May 31st, 2024

The Blame Stakes Honors Claiborne and Dilschneider’s Classic Champion

The Claiborne stallion hails from the farm’s illustrious female family of Rough Shod II

Story by B. Jason Brooks

The fifth running of the Blame Stakes, honoring Claiborne Farm and Adele B. Dilschneider’s homebred champion, will be run on Saturday, June 1st at Churchill Downs. With a purse of $275,000 covering a  mile and an eighth over the dirt, the grade 3 for ages four years and older is a prep race for the historic grade 2 Stephen Foster Stakes on June 29 at Churchill.

Blame

Originally a 1-mile race in its inaugural year in 2020, the Blame Stakes was lengthened by another furlong in 2021 and was upgraded to grade 3 status for the 2023 race. The four winners of the Blame Stakes include: Rupp Racing’s Stonestreet-bred Owendale, by Into Mischief, in 2020; Lawrence Cordes’ Ontario-homebred Mighty Heart, by Dramedy, in 2021; Repole, Phipps and St. Elias Stables’ partnership-owned Phipps-bred Dynamic One, by Union Rags, in 2022; and, Lucky Seven Stables’ St. Simon Place-bred Rattle N Roll, by Connect, in 2023. Recently-retired Dynamic One, who was foaled at and consigned by Claiborne Farm, holds the fastest time at its current distance at 1 minute and 48.54 seconds.

Blame’s Racing Success at Churchill Downs

Blame was the perfect fit to have a namesake race at Churchill, having had great success in significant dirt races there. Trained by Albert Stall, Jr., he earned his first allowance victory there as a 3-year-old in July 2009, winning by a length and a quarter. In November of that year, Churchill was also home to his second career graded stakes victory in the grade 2 Clark Handicap, winning against older horses by a neck over Bob Baffert’s homebred multiple graded stakes winner Misremembered, by Argentinian-bred Candy Ride, as well as Stronach Stables’s Brazilian-bred Einstein, by Spend a Buck, the defending Clark winner and a multiple grade 1 winner in the U.S.

Blame’s first career grade 1 win also come under the Twin Spires in June of his 4-year-old campaign in the Stephen Foster Stakes. He advanced four wide in the far turn before flashing a late burst of speed for a powerful three-quarter length victory.

Blame wins the 2010 G1 Stephen Foster

Finally, Blame’s career was capped off at Churchill with his biggest career victory in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic, swinging four wide into the stretch and drawing clear inside the final furlong to defeat the great mare Zenyatta, by Irish-bred Street Cry, by a head. It was the superstar mare’s only career loss from 20 starts after which she retired. The Classic win solidified Blame as Eclipse Champion Older Horse.

Blame’s sensational career was highlighted by a total of three grade 1 victories. Besides the Stephen Foster and Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill in 2010, he also won the prestigious Whitney Stakes at Saratoga in August, prevailing by a head in front of Edward P. Evans’ homebred three-time grade 1 winner Quality Road, by Elusive Quality.

Blame’s Successful Stallion Career

Blame was retired shortly after his Classic victory with total earnings of more than $4.3 million and returned to Claiborne to stand alongside his sire Arch, by Kris S. Arch was bred by Helen Alexander and Helen Groves and purchased by Seth Hancock for $710,000 from consignor King Ranch Farm at the Keeneland July 1996 yearling sale. Campaigned by Claiborne and Ms. Dilschneider and trained by Frank L. Brothers, Arch went on to become a grade 1 winner with five victories from seven starts.

Arch

As a stallion, Blame ranks among the top sires in the U.S., with 72 percent of his runners becoming winners and producing 21 graded stakes winners. A sire of six grade or group 1 winners, they include: 2023 Coaching Club American Oaks winner Wet Paint; 2020 Arkansas Derby winner Nadal; Claiborne-bred 2018 Santa Margarita Stakes winner Fault; 2018 Ballerina Stakes winner Marley’s Freedom; 2019 Natalma Stakes winner Abscond; and, 2017 Prix de Diane Longines winner Senga, the latter two being Kentucky-breds who won their marquee races internationally in France and Canada, respectively.

Claiborne Family of Rough Shod

By Arch and out of Seeking the Gold mare Liable, Blame hails from an illustrious Claiborne female family, with his first five dams being Claiborne mares. His second through fifth dams were identified as influential reines-de-course mares, or “queens of the turf” by the late pedigree expert Ellen Parker for their lasting impact as broodmares. The reines include granddam Bound, by Canadian-bred Nijinsky II, third dam Special, by Argentinian-bred Forli, fourth dam Thong, by Nantallah, and fifth dam British-bred Rough Shod II, by French-bred Gold Bridge.

Blame in his paddock at Claiborne Farm

The foundation of a great Claiborne family, Rough Shod II was bred and owned in Great Britain by H. S. Cayzer who sold her after her racing career to Ernest Shirley. She then was purchased and imported to the U.S. in 1951 by Claiborne’s Arthur B. “Bull” Hancock, Jr. Rough Shod II was later acquired by Thomas Girdler and, following his death, returned to Claiborne’s broodmare band and produced foals bred in partnership with William Haggin Perry’s The Gamely Corp.

Summing up the importance of Rough Shod II’s contributions as a broodmare, pedigree expert Alan Porter wrote the following in a September 2022 BloodHorse story (here):

“[T]he mating between Nantallah and Dalmary’s daughter Rough Shod II…proved to have historic consequences. The results of that union included Moccasin, who earned a U.S. Horse of the Year title as a 2-year-old filly; Champion 2-Year-Old Colt Ridan; Lt. Stevens, a stakes winner who is broodmare sire of Lear Fan and Alysheba; and Thong, who produced four winners of four major stakes and who is granddam of Nureyev, and third dam of Sadler’s Wells and Fairy King.”

Keeneland Fall 1966, Moccasin, A.B. Hancock, Jr., and Harry Trotsek

Moccasin Branch

Through her daughter Moccasin, Rough Shod II is granddam of Claiborne-bred Apalachee, by Round Table, the 1973 champion juvenile in England and Ireland, and Belted Earl, by Damascus, a 1982 champion in Ireland. Through Moccasin’s daughter Flippers, by Coastal, Rough Shod II is the third dam of Hail Atlantis, by Seattle Slew, winner of the grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks in 1990.

The Moccasin branch is still active and thriving, as evidenced by the following grade 1 and group 1 winners: Irish-bred Lord North, by his native sire Dubawi, winner of the 2020 Prince of Wales Stakes at Ascot and three-time winner of the Dubai Turf at Meydan from 2021 to 2023; Fire at Will, by Declaration of War, winner of the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf; Out for a Spin, by Hard Spun, winner of the 2019 Ashland Stakes; and, Decorated Invader, by Declaration of War, West Point Thoroughbred’s winner of the 2019 Summer Stakes.

Lord North. Credit: Racing Post via Thoroughbred Daily News

Thong Branch

Through her daughter Thong, a full sister of Moccasin, Rough Shod II is the granddam of King Pellinore, by Round Table, winner of the Oak Tree Invitational Stakes and Champions Invitational Handicap, both grade 1s in 1976, and Thatch, by Forli, the 1972 Irish champion juvenile male and 1973 English champion miler.

While Thong’s daughter Special, by Argentinian-bred Forli, was unplaced from one career start, she lived up to her name as a broodmare, producing Claiborne-bred 1977 Irish champion juvenile filly Fairy Bridge, by Bold Reason. Fairy Bridge took the family to a new level, producing three successful full siblings by Canadian sire Northern Dancer. The first two mentioned above by Alan Porter, they include: Sadler’s Wells, the 1984 Irish Two Thousand Guineas winner, French champion miler, and 14-time leading sire in England and Ireland; Fairy King, the 1996 French champion sire; and, Tate Gallery, winner of the 1985 BBA Ireland-Goffs National Stakes, a group 1 in Ireland.

Some of Special’s other grade 1- and group 1-winning descendants include: Irish-bred Wrote, by his native sire Chaparral, winner of the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf; Corinthian, by Pulpit, Centennial Farms’ winner of the 2007 Metropolitan Handicap; Archipenko, by Kingmambo, winner of the 2008 Queen Elizabeth II Cup in Hong Kong; and, Claiborne and Gamely-bred Jade Robbery, by Mr. Prospector, winner of the 1989 Grand Criterium in France.

The family of Thong’s daughter Lisadell, by Argentinian-bred sire Forli, has also continued to produce elite runner, with the most notable grade 1 and group 1 winners including: Irish-bred Sonnyboyliston, by British sire Power, winner of the 2021 Irish St. Ledger; French-bred Talco, by British sire Pivotal, Hronis Racing’s winner of the 2015 Shoemaker Mile Stakes; and, Bachelor Duke, by Miswaki, winner of the 2004 Irish Two Thousand Guineas.

As noted in a recent Claiborne blog story (here), dozens of female families bred by the Hancocks continue to experience success in the U.S. and internationally. Blame’s racing success at Churchill and as a stallion at Claiborne typifies the ongoing legacy of just one of those accomplished families who arrived at Claiborne nearly three-quarters of a century ago.

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