Gallant Bloom, 1969

Charles Hatton on 1969 champion three-year-old filly Gallant Bloom from the 1970 American Racing Manual.

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The 1969 record compiled by Robert J. Kleberg Jr.’s three-year-old filly Gallant Bloom was one of really challenging, not to say unmitigated perfection. She made eight public appearances and every time planted the brown and white “Running W” of the King Ranch in the disputed territory of the winner’s circle, though the stewards interceded in her behalf in the Delaware Oaks, when Pit Bunny was held to have restricted her.

Wintered at Columbia, S.C., she was intended for the NYRA’s Triple Crown for Fillies series, but the fatal illness of her developer Max Hirsch retarded her conditioning in the spring. She was turned over to Hirsch’s son, “Buddy” Hirsch, on the former’s demise April 3.

There were many tributes to the deceased horseman, and everyone was inexpressibly sad. A. G. Vanderbilt stated the sport’s sentiment gracefully, saying . . . “His humor, charm and attractiveness as a human being equaled his ability. His loss is a personal one to more people in racing than can be counted. The world of racing can ill afford to be diminished by one–when that one is a man of the calibre of Max Hirsch.”

In a melancholy manner of speaking, Gallant Bloom pounded out an eloquent posthumous tribute with her flying heels, as the last of the champions he developed, a series including also Grey Lag, Sarazen, Bold Venture, Assault and Middleground.

Gallant Bloom could compete for none of the Filly triple Crown events, of which Shuvee made a clean sweep. This was hideously bad luck for King Ranch. Later on she debited Shuvee with defeat, also venturing out of her age division to beat older mares, and in the end there was none to question her supremacy. For openers, she won the 6-furlong Liberty Belle at Aqueduct May 28, in a Homeric duel with Clems Fairy Gold the last furious yards. A delicate filly, her races were spaced usually about a month apart, except for three in July.

The Post Deb, Monmouth and Delaware Oaks, Gazelle, Matchmaker and Spinster found her winning by from half a length to 12, and from a mile and 70 yards to a mile and three sixteenths, versus such as Gamely, Process Shot and Hail to Patsy. These were no riff-raff, and we should think that even her sophisticated owner-breeder must sometimes feel tremendously proud of her. She earned the Texan $220,514 in the course of her stainless campaign, after winning the title in her age and sex divisions and a handsome $231,400 at two. It is tempting to say she proved the best filly ever Kleberg owned.

Conceivably, Gallant Bloom also might readily enough have won the ’69 Alabama, except that it was belatedly discovered she was omitted from the nominations owing to a clerical oversight. This was depressing for her connections, but they were less morbid and more philosophical by year’s end, considering it may have been for the best, affording her a month’s sojourn at the Spa, which is a heaven of a place for horses. As you may know, Shuvee won the Alabama with Gallant Bloom absent.

People found it vastly agreeable to look at the eye-filling Shuvee in the paddock, and we wish we might say Gallant Bloom looked the part. But to be relentlessly truthful, she was something of a plain Jane, proving once again that appearances may be deceptive. She did “pick to pieces well,” and her appearance finally became an injunction to bet.

Head Is Boney and Clean Cut

Our heroine is a mousy bay or brown, whose head does not fit her, albeit it is boney and clean cut. But then, she is not the sort of female whose face would go to her head. She is of only moderate size and lacks substance. Also she is a quiet filly, not given to any colorful whimsy, indeed is something of a pet.

Dr. M. A. Gilman, The NYRA’s official veterinary, measured Gallant Bloom in November ’69 as follows:

Height, 15 hands, 3 inches

Point of shoulder to point of shoulder, 16 inches

Girth, 72 inches

Withers to point of shoulder, 27 inches

Elbow to ground, 38 1/2 inches

Point of shoulder to point of hip, 45 inches

Point of hip to point of hip, 26 inches

Point of hip to buttock, 23 inches

Point of hip to point of hock, 39 1/2 inches

Poll to withers, 37 inches

Buttock to ground, 54 inches

Point of shoulder to buttock, 68 inches

Circumference of cannon under knee, 8 inches.

As you see, she is neither a terribly big filly nor yet a runt, and perhaps therein lies something of the secret of her virtuosity, as she is balanced like a see-saw and is always in cadence. Also, she is a filly of wire-hung organization with lean, rather stringy muscularity.

The shoulder might profitably have more angle, the pelvis is rather short and sloping, while her back is relatively long, to be gratuitously hypercritical.

She does have long forearms in relation to the cannons, and fairly long, sloping pasterns, while there is considerable length from hip to hock in proportion to the rest of her sparse format. She is a trifle sickle hocked and we think that we have seen better ankles. She was blistered against a curb and her ankles fired. The hooves are black, excepting the near hind, which has an accompanying white pastern that is her only marking.

Slight Frame Belies Power

There is a protuberance between her eyes which is the seat of the brain pan and a desideratum of her deceased developer in criticizing yearlings. When she is relaxed, Gallant Bloom seems noticeably deficient in muscularity about the gluteus maximus at the bow of the quarters and the flexor pedis perforatus above the hock. One hastens to add they afford momentum enough for one of her slight frame.

For all her gothic construction, never let it be said she has what cynics term a cardiac condition when they mean no heart. Rather, she is all heart and no peel. It is in action she is seen to best advantage, for she is then a thing of air and fire. She has stealthy, syncopated action and is exciting to watch.

Gallant Bloom sports cutaway blinkers and usually is equipped with rundown bandages, her hind pasterns being a trifle low, but she handles beautifully for J. L. Rotz and Braulio Baeza. As an early two-year-old it was feared she was becoming impetuous, or speed crazy, but canny octogenarian Hirsch outsmarted her. This involved thinking like a horse, as every successful trainer knows.

After she had won the Matron from end to end at two, the Texan thought it a shame she did not retail her speed, and set about teaching her to rate, which would build her character, broaden her horizons and enhance her potential earnings. First he allowed the filly her own way, or to think she was getting it, by telling her exercise boys to just sit still and see how far she would go independently. Then he took a chance and worked her behind horses, and was delighted when she proved a quick study, relaxing until given the word.

“You cannot achieve this with all horses,” he commented. “Oftener than not, they change their stride and lose their action or fight the bit, becoming confused and tiring more rapidly than when given their heads.”

Able to Follow Any Pace

Gallant Bloom has the dash to follow any pace and at three customarily reserved her resources for a compelling maneuver through the stretch.

Gallant Bloom argues for those who contend an ounce of blood is worth a pound of bone. She is by the Belmont, Travers and Woodward winner Gallant Man out of Multiflora, by Beau Max, the next dam Flower Bed by Beau Pere and the next that wonderful matriarch Boudoir II by Mahmoud.

Gallant Man has two crosses of Mah Mahal, the dam of Epsom Derby winner Mahmoud. Turf romanticists will be pleased to note Mah Mahal has a dash of Norfolk, the unbeaten heat champion by Lexington, though this is remote. Boudoir II was a little gray mare who exerted a large influence as the ancestress of Majestic Prince, Your Host, Kelso, Bowl of Flowers, Flower Bowl, Graustark and others in the very first class.

First Foal of Multiflora

Gallant Bloom is a first foal and usually mares include their best progeny among their first two.

Multiflora will scarcely ever be cited as an instance of class in the dam, as she could not win in 14 starts and earned a poverty level $995. Here is a case of “the family is stronger than the individual.” That is the great thing about experience in pedigrees; one can find a bromide to convenience him in almost any position he cares to assume.

In Leon Rasmussen’s thoughtful and educated view, Gallant Bloom’s pedigree “reeks of classicism.” Explain her how you like, she is a runner.

She is such a delicate filly, it is doubtful if she will ever emulate our old favorite Paz Zareta, who ran up a total of 76 firsts, a record for one of her sex. Or that she will even try, as her owner is a keen devotee of horse (and cattle) breeding. Only the stallion Kingston and the gelding Tippity Witchet won more races than did “Pansy,” the former taking 89 firsts, the other 78.

Raceland and Badge visited the winner’s circle enclosure 70 times each, the mare Imp and the gelding Leochares 62. Another repeatedly successful racemare was Pearl Jennings, who won 59 races and thus equaled the records of Strathmore and the American-bred Parole, a champion both here and in England.

Nor does it seem likely Gallant Bloom will attempt any histrionics in the field of weight carrying, such as the brilliant little bay sprinting mare Lady Amelia did, winning with imposts up to 154 pounds soon after the turn of the century.

The longest string of consecutive victories in an undefeated career on the turf was put together by the Mitteleuropean mare Kincsem, who won all her 54 races, and incidentally was a granddaughter of the great British mare Bee’swing, who won even more races though she was occasionally beaten. She produced Newminster.

Kingston, who cost a princely $2,200 as a yearling, was a champion sire on conclusion of his long and illustrious racing career. He got the Futurity winners Ballyhoo Bey and Novelty, and in King’s Courier a winner of the 2-mile Doncaster Cup and 2 3/8 miles Jockey Club Stakes. His daughter Admiration beat May Hempstead in a match on Long Island and foaled five winners, including Detective, winner of a Liverpool Cup.

Kingston would try long as he had a leg under him. So will Gallant Bloom.

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