Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

May 13, 2014

Pedigree of Derby winners

By Old Uncle Gib
Chronicle correspondent

CROSSVILLE — Many of you probably watched the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby. For some reason, I look forward to watching this race every year. The horse that is chosen as my favorite never wins; this year my horse came in seventh place, which is higher than usual for my pick. This explains why I never gamble.

One thing they kept talking about was how this horse had been so cheap. The owners were chided for their purchase and formed the “Dumbass Partners” DAP, using a buck-toothed mule on the jockey's riding shirt. Lots of people got to see this because California Chrome ran away from everybody else at the end of the race. There was another comment that caught my ear when the owners remarked that their horse had a “fantastic” bloodline. Hum, I wondered, could it be?

Now I'm moving into tricky territory. Horse pedigree. I wanted to know if this Kentucky Derby winner had any ties to the great state of Tennessee. At the end of the War Between the States, former CSA General William G. Harding began building his horse pedigree reputation at Belle Meade Mansion in Nashville. Their most outstanding horse was Iroquois, foaled in 1878. He was the first thoroughbred horse bred in America to win the Epson Derby in Surrey, England. He then won at St. Leger Stakes at Doncaster Racecourse in England. This is tantamount to winning the first two races of our American Triple Crown. Iroquois went on to win an unbelievable sum for this time, $101,613, with 12 wins, four places and three shows.

Checking the pedigree of California Chrome, I noticed Native Dancer, 1950, who won $785,240, and Northern Dancer, 1961, who earned $580,806. Then I found what I was looking for in the list.

Foaled in Great Britain in 1853, Bonnie Scotland came to Belle Meade Mansion in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1872, at the age of 19. Even though he died at Belle Meade in February 1880, he was named the outstanding sire of that year. Here is a short listing of some of the pedigreed horses from his line: Bramble, 1875, earned $32,660; Man-O-War, 1917, earned $249,465; Prince Rose, 1928, earned $59,267; Sea Biscuit, 1933, earned $437,730; War Admiral 1934, earned $273,240; Secretariat, 1970, earned $1,316,808; Seattle Slew, 1974, earned $1,208,726; and Affirmed, 1975, earned $2,393,818.

From 1972 to 1996, winners of the Kentucky Derby, and most of the Triple Crown winners, were in the pedigree of Bonnie Scotland, including Sea Biscuit, Seattle Slew, Affirmed, and Secretariat. Now we can add another notch to that list, because California Chrome, who so far has earned $2,552,650, is also in the pedigree of this great horse, Bonnie Scotland, of Belle Meade Mansion.