling colt by American Pharoah that is pointing for the sales ring this fall. While the mare did not produce a foal this year, Hamilton reported that Tokyo Time is now carrying a full-sister to Olympiad.
Hamilton has maintained the same philosophy over the decades of selling her colts and retaining almost all of her fillies to race and eventually join her boutique broodmare band.
A few of her most recent successes on the racetrack include Texian (Quality Road), who hails from the Queena family line and broke her maiden at Laurel Park in June, as well as two daughters of Hungry Island. Hungry Island's first foal Hungry Kitten (Kitten's Joy) made three trips to the winner's circle and placed in a stake at Belmont in 2020. The mare's second filly Flanigan's Cove (Kitten's Joy) broke her maiden at Keeneland last fall as a 3-year-old for McGaughey and is currently training at Saratoga.
As Hamilton explains, one of the keys to her program after raising generations of influential producers has been to focus on maintaining the quality of her stock.
“It's about trying to protect your mares when you breed them and figuring out the best stallion [for them] as best you can,” she said. “You're not going to knock it out of the park every time, but if you have a stakes winners, that's really exciting. That's what I've tried to do is protect the family and send the fillies to trainers I like.”
As each branch of Too Chic's family continues to blossom year after year, the blue hen mare has become even more meaningful to Hamilton.
“My favorite horse of all time, by far, is Too Chic,” she said, “Everything comes from her that I've owned and it's been a very prolific family, but you also have to get really lucky. It's hard to breed horses, especially in the first couple of matings before you know what kind of foals the mare might have. That's where a lot of luck comes in and you just try to breed them to something good in order to keep the quality up.”