Saturday, January 12, 2013


BROOMSTICK and his Legacy
 By Catherine Sampson

Broomstick was foaled in 1901.  The smallish bay stallion with smooth lines and a beautiful intelligent head was by Ben Brush out of Imp. Elf,.  He would become a legendary sire garnishing an outstanding record of producing 74% winners; 25% (69) of these stake winners, far exceeding his efforts on the racetrack.

Bred by Colonel Milton Young and purchased by Captain Samuel Brown the following year, Broomstick raced for three seasons.  After winning his first three stakes races at age 2, he was thereafter heavily weighted for his young age.  As a result, it afforded him lesser wins.  During his racing career, the bull dog racer won 14 of his 39 starts winning $74,370.  His major wins included the Juvenile Great American, Expectation Stakes, Brighton, Flying Handicap and Travers Stakes.  He was retired to stud in 1906 at Brown’s Senorita Stud near Lexington, Kentucky.  Brown died later that same year and the estate dispersed the bloodstock.

Broomstick was sold to H. P. Whitney, purchased on the advice of his trainer.  Broomstick joined his son, Whisk Broom II at Whitney Stud.  During his tenure with Whitney, Broomstick traveled between Brookdale and Whitney Stud farm in New Jersey and Kentucky.  He was ranked leading sire in the U.S. for 3 consecutive years (1913-1915) and was Top Ten leading sire 17 times.  Among his greatest notable get were Whisk Broom II and the great filly Regret.

Like his sire, Whisk Broom II was a powerhouse with great tenacity.  Unlike his sire he stood an impressive 16.2 hands.  His golden chestnut colour made him a knock out for looks and his balanced frame provided the athletic prowess. 

As a yearling he was sent to England during the anti-gambling era which played havoc with the financial coffers of racetracks in the U.S.  While there, Whisk Broom II garnished considerable notoriety and success.  That record would be challenged on his return to America at age six.  His first race on U.S. soil would be The Metropolitan.  He would also have to be a quick study learning to run in the opposite direction for which he had been trained overseas.

Carrying 126 pounds, Whisk Broom II was rated at 5 to 8 early odds.  He didn’t disappoint his fans.  He closed 10 lengths to win, much to the adulation of those fans.

At 130 pounds, he captured the Brooklin Handicap, setting a new track record for this race of 2:03 2/5 for 1 ¼ miles. 

As his unrivaled brilliant performance was measured by these two previous races, Whisk Broom II was heavily weighted at 139 pounds for his next challenge just a week later; the Suburban Handicap. 

Through the stretch run, Whisk Broom II accelerated under the whip and bolted away winning by half a length over Lahore.  He did this despite giving a 44 pound advantage to his stablemate and 27 pound to his four rivals.  By the official clock, he had shattered his own personal best, including the American record held by his sire, Broomstick and Olambala of 2:02 and 4/5ths.  He had posted a record 2:00 flat for The Suburban.  Although this time was widely contested, the official time held and was entered into the racing history records. 

Broomstick’s reputation of producing tough, gritty horses with balance and grace can be summed up with one word; Regret.

Foaled in 1912 at Brookdale Farm, Regret would smash the barrier between colts and fillies.  A daughter of Broomstick out of Jersey Lightning by Hamburg, it would 65 years later before a filly would hold the title of Kentucky Derby winner again.  That filly was Genuine Risk.

Regret began her racing career at age two, racing with the boys as well as her own sex.  Twice she defeated the colts carrying 127 pounds.  In her entire racing career, she beat every filly and mare she ran with.  Out of 11 starts, she won 9 times and placed second once.  The only time out of the money was when she raced at five years, after a year sabbatical from the track.  That race was her wake up and only once did she relinquish her crown that season, coming second place in the Brooklyn Handicap. She lost that race by a nose to her stablemate Borrow.  She was retired to the breeding shed at the end of the season, completing a memorable and exciting racing career.

What Regret will be forever remembered, was her victory over the best boys at that time in the 1915 Kentucky Derby.  Who would have thought that a filly would beat the colts, but Regret did and did it in style. 

Carrying a weight allowance of 112 pounds for her sex, Regret captured the lead by half a length as the horses raced by the grandstand for the first time.  Regret steadily increased her margin of lead by 2 lengths ahead of the great colt Pebbles to win the blanket of roses and rewrite history.  This daughter of Broomstick had done what no other had.  The beautiful refined filly with her distinctive white head markings and level top line, took the crown from the boys and handily defeated them.   She was queen that day and reigned over the twin spires of Churchill Downs.

Broomstick’s offspring were determined and sound racers.  Then there was the extraordinary longevity runner, Tippity Witched.  Broomstick’s son raced for 13 seasons in 266 races winning 78 times, coming second 52 times and third 42 times. 

Broomstick went on to sire other greats including three Preakness winners:  Holiday, Broomspun and Bostonian and yet another Kentucky Derby winner named Meridian.   Broomstick died on March 24, 1931 at the old age of 30.  He was laid to rest not far from his son, Whisk Broom II.

They say it is in the genes and although Broomstick himself was a modest runner, his smoldering and hidden genetic profile, passed on greatness to his offspring.  This guaranteed him a place in racing history as a prolific sire.  

One should never judge the athletic ability and heart of a race horse solely on size and breeding.  One of the greatest sires of the 20th century was a small bay horse named Northern Dancer who was passed over at a yearling sale because of his diminutive size.   The rest is history.  The old saying goes, “good things come in small packages”.  That statement couldn’t be truer for Broomstick. 

Next time you hear the thunder of hooves coming down the stretch in search of the invisible wire, remember a little bay horse named Broomstick that sired greatness.  Perhaps the winner might be a descendent. 

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