Tosmah, 1963

“It is rather extraordinary that Almahmoud should be the granddam of both the champion three-year-old colt and filly of 1964. . . . ”

So wrote Charles Hatton in the 1965 American Racing Manual (excerpted last week). Almahmoud was indeed the second dam of both Northern Dancer and Tosmah, the champions at three in 1964. Because of this connection it was decided to take a slight detour and profile Tosmah this week. The following is Hatton’s description of Tosmah from the 1964 American Racing Manual.


“Those old families keep coming back,” Fred Hopkins, developer of Equipoise, frequently finds occasion to say. The late Robert L. Gerry’s “Matriarchy of the American Turf,” c. 1931, notes that of the 1,406 winners of important events deemed worthy of inclusion in this reference, the mares of the First Volume of the Stud Book are the ancestresses of 896, leaving only 510 to all the mares in the 13 volumes since.

“To put it another way these American foundation dams have 386 more winners than all the mares that have come after them combined. Not in their time–in our time,” the editor concludes.

A small but successful family, developed in the Whitney stud, is that stemming from the mare Splendour. Bred to St. Blaise’s son St. Leonards, she had a beautiful chestnut daughter named Dazzling, a two-year-old of 1902. Dazzling was impeded and second to Irish Lad in the Saratoga Special, later was favorite in a large field for the Futurity, though she was not thoroughly fit. She finished third and gaining as Savable nosed out Lord of the Vale. Dazzling made amends at stud. Her granddaughter, Flying Witch, produced Mother Goose and her brother Whichone, both winners of the Futurity.

Produces Crack Two-Year-Old Fillies

Thousands of mares have been imported and thousands of our own have been retired to stud since Dazzling’s day, but her small family still produces crack two-year-old fillies. Mother Goose’s granddaughter, Almahmoud, won the Colleen and foaled the Astarita winner, Cosmah, who in turn was represented by Tosmah, voted the champion of her age and sex in 1963, in the Daily Racing Form and The Morning Telegraph poll.

Cosmah raced for Gene Mori, Garden State Park’s immensely popular president. He bred her to the Derby and Preakness winner Tim Tam and Tosmah is the happy result. Tim Tam is a son of Tom Fool and Two Lea, who is herself very celebrated. Tom Fool is a son of Menow. Tim Tam and Two Lea stayed middle distances, but speed is the patrimony of Menow’s line.

Since Cosmah’s is a family of smart two-year-olds, it will surprise nobody if Tosmah is better at distances up to a mile than beyond eight furlongs. Gifted with blinding speed, Tosmah won seven of eight starts in ’63, failing to stay a mile and a sixteenth, ironically enough, in the important Gardenia, a race originated by Mori, and in which her dam had finished second.

Pharamond II Appears Twice

Theoreticians and abstractionists who impulsively seize on inbreeding as a means of “accentuating the positive” of some ancestor’s quality, will notice that the name of Pharamond II appears twice in the first four removes of Tosmah’s pedigree.

Pharamond II was a trial horse for Fairway before his importation by Chris FitzGerald and H. P. Headley for the stud. He was temperamentally less “hot” than his brother Sickle, but both have been helpful in improving-the-breed. Pharamond II’s son Menow was a better race horse than his sire, and Tom Fool marked an improvement over Menow. Similarly, Sickle’s son Unbreakable, a phlegmatic horse, got a better racer than himself in Polynesian and the latter in turn “outbred himself” in Native Dancer.

Perhaps it is too much to expect Tom Fool and Native Dancer to sire horses who will excel them. Probably it is a ridiculous superstition, but it appears nature “breaks the mould” once arriving at a horse of their calibre or that of Man o’ War, Equipoise and Citation.

W. S. Vosburgh notes “male lines rise and fall like the political dynasties.” They do not breed on generation after generation with the same prepotency of the good female families. England’s General Stud Book is a genetic record extending over two centuries and 20 generations, containing an ordered store of facts such as no scientific body possesses about the hereditary qualities of any other living species. It is noted all but three male lines in the original Stud Book have vanished while the female lines have doubled and tripled. It is a truism “the mare makes the horse.”

Tony Imbesi, who concocts Seven Up, is a keen student of bloodlines, and one who is assembling the nucleus of a stud. He did well to acquire Tosmah from his friend Mori. Not only did she win $121,188 in ’63, she has a certain potential in the breeding paddocks when finally retired.

Flashier than inexhaustible she may be, but she is generosity itself, racing in any going, and she holds her form like a good trouper.

Her Action is That of the Flier

When the Imbesi filly emerged as one of the cleverest of the season’s kindergarteners, it was stated in our column The Judges Stand she ” . . . has the compact mold and overstated quarters which identify the precocious two-year-old and her action is that of the flier. She recalls her dam Cosmah in conformation, and action is related to conformation surely as a horse with a crooked leg is apt to end up with an associated bow.”

Physically, Tosmah looks less polyunsaturated than her long-winded rivals Petite Rouge and Castle Forbes. She is the sort to mature about 15.3 and is curvaceous, a claybank of no pronounced markings, with a short back, broad hips cloven like a sheep’s, and bulges of muscle about the elbow, forearm, gaskin and stifle.

She has a feminine head and eye, pleasing rein length and is smooth at the wither, which is heavily muscled and not too high. Her middle is deep and the ribs well sprung, while there is no tendency toward ragged hips nor light flanks. The angle of the scapula and humerus is such that her forelegs set well under her. She has flat bone with no suggestion of coarseness about the joints, and in fact from the knees down she is as fine as a gazelle. Her pasterns are of the approved length and the hoofs rather more dainty than large and flat.

If one were asked to criticize her, he might understandably begin at the hocks. She has a noticeably sickle-hocked construction behind. This can be a tax on the back, especially in racing over our perfectly flat surfaces. Horsemen in England and France appear to take no notice of sickle hocks. Indeed, George D. Widener supposes these may actually be an asset rather than a liability sprinting over the undulating ground abroad. But there can be little doubt they tire a horse and compromise his distance capacity.

Mr. Fitz prefers horses straight over the knees and hocks, saying “The principle is the same as that in the construction of a fence, in which straight uprights form the best supports.”

Lest Tosmah’s people feel too badly about this it might be added that Questionnaire, Pennant, Hastings, Sweep, Commando and some others of our most illustrious performers were rather doglegged behind. It is simply that the yearling buyer does not go looking for malformed horses, any more than one would buy a new car having a bent axle.

Tosmah’s action is implicit in her conformation. She jumps off like a rabbit breaking cover and scampers along with short nimble strides. She is what horsemen call “a good flexor,” i.e., one that has coordination and supple joints. We would not say Tosmah’s manner of going is too buoyant and high, nor that she expends her energies in too much waste motion. But she is intuitively a runner and puts a great deal of effort into her racing, so that on several occasions she has stopped even though she ran along unmolested on a clear lead.

Boulmetis Fancies She Can Be Rated

Sammy Boulmetis, who always rides her, fancies she can be rated successfully, or did before the Gardenia. This theory will be tested in the 1964 Oaks, all of them at the middle distances.

We suppose it is only natural that racing men who find themselves in possession of a quick filly should make the most of their sheer zip in the two-year-old dashes. Some of them are made quite “speed crazy” in this way. Then at three they are expected to alter their way of going and play the waiting game, which is contrary to their temperaments and everything they have been taught at two. A rare few manage to do this successfully. Only last year we had two examples of the futility of making a stayer of a congenial sprinter in Smart Deb and Affectionately.

Speed supersedes stamina in all too many instances when horses are bred from a mish-mash of sprinting and staying blood in the hope of striking a balance. Moreover, speed has a marked tendency to reduce the distance ratio from generation to generation. It is a degenerate element in that sense.

The lesson in the Stud Books is that “like begets like” and if one wants a Derby horse or Oaks filly he had better forget the two-year-old stakes and breed from middle-distance horses. It is rarely the two factors of precocity and stamina are wrapped up in the same horsehide.


Hatton seemed to have had his doubts about Tosmah’s ability to handle longer distances at age three and beyond. She won ten of 14 starts at age three, with three seconds, and earned $305,283, defeating males in the Arlington Classic and winning up to 1 1/8 miles (defeating older rivals in the Beldame Stakes). Hence she was named both champion three-year-old filly and champion handicap mare in 1964. Tosmah raced through age five and compiled an overall record of 39 starts, 23 wins, six seconds, two thirds, and earnings of $612,588. She was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984.

Hatton wrote about her again after the 1964 season, but his effort was not up to his usual standards. Except for the concluding paragraph:

“If you have the impression Tosmah can be a difficult subject that is correct, but then a racing man can tolerate a good deal of the prima donna in one who can run like that. She is not spoiled, but has whim of iron. Perhaps that is what makes her so hard to beat.”

Tosmah was not the best of broodmares, producing four foals, three runners, two winners, and one very minor stakes winner. Cosmah, her dam, on the other hand, went on to be named 1974 Broodmare of the Year. Cosmah also produced two-time leading sire Halo (by Hail to Reason) and was the second dam of 1974 Kentucky Derby winner Cannonade (as well as many other stakes winners). “Those old families keep coming back.”

Because she is the second dam of both Northern Dancer and Halo, Almahmoud is the one female name most often duplicated in current pedigrees. Hatton remarked on “theoreticians and abstractionists who impulsively seize on inbreeding.” I have presented some statistical analyses of inbreeding to “superior females” such as Almahmoud before and will probably do so again sometime in the intermediate future.

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