In 1929, an old, barren mare was culled from the broodmare band of a leading French breeder. The mare had not produced a foal for two years, and at 24-years-old, was considered too elderly to justify persevering with. Rather than being allowed to live out her days as a pensioner, the old mare was sent to a slaughterhouse. The breeder who consigned the mare to her final fate was Marcel Boussac, whose stud Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard, near the ancient little of town of Falaise, owed much of its success to the daughters and granddaughters of this mare. The old mare was named Frizette, her influence on Boussac's breeding and racing fortunes, as well as generally in France and the United States, made her one of the most important foundation matrons of the twentieth century.
In addition, the racetrack exploits of many of Frizette's descendants helped pave the way for the repeal of the controversial Jersey Act, instituted in Great Britain in 1913 in reaction to the influx of American horses, many of "dubious" pedigree, into Britain after anti-betting legislation in the United States threatened to cripple American racing and breeding. American horses, many of which traced to sixteen-time leading sire Lexington, whose maternal pedigree was considered untraceable to ancestors in the General Stud Book, were stigmatized as 'half-bred" and barred from inclusion in the English Stud Book. Frizette carried four crosses of Lexington in the first six generations of her pedigree. When her 'half-bred" descendants, Black Tarquin and My Babu, won classic races in Great Britain in the years immediately following the second World War, the strict provisions of the Jersey Act were proven useless; if such horses were excluded from the GSB, the question of its value as a means of recording the pedigrees of racehorses raised serious questions. The best 'pure-bred" Thoroughbreds were being humbled by the descendants of Frizette and other mares considered 'half-bred"--mares such as Armenia (dam of Durbar II) and Sibola (third dam of Nearco).
Frizette began life in 1905, far away from France, in the lush paddocks of James R. Keene's Castleton Stud near Lexington, Kentucky. Though Keene was listed as her breeder of record, the mating which produced her was planned by William Collins Whitney, Keene's rival both on the turf and in business.
Frizette, a bay filly with a broad blaze and white off hind stocking, was by Hamburg from the St. Simon mare Ondulee. Sire Hamburg was a beautifully bred animal, by Belmont Stakes champion Hanover, in turn a son of champion performer Hindoo. Hamburg was out of Lady Reel, a half-sister to the brilliant Domino. With such a pedigree, much was expected of Hamburg on the racetrack. Racing at two for John E. Madden, Hamburg won several stakes with high weights, including the Flash Stakes at Saratoga under 129 pounds, the Electric Stakes under 132 pounds, and the Congress Hall Stakes under 134 pounds. Hamburg's form was such that even James R. Keene, who had raced Domino, professed Hamburg to be a better colt. Certainly, Hamburg was blessed with more stamina, for at three, for new owner Marcus Daly, Hamburg's greatest triumphs came in the 1-5/8 mile Lawrence Realization and the 2-1/4 mile Brighton Cup, winning both races leading from start to finish. Upon the death of Daly in 1901, Hamburg was purchased by William Collins Whitney and sent to serve stud at La Belle Stud near Lexington. One of the mares Whitney sent to visit Hamburg in the breeding shed at La Belle was Ondulee.
Ondulee was a young mare William Collins Whitney acquired in England. Her racetrack form had been nothing to speak of, for she was unplaced in her sole start. Her pedigree, though, was something else, for there were few better bred young mares in England than Ondulee. Bred by Captain Greville, Ondulee was by unbeaten champion and leading sire St. Simon, out of Ornis, by Derby winner and classic sire Bend Or. The latter mare, Ornis, was bred by the first Duke of Westminster, and was out of the Duke's Two Thousand Guineas and Derby heroine Shotover, a daughter of yet another Derby winner in Hermit. Ornis was already the dam of some good winners at the time William Collins Whitney acquired her daughter Ondulee for his stud.
With such a pedigree, Ondulee's lack of racing success was forgiven. Whitney purchased her, in foal to Martagon, and shipped her to Kentucky. After foaling, Ondulee was covered by Hamburg. Whitney died in February, 1904, and that October, at Madison Square Garden, his Thoroughbred holdings were sold at auction. Ondulee, in foal to Hamburg, was knocked down to James R. Keene for the goodly sum of $14000. The next spring, Frizette was foaled at Castleton. Frizette was Ondulee's only foal for Castleton. She was sold to Argentine breeders, and there produced a few more foals, notably the winning colt Zig Zag.
Frizette on the Turf
As a racetrack performer, Frizette was hard-knocking and had some talent, but she was a long way from the best of her generation. She joined the shedrow of trainer James Rowe, Sr., joining the likes of stablemates Colin and Celt. As a juvenile, Frizette captured four of nine starts, among them the Laureate, Rosedale, and Troy Claiming Stakes. In the latter race, Frizette ran for a tag of $2000. She was claimed by J.A. Wernberg, a Brooklyn lawyer, for whom she raced as a three-year-old.
At three, Frizette was kept busy, running 27 times for eight victories. She finished second on six occasions, third a like number of times, and unplaced seven times. Most of her races at three were in claiming races. On September 18, 1908, Frizette finished last in the nine furlong Seabreeze Stakes at Gravesend, New York. She was claimed by Heman B. Duryea, who was one of several horsemen troubled by the condition of New York racing at the time. Anti-betting proponents were gaining support for their agenda, ultimately succeeding when New York tracks were forced to close in 1910 for over two years when anti-betting legislation finally passed.
Frizette in the Breeding Shed
Duryea set up breeding operations in France, the beautiful Haras du Gazon in the Normandy region. Thus, late in 1908, Frizette and several other American mares were shipped across the Atlantic to their new home in France. Before being bred, Frizette was raced by Duryea in France. She proved a winner in her new country. She was retired to be mated in the spring of 1909.
|PRODUCE RECORD OF FRIZETTE |
|Year ||Name ||Stats ||Sire ||Racing (stakes) ||Offspring |
|1910 || Banshee || f. ||Irish Lad ||Classic Winner ||Dam of Durban, Heldifann |
|1911 ||Frizzle || ch.c. ||Biniou ||SW ||Sire |
|1913 || Crimper ||ch. c. ||Maintenon ||Winner ||Sire of SW Ingrid |
|1914 || Tranby ||b. c. ||Irish Lad ||-- |
|1915 || Mary Maud ||ch. c. ||Irish Lad ||SW ||3rd dam of Olympic jumper Sinjon |
|1916 || Frizeur || ch.f. ||Sweeper ||Winner ||Dam of 4 sw, Black Curl, PairbyPair, Crowning Glory, Myrtlewood |
|1917 || Lespredeza || f. ||Durbar II ||Winner ||Dam of 3 winners |
|1918 || Durzetta || f. ||Durbar II ||SW ||Descendants include Djelfa, Oman II |
|1919 || Princess Palatine ||f. ||Prince Palatine ||unraced ||Dam of Valkyr |
|1920 ||Ondulation || f. ||Sweeper ||SW ||Iago; 4th dam Dahlia |
|1921 || Antar || c. ||Durbar ||-- |
|1922 || Frizelle || f. ||Durbar ||Unraced ||2nd Dam of Cillas |
|1924 || Freebar || c. ||Durbar ||-- |
|1927 || Arabesque || f. ||Ramus ||-- |
|The primary stallion in residence at Haras du Gazon was Duryea's Irish Lad. Sired by a full brother to Epsom Derby winner St. Blaise named Candlemas, Irish Lad proved a high class runner for Duryea, taking the Saratoga Special at two, the Brooklyn Handicap, and the Metropolitan Handicap at four. The newly-acquired Frizette was mated to Irish lad and the resultant foal, born in 1910, was a filly named BANSHEE.
Banshee proved an ideal beginning to her dam's career as a broodmare, for her victory in the classic Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (French One Thousand Guineas) made Frizette a classic producer with her first foal. Upon her retirement, Banshee joined her dam at Haras du Gazon. Banshee was mated to Duryea's Epsom Derby winner Durbar II and produced two fillies--Durban and Heldifann--born in 1918 and 1921, respectively.
||Duryea passed away in 1916, leaving his widow to carry on the stud. She did so, but on a reduced scale. Marcel Boussac, a dapper gentleman who had made his fortune in the textile industry, was in the process of building up his own stud, Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard, not far from Haras du Gazon. He reached an agreement with Madame Duryea to purchase the entire Haras du Gazon 1919 yearling crop. This group included Durban, as well as Durzetta, Frizette's own daughter, also by Durbar II. |
Durban was a striking bay filly with the same blazed face of her mother and grandmother. She was high strung, a trait of her St. Simon heritage, her sire Durbar II being a St. Simon grandson. For Boussac, Durban emerged a top class racecourse performer, capturing the Grand Criterium, the Grand Criterium d'Ostende, and the Prix Vermeille. An attempt to win the English One Thousand Guineas proved abortive when the nervous tempered filly failed to perform to her capabilities following her trip from France. Durban placed second in the Prix de la Foret to near relative Durzetta and behind Doniazade and Durzetta in the Prix de Diane.
Retired and installed in the broodmare paddocks at Fresnay-le-Buffard, Durban produced three foals which each gained a mark of distinction--Diademe, Banstar, and Tourbillon. Diademe, a filly by leading French sire Ksar, captured the Prix Penelope and one other stakes race in France and won the Newmarket Oaks, placed second in the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches, and placed third in the Grosser Preis von Baden in Germany. At stud, Diademe became the second dam of Caravelle, winner for Boussac of the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches and the Prix de Diane. Caravelle in turn produced, to the cover of Djebel, the champion colt Cordova. Durban's son by Sunstar, named Banstar, captured the Prix Morny and several other French stakes.
But Durban's finest produce was the Ksar colt Tourbillon, foaled in 1928. On the racecourse, Tourbillon was a winner of the classic Prix du Jockey Club. At stud, he became the pre-eminent sire in Boussac's stud. Tourbillon led the French sire list in 1940, 1942, and 1945, and was placed in the top ten another seven times. He also placed among the top ten sires in Spain three times and in England once. As a broodmare sire, Tourbillon placed in the top ten in France once and Spain four times. Prominent offspring of Tourbillon included major sire Ambiorix, and classic winners Caracalla, Cillas, Coaraze, Djebel, Esmeralda, Gaspillage, Goya II, and Torment.
Heldifann, three years younger than her sister Durban, was foaled in 1921. Like her older sister, Heldifann was purchased by Marcel Boussac, along with Frizelle, a full sister to Durzetta. Heldifann was not quite as highly talented as her sister, but she had tremendous speed, winning three five furlong races at two, including the Pris du Couvert over the highly-regarded Sir Gallahad III. Installed in the broodmare paddocks at Fresnay-le-Buffard alongside her sister, Heldifann's branch of her grandmother Frizette's family bred on longer than that of her elder sister.
Heldifann's daughter Coronis was an example of the type of incestuous inbreeding Boussac liked to experiment with in the mating plans of his horses, for her sire, Tourbillon, was out of Durban, and Heldifann was a full sister to Durban. This cross made Coronis 2x1 to those sisters. Over the years, Boussac bred many closely inbred animals, many of which achieved fame on the racecourse or at stud. Coronis was not particularly talented on the racetrack, but at stud produced four major stakes winners.
Djezima, Heldifann's daughter by Asterus, was foaled in 1933. Djezima was a multiple winner at two, but at stud, proved an exceptional producer, for she became the dam of champion French two-year-old colt Priam; multiple stakes winner and good sire Djeddah; and important producer Tourzima. The latter was another example of Boussac's experimentation in extreme inbreeding, for Tourzima was sired by Tourbillon. This made Tourzima inbred 2x2 to the full sisters Durban and Heldifann. Tourzima won once at two, but was retired due to a highly nervous temperament. At stud, she presented Marcel Boussac with more classic riches, for she became the dam of the Pharis filly Corejada, winner of the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches and Irish Oaks. Corejada in turn became the dam of Ascot Gold Cup winner Macip, Epsom Derby second place finisher Arcor, and Appolonia, heroine of the Grand Criterium, Prix Morny, Poule d'Essai des Pouliches, and Prix de Diane. Over the years, such notable individuals as Licata, Acamas, Akarad, Akiyda, Darshaan, and Sadjiyd have descended from Heldifann's daughter Djezima.
||Frizette was not to have another filly foal for five years after the birth of Banshee. In 1911 came the colt FRIZZLE, a chestnut colt by the French stallion Biniou. Frizzle was a multiple stakes winner. He won the Prix Doncaster and other races in France and the U.S. As a stallion, he was not noteworthy except for siring a few moderate claiming stakes winners. |
|Barren in 1912, Frizette next produced a colt by Maintenon in 1913 named CRIMPER. This son of Frizette was a winner of five races, and he, too, wound up as a stallion in the United States, his best representative being the stakes-winning filly Ingrid. An Irish Lad colt named TRANBY followed in 1914. Crimper, age three, Frizzle, age five, and Tranby, age two were all purchased at the Duryea dispersal of horses in training, held at Belmont Park in May of 1916, and were the three sales-toppers at $3,330, $1,500 and $1,320 respectively. In 1915 came MARY MAUD, a daughter of Irish Lad. Mary Maud was sold as a yearling in 1916 and imported to the United States. She became a stakes winner, capturing the Juvenile Stakes and the Martha Washington Handicap. As a producer, Mary Maud produced nothing of consequence, but did appear as the third dam of the show-jumping gelding Sinjon, a fourth place individual performer at the 1960 Rome Olympic Games and gold medal winner at the 1963 Pan American Games.
In 1916 came another filly, a chestnut daughter of French-bred Sweeper (by Broomstick) named FRIZEUR. This filly was one of the horses Madame Duryea sold in her scaled-down management of her husband's breeding operation. Madame Duryea sold many horses to Marcel Boussac, others found buyers elsewhere. Such was the case with Frizeur. Possessed of only minimal talent as a runner, capturing only two starts, she was eventually acquired by American horseman John E. Madden. Frizeur was shipped to Madden's Hamburg Place nursery on the Winchester Pike outside Lexington, Kentucky, only a few miles from the Castleton acreage where her dam had been foaled.
For Madden, Frizeur produced Black Curl, a stakes-winning filly by Friar Rock. Black Curl was foaled in 1924. During her racing career, Black Curl captured the Test Stakes and the Bay Shore Handicap. As a producer, she became the dam of Black Wave, like her dam a winner of the Test Stakes. Black Wave in turn produced Jet Pilot, winner of the 1947 edition of the Kentucky Derby. Despite getting a stakes winner from Frizeur, Madden was always on the lookout for a good deal, and sold Frizeur to Brownell Combs, who installed her in the broodmare pastures at his Belair Farm, today a part of Juddmonte Farms on the Walnut Hill Pike near Lexington. At Belair, Frizeur became an exceptional foundation mare, producing three stakes winners--Pairbypair, Crowning Glory, and Myrtlewood. It is from this last named offspring of Frizeur that her branch of Frizette's family thrived in America.
Foaled in 1932, Myrtlewood raced three years and earned acclaim as champion handicap mare and champion sprinter. She was famed for her racing battles with the tough mare Clang, but was also good enough to tackle the likes of Discovery, Azucar, and Whopper, which she did in a memorable edition of the Stars and Stripes Handicap, in which she was beaten only two lengths. As a broodmare, Myrtlewood produced three influential daughters, two of which were stakes winners, the three-quarter sisters Miss Dogwood and Durazna. Miss Dogwood was sired by Bull Dog and foaled in 1939. She won fourteen races, including the Kentucky Oaks. Miss Dogwood foaled three stakes winners, the most important of whom was the Count Fleet filly Sequence. This filly in turn became the dam of the stakes-winning Nashua filly Gold Digger, later the dam of Mr. Prospector, one of the most dominant stallions of the late twentieth century.
Myrtlewood's daughter Durazna, by Bull Dog's son Bull Lea, was foaled in 1941. Durazna raced for three seasons, starting nineteen times for nine victories. She was voted the outstanding juvenile filly of 1943, but has been chiefly remembered for her battles with the champion filly Busher, defeating that daughter of War Admiral in the Beverly Handicap at Chicago's Washington Park in the summer of 1944 and then finishing less than a length behind Busher in their celebrated match race less than two weeks later. Durazna was not a successful producer, coming up with four winners. But she did found a branch of Frizette's family which in succeeding generations included champion fillies Typecast, Tudor Queen, Ajina, Irish champion filly Highest Trump ( the second dam of English champion colt Bahri), as well as major American stakes winner April Dawn.
The third influential daughter of Myrtlewood was her first-born, the Equipoise filly Crepe Myrtle. A modest winner, Crepe Myrtle foaled the champion filly Myrtle Charm. This female line continued with Fair Charmer, her daughter My Charmer, and her offspring, which included English Two Thousand Guineas winner Lomond and the champion American Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, later a leading sire and leading sire of broodmares.
Myrtlewood, the champion granddaughter of Frizette, died at Spendthrift Farm in 1950 after foaling a War Admiral colt. Such was the esteem in which she was held, farm owner Leslie Combs II was with Myrtlewood, trying to assist the mare during the difficult foaling, and was still at her side when she died a short while later. She was laid to rest next to her dam Frizeur at Spendthrift Farm. Frizeur's name appears as ancestress of two more high class individuals--multiple stakes winner Flag Raiser and champion sprinter Shecky Greene--through two other of her daughters, Bluelarks and Janet Blair, respectively.
Frizeur proved to be one of the few daughters of Frizette Marcel Boussac let slip through his fingers. He did acquire her filly born in 1917, a daughter of Durbar II named LESPEDEZA. This filly was only a moderate performer on the racetrack, winning but three races. She was a decent, though not high class broodmare, producing three winners including the jumping stakes winner Sardaneza. This was not enough to warrant keeping her in the Boussac broodmare band, and Lespedeza was dispatched to the 1930 Newmarket December Sale, along with five other Boussac culls, among them a winless daughter of Teddy named La Troienne. Catalogued back to back in the catalogue, both Lespedeza and La Troienne were acquired by Dick Thompson acting on behalf of American breeder Col. Edward Riley Bradley. La Troienne went on to become one of the most influential broodmares in the history of the breed. Lespedeza proved far less successful, producing only some modest winners before her death in the early 1940s.
In 1918, Frizette produced another Durbar II filly, this being the aforementioned DURZETTA. She was purchased by Boussac in a package deal which also included Durban. Durzetta proved a very high class member of the Boussac racing stable, capturing the Prix Morny, the Prix de la Foret (at the expense of stablemate and near relative Durban), the Prix des Reves D'Or, and finishing second in the classic Prix de Diane, where she once more beat Durban to the finish.
As a member of the broodmare ranks at Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard, Durzetta proved disappointing, for she did not have many foals. Two of her daughters failed to win but were kept by Marcel Boussac, the half-sisters Sunzetta and Galicienne. Descendants of these two granddaughters of Frizette included the major winners Djelfa, Golestan, Norval, Spartana, and Oman II, the latter going on to make a name for himself as a prominent sire of broodmares in New Zealand.
Shortly after the birth of Durzetta, Frizette was sent to a stallion not standing at Haras du Gazon. The English champion Prince Palatine had recently arrived for stud duty in France, and Frizette was sent to visit him. The resulting offspring, born in 1918, was a filly, named appropriately enough PRINCESS PALATINE. This filly never raced, and she wound up, like her elder half-sister Frizeur, being sold to American interests. Princess Palatine was bred to the best American stallions of the day, including Black Toney and Man o' War. Her best offspring proved to be her filly by Man o' War, a tall, statuesque chestnut named Valkyr. Though she never won a stakes, Valkyr was competitive, running second to Nixie in the 1928 Alabama Stakes and third to Man o' War's daughter Bateau in the Coaching Club American Oaks.
Valkyr turned out to be an outstanding producer. With a Flying Ebony colt at foot, she was sold at the dispersal of Gifford A. Cochrane's estate to William Woodward. She was carrying a full sibling to the Flying Ebony colt. These two offspring became the stakes winners Vicar and Vicaress, respectively. Another daughter of Valkyr named Bellicose, sired by imported Boswell, became second dam of the good stakes-winning filly Sarcastic, who in turn became the dam of champion colt Vitriolic.
After acquiring Valkyr, Woodward bred two exceptional fillies from her: Coaching Club American Oaks and Alabama Stakes heroine Hypnotic and her elder half-sister Vagrancy. Vagrancy earned laurels as champion three-year-old filly and champion handicap mare in 1942 by virtue of victories in the Coaching Club American Oaks, Pimlico Oaks, Delaware Oaks, Ladies Handicap, and Beldame Stakes. The same season her "cousin" Miss Dogwood won the Kentucky Oaks, Vagrancy and Miss Dogwood each claiming Frizette as their third dam. Vagrancy's career at stud was no less remarkable then her racing career had been, for she produced stakes winners Hyvania, Vulcania, and Black Tarquin, winner in England of the 1948 St. Leger. This last named victory, coupled with the victory the same season of My Babu (a grandson of Tourbillon) in the Two Thousand Guineas, highlighted the senseless restrictions of the Jersey Act, which excluded horses whose pedigrees had a "stain," often back more than ten generations, and contributed to the recission the following year of the Jersey Act, which had barred horses with so-called American flaws in their pedigrees from the English registry.
Two of Vagrancy's tail-female descendants were awarded the Kentucky Broodmare of the Year honors: Banja Luka, in 1987, the dam of Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand, who, like his ancestress, Frizette, once his usefulness at stud was considered at an end, was sent to a slaughterhouse. The other was Natasha's stakes-winning daughter Natashka, dam of five stakes winners, who was champion broodmare in 1981. Irish St. Leger champion Dark Lomond, American juvenile champion Anees, and the stallion Elusive Quality descend from Natashka.
The Remainder of Frizette's Offspring
In 1920, Frizette foaled a full sister to Frizeur, a filly by Sweeper named ONDULATION. Unlike her elder sister, Ondulation possessed a higher level of class on the racetrack accounting for the Prix de la Nonette. At stud, first in France and then in the United States, she produced fifteen foals, six of whom were winners. Her best was Iago, a stakes winner in Belgium. It is through her daughter Gilded Wave, sired by American Triple Crown champion Gallant Fox and foaled in 1938, that Ondulation's name lives on, for Gilded Wave became the third dam of the spectacular European champion racemare Dahlia, a winner in five countries, Horse of the Year in England twice, and champion grass horse in the United States.
In 1921, Frizette's best producing years were behind her. After Ondulation, she never again produced a stakes winner. Her foal of 1921 was a colt by Durbar named ANTAR who gained no distinction either on the track or at stud. The following year Frizette produced another Durbar offspring, a filly named FRIZELLE.
Frizelle was purchased by Marcel Boussac. She never raced, but she made an important contribution to Boussac's racing and breeding operation through her Craig An Eran filly Orlanda. A minor winner at three, Orlanda produced for Boussac the Prix du Jockey Club winner Cillas. Again, employing inbreeding, Cillas was sired by Tourbillon, making the colt inbred 4x3 to Frizette. A full sister to Cillas, named Arriba, produced another Prix du Jockey Club champion for Boussac named Auriban. A half-brother to Cillas and Arriba, a Goya II colt named Darial, proved a good stakes winner in France and later a decent sire in Sweden.
Barren in 1923, Frizette produced the unheralded colt FREEBAR in 1924, and then was barren for the next two years. In 1926, Madame Duryea sold the Haras du Gazon and the remaining horses, including 21-year-old Frizette, to Marcel Boussac. For Boussac, Frizette produced only one foal, a filly by Ramus named ARABESQUE, foaled in 1927. Arabesque proved to be Frizette's final offspring, and she accomplished nothing to make her name noteworthy.
Frizette proved barren in 1928 and 1929. Shortly thereafter, Boussac deemed the 24-year-old Frizette useless for further breeding attempts and sent her to be slaughtered. It was a sad ending to the life of an extraordinary producer. From fourteen named foals, Frizette became the dam of eight winners, five of which captured stakes. Boussac campaigned four winners of the Prix du Jockey Club who were directly descended from Frizette in the female line, as well as three winners of the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches, two winners of the Prix de Diane, one winner of the Irish Oaks, and two French two-year-old champions. It was not for her record as a racetrack performer that Frizette was honored with a Grade I race for juvenile fillies run every autumn at Belmont Park, but rather for her exemplary status as one of the most influential foundation mares of the twentieth century.
-- Liz Martiniak