Of all the great stallions in recent memory, few have lives so rife with history as *Princequillo. After having read his history, we think you will agree that it is no small miracle that he was ever born and if ever a horse can be said to have lifted himself up by his bootstraps - all the way to the stars - it is this one.
*Princequillo's sire, Prince Rose, was purchased as a weanling from the estate of the Earl of Durham by a Dr. H. Coppez. In his new owner's colors, Prince Rose won 16 of 17 starts, his only loss coming when he ran third (as a three year old) in the 1931 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe to Pearl Cap and Amfortas.
Because the colt had accounted for the Belgian Triple Crown, he was greatly beloved by the people of that country, somuchso that he was "nationalized" so that he could never leave. However, World War II soon changed his status, for the Germans were advancing toward Belgium and they had been known to confiscate prized stock.
For his safety, Prince Rose was therefore moved to France, where he was leased by L. L. Lawrence, the Paris representative of MGM. Earlier, Lawrence had acquired *Alibhai for Louis B. Mayer and had also acquired horses for Prince Aly Khan. Lawrence had been intrigued with Prince Rose as a runner and when he found an appropriate mate for the horse, the lease was finalized.
It was in France in 1939, therefore, that Prince Rose covered Lawrence's Prix de Chantilly winner Cosquilla. As soon as she was safely in foal, the mare was transported to Ireland, for France was none too safe from the ravages of war, either.
If Lawrence had not made the fateful decision to move Cosquilla, *Princequillo would almost surely have been lost to American breeding, for less than a year later, Prince Rose's refuge near Paris was taken by the Germans and the stallion was moved to another farm 40 miles distant. It was there that Prince Rose met his untimely death, killed (by all accounts accidentally) by German artillery fire.
*Princequillo had thus evaded his sire's fate, but more journeys were in his future. After Cosquillo gave birth to her handsome bay son, Lawrence decided to send the mare and her newborn to America. In reality, the trip was probably far more dangerous than Ireland was ever going to be.
All the Lawrence horses were loaded aboard a ship to begin the perilous journey across the storm-tossed North Atlantic. There they encountered everything from high seas to German U-boats, but luck was on their side and the horses arrived safely, if very much the worse for wear.
When the horses exited the ship, all were in horrible condition, none more than the little Cosquilla colt. Though the record is not clear to his motivations, it was perhaps *Princequillo's condition that caused Lawrence to sell him to New Orleans businessman Anthony Pelleteri.
*Princequillo debuted on July 23, 1942. Four starts later, with two wins to his credit, he was claimed by the Boone Hall Stable. It was a stroke of fortune, for Boone Hall's trainer was none other than the legendary Horatio Luro.
Under Luro's patient care, *Princequillo, who had once raced for claiming prices as low as $1,500, developed into a great "cup" (stamina) horse. He proved his mettle in a series of races (admittedly while receiving a good bit of weight) from the fine stayer Bolingbroke, whom he defeated in the 1 5/8 mile Saratoga Handicap (10 furlongs) and the Saratoga Cup (1 3/4 mi.). In the last-named marathon, *Princequillo took a full second off the 37-year-old track record, racing the distance in 2:56 3/5.
*Princequillo ran unplaced in his next start, then finished the season in a flourish with a victory in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. The horse struck himself in the Gold Cup and was given the rest of the year off. No year end honors would come to him despite his improvement, for this was the three-year-old season of Count Fleet.
The next year as a four-year-old, *Princequillo continued to improve and won the Questionnaire, Merchants and Citizens Handicap and placed in the Whitney. He completed his career with 33 starts, 12 wins and 12 placings, falling just sort of $100,000 in earnings at $96,550.
During the time *Princequillo had raced at Saratoga, a young Army army officer home on leave named "Bull" Hancock had been attracted to him and decided to purchase him for his father's Ellerslie Stud in Virginia. He began his stud career there at a mere $250.00 fee.
*Princequillo's first crop pretty well told the story - there was champion English colt Prince Simon abroad and champion Hill Prince in America. The horse was moved to Claiborne outside Paris, Ky. and stayed there for the remainder of his life.
His legacy is one of soundness and good temperament and he led the sire list in 1957 and 1958 during his son Round Table's best racing years. He then led the list in money won again in 1959. Three of his sons became Horses of the Year: Round Table, Hill Prince and Dedicate and he got 64 stakes winners in all.
As a broodmare sire, he truly shone and he led that list from 1966-70 and again in 1972 and 1973. Some of his daughters' best produce include Secretariat and Bold Lad and his daughters Somethingroyal and Misty Morn were broodmares of the year.
Both Round Table and Prince John were excellent sires and each sired sons to carry on, but the advent of speedier lines like Bold Ruler and later Northern Dancer, Raise A Native and their like mitigated against the sire line staying strong. So while it is not a dead line -yet - it is a dying one and what a terrible shame that is.
Yet, it is good to note how many good horses are inbred to *Princequillo and since both Secretiart and Seattle Slew, whose names seem unlikely to disappear from the stud book any time soon, pass a line of him along wherever they fall within a pedigree, it would be wrong to say that *Princequillo's influence is dead.
In early 1964 *Princequillo suffered the first of two heart attacks. He was relieved of stud duty, and was doing well when a second heart attack proved fatal. He is buried in the Claiborne cemetery, and a stop at his grave is a step back in time. A time when a sound, solid horse who won at distances was not only loved but revered.
In looking back at *Princequillo, we decided to do something we had never done before, and that was take a long, hard look at his pedigree. We were, of course, always fascinated by his having taken the St. Simon line into the 20th century with dignity. For no matter how many times we hear it, it will never fail to fascinate us that it was said of St. Simon, "Having no faults, he handed none on."
We were, admittedly, a bit nervous about getting into *Princequillo's pedigree because for a long time now, pedigree analysts have claimed that *Princequillo is the ultimate puzzlement. Surprisingly, we did not find this to be so. Instead, we discovered that his pedigree is a study in balance, linebreeding and most of all - history.
For starters, *Princequillo was linebred to St. Simon and his full sister Angelica. He was also sex-balance inbred to both St. Simon and his sire Galopin; to Isonomy and to Bend Or, and sire Prince Rose was sex-balance inbred to Hampton.
Prince Rose also was inbred to the closely related Merry May and Vanish, who trace to the mare Flight (1846). This also creates a sex-balanced cross of Touchstone between the pair, but more interesting it creates a three-way cross of the mare Marpessa. Marpessa is the dam of Pocahontas (1837) who is represented in the Merry May/Vanish cross by her sons Rataplan and Stockwell and by her daughter Boarding School Miss, second dam of Knight of the Garter. Then, St. Simon and Angelica are out of the mare St. Angela, by King Tom, yet another son of Pocahontas.
Further, *Princequillo is linebred to Queen Mary. Bar The Way, third dam of his sire Prince Rose, is 4 x 4 Queen Mary via the half siblings Blinkhoolie and Bonnie Doon. Then, dam Cosquilla has a cross of Breadalbane via Friar's Balsam. Friar's Balsam is the broodmare sire of Minoru, sire of her second dam Mindful.
Breadalbane is a three-quarter brother to Blinkhoolie; both are out of Queen Mary and they are by Pocahontas sons Stockwell and Rataplan respectively.
*Princequillo was also sex-balance inbred to Barcaldine, a Matchem-line horse who was unbeaten in 12 starts in England. The description of him by owner Robert Peck that is written in "Names in Pedigrees" is well-worth repeating:
"When you look over his back and quarters he gave you the idea of carrying any amount of weight without difficulty. In my opinion, the only two horses that ever looked like him were Doncaster when he won the Ascot Cup and the Alexandra Plate at five years old (Peck trained Doncaster) and Verneuil, when he won at Ascot.
"These two horses were, to use a vulgar phrase, as big as bullocks and as hard as nails, with a beautiful bloom on their coats, which shone like satin, worth going a thousand miles to see. No course was too long for them, and no weight too heavy for them to carry."
The account of Barcaldine also notes that he was a big-boned horse, with a cannon which measured 8 3/4". Try and find a cannon like that on a modern horse!
Although Marco was not Barcaldine's best racing son, he was his best sire son. And *Princequillo carries two lines of him along with the two daughters, Primrose Dame and Barrisdale. Americans know Marco as the sire of 1917 Kentucky Derby winner Omar Khayyam, a good sire whose line is now extinct and he (Marco) also got Chef-de-Race Hurry On who in turn got Chef-de-Race Precipitation.
Interestingly enough, one of the most successful Barcaldine-line horses ever was California-based Saros. Of Sarosí 13 most successful offspring, five have lines of *Princequillo, including Kentucky Oaks victress Franís Valentine and her G2-winning full brother Iz A Saros.
The ill-fated Sandpit (BRZ) who died after siring only a few crops seemed to be the lineís great white hope but he did not live long enough to get a son to carry on the male line. And while Sarosí son Iz A Saros sired a couple of stakes winners including $200,000 earner Iz A Bon Bon, no sire bred like he was is ever going to get huge books Ė especially in California.
(Marco was something of a character. Two separate jockeys who rode him described him in the same words as "the pluckiest devil I ever was on", but he became an equine hypochondriac at stud. Once he was kicked by a mare and limped and hung his head until it was feared he had suffered a fracture. Then along came another mare and he pranced right out to her, only to later 'fake' his injury once again.)
So perhaps *Princequillo wasn't quite so big a mystery as some would have us believe. Perhaps he was just too much trouble for anyone to bother with.
But we saw *Princequillo, saw his elegance and nobility. We saw his kind temperament and his lovely way of moving. If anyone had told us this horse ever ran in a claiming race, we would have laughed, for the very air around him seemed to still when he walked from his stall to his paddock.
And we were reminded of St. Simon who had no faults, for *Princequillo had none that were discernable. In fact, if there is any fault where *Princequillo is concerned it is the fault of those humans who were so hot to breed speed that they have allowed this sire line to all but die.
As for us, we never fail to look back in wonder at this horse, whose sire was a World War II casualty and who, as a tiny weanling, came to us over storm-tossed seas and arrived a bedraggled emigrant seeking a fortune he could not understand. But like the human emigrants who came before and after him, he changed the course of history around him and earned a place among Thoroughbred royalty for all time to come. Let us never, ever forget him.
Ellen Parker's *Princequillo story originally appeared in Pedlines #33, August 1998
and has been updated for the website