Bred in Kentucky by E. R. Bradley's
Idle Hour Stock Farm, Blue Larkspur was one of the best, if not the
best runner to come from Idle Hour's paddocks. The beloved champion
of his crop, he was renown for his speed and courage, fighting physical
infirmities. At stud he became a major sire and one of the most important
broodmare sires of the 20th Century.
Blue Larkspur was the product
of two homebred parents, Black Servant and Blossom Time, and in fact,
both parents descended from the same English mare, Padua (by Thurio).
Padua's daughter *Padula (by Laveno) was imported by Bradley and produced
Idle Hour stakes winners Best Pal, Boot to Boot and Black Servant.
Black Servant, a son of Bradley's foundation sire Black Toney, was
a talented runner, winner of the Blue Grass Stakes at three, and then
an unlucky second to stablemate Behave Yourself in the 1921 Kentucky
Padua was also the dam of Padilla,
whose daughter, *Vaila (by Fariman) was also imported by Bradley.
*Vaila was a major producer for Idle Hour, dam of stakes winners Miss
Jemima, Blossom Time, Broadway Jones and Beelzebub. Blossom Time,
a daughter of Idle Hour's stallion *North Star III, had won the Pimlico
Futurity at two. Blue Larkspur, by Black Servant, was her second foal,
and was inbred 3x4 to Padula.
Trained by "Derby Dick"
Thompson, Blue Larkspur was one of the best juveniles of 1928, ranked
behind High Strung, but even with Jack High, after scoring victories
in the Juvenile, National Stallion, and Saratoga Special Stakes. At
three, he dominated the season with wins in the Belmont Stakes, Arlington
Classic, and Withers Stakes, and was considered a very unlucky fourth
behind Clyde Van Dusan in that year's Kentucky Derby. Blue Larkspur
bowed a tendon at Saratoga in August and was blistered and sidelined
until the next year.
At four, Blue Larkspur started
only three times, winning twice, in the Stars and Stripes Handicap
(setting a new track record for nine furlongs) and Arlington Cup,
but shortly after the last race, bowed again and was retired. Even
with that short season, he was considered the best handicapper in
training. His final career line reads 16 starts, ten wins (up to 12
furlongs) and earnings of $272,070.
But Why Not
Revoked at Stud
|Blue Larkspur at Stud|
Blue Larkspur was returned to
his birthplace, standing alongside his sire, Black Servant, and grandsire,
Black Toney in the Idle Hour stallion barn. At stud, he proved remarkably
effective, but his offspring were noted for being delicate and having
more speed and early maturity than the classic stamina which he himself
had displayed with a win in the Belmont. Blue Larkspur sired 290 foals,
44 stakes winners, the best of which was probably the great sprint
mare Myrtlewood. His other champions included the three-year-old filly
But Why Not, handicap mare Painted Veil, and steeplechaser Oedipus.
Other top runners were C.C.A. Oaks winner Elpis, Kentucky Oaks winner
Blue Grass, and the good colts Revoked, Blue Swords, Boxthorn, Hawley,
and the brilliant two-year-old Sky Larking.
While several of his sons became
respectable stallions (Revoked, Blue Swords, Blue Gay, Boxthorn, Blue
Flyer, Bold and Bad, Best Seller), Blue Larkspur gained an even greater
reputation as one of the best broodmare sires of his era. His daughters
produced the likes of Twilight Tear, Real Delight, Princess Turia,
Bull Page, Busanda, Alanesian, Cosmic Bomb, Ancestor, Durazna, By
Jimminy, No Strings, Hall of Fame, Cohoes, War Jeep, Navy Page, Blue
Prince, Blue Banner, How Now, and Dinner Partner.
Blue Larkspur mares crossed with
everything, but were particularly effective with Calumet Farm's stallion
Bull Lea. In fact, one of the selection factors used by Warren Wright
in building up his broodmare band in the early days of Calumet was
to purchase stakes-winning daughters of Blue Larkspur. From these
mares, he bred Twilight Tear, Real Delight, and Princess Turia among
Blue Larkspur was an extremely
handsome, well-balanced individual. His head was a little plain with
an almost convex profile, but put on an elegant, powerful neck. Gifted
with a beautiful shoulder and well developed hindquarter with a long,
sloping hip, Blue Larkspur's major flaw was a lightness of bone which
he inherited from his dam's sire, *North Star III. He was a solid
dark bay with the left hind coronet white in back.
When Col. Bradley died in 1946, his bloodstock was dispersed, including the treasured stallions. Twenty-year-old Blue Larkspur became the property of King Ranch and was relocated to the King Ranch property just across the Old Frankfort Pike from Idle Hour Stud. He died in 1947 at the age of 21.|
-- Anne Peters