The unlucky Uncle
Uncle was both the son of a legendary stallion and the sire of a champion racer. He was once described as “the colt which gave Colin the hardest race ever has had”. He was an extremely high-priced yearling. Yet today, he is largely forgotten
Uncle was born in 1905, from one of the first crops of British stallion *Star Shoot after his importation into the US. Years later, *Star Shoot would find even more fame as the sire of 1919 Triple Crown winner Sir Barton, Uncle’s dam was a pretty chestnut mare called The Niece, a daughter of champion miler and sire Alarm. As a juvenile, the dark chestnut colt was sold by breeder John E Madden to trainer Sam Hildreth. His price was a steep $30,000, which reflected both his pedigree and his potential
As a racehorse, Uncle flashed talent that would never be fully realized. A few days after his purchase, Uncle ran what amounted to a match race with the undefeated Colin. The nomination of both Uncle and Colin to the Saratoga Stakes scared away any competition, and the two went to the post alone. Colin was still recovering from a cough, giving Uncle and his backers confidence. Indeed, for most of the race it was impossible to tell who was better. Papers reported “…the rivals running as one horse for the first half mile, first one head, then the other showing in front…”. Going at a terrific pace, the pair went as one to the final turn, after which Colin began gradually edging away from Uncle, and “won cleverly by a length”. The two high-weighted juveniles (each carried 122 pounds) were so impressive in their struggle that the 1907 Saratoga Stakes was soon being called “one of the most brilliant races in turf history.”
Unfortunately, Uncle’s notorious bad luck made an appearance not long afterwards, when he was pulled up lame during a workout a few days later. Like so many of *Star Shoot’s offspring, he would always be plagued by tender feet. Hildreth took Uncle to Los Angeles, hoping to get him back in time for the winter racing, but it never happened. At the start of 1908, Hildreth shipped him to New York, where he confidently predicted that Uncle would become “the greatest three-year-old of the year”. Drifting back and forth between racing and resting, the colt knocked his leg badly in a workout for the Withers Stakes in early June, and the resulting soreness finally convinced Hildreth that enough was enough. He initially retired Uncle only for the year, but in November 1908 it was announced that the three-year-old colt was retired for good
In addition to troublesome feet, the sons of *Star Shoot also suffered from a lack of impact at stud. Uncle would be the only exception. From his very first crop of foals came the gelding Old Rosebud, a multiple champion and Hall of Fame member. Other good runners sired by Uncle included 1925 Blue Grass Stakes winner Step Along and California Derby winner Victoire. He also made an impact as a broodmare sire with Uncle’s Lassie, a stakes-placed mare who was the dam of 1929 Kentucky Derby winner Clyde Van Dusen, as well as Clipsetta, Debutante, and Latonia Oaks winner Betty Derr. Through Betty Derr, Uncle’s bloodlines carried through later champions Iron Liege and Swaps. Another of Uncle’s daughters, Hurakan, was the dam of 1924 Futurity Stakes winner and good sire Stimulus
Frac Daddy won the Ben Ali Stakes at Keeneland. 19 April 2014.
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Congratulations to his connections!
Photo: Matthew Stockman
I was there,Gandalf…
”-Isildur, we need to destroy it!
-You gonna drag this shit on the top of the mountain?
I was there the day the strength of Men failed…
2014 Daytona Speedweeks
Happy (39th) Birthday the the U.S.’s 11th Triple Crown Champion Affrimed, photographed here with his breeder and owner (and best friend) Patrice. - 21 Feb. 2014
Second semester senior attitude
every semester attitude. let’s be honest
My attitude since pre-k
Toes at the gate.
1933 British Champion 3-year-old Filly, Eclair, the year she also won the Falmouth Stakes.
Stablemates Top Billing and Peter Island (inside) work at Payson Park, February 2014.
Photo: Dana Wimpfheimer/EquiSport Photos