Straight Deal and La Troienne Postscript

Charles Hatton on 1967 champion handicap female Straight Deal from the 1968 American Racing Manual.

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Straight Deal’s is the sentimental story of the working girl who became a queen. It is a study in depth, for Mrs. Ethel D. Jacobs’ large, masculine, nearly indestructible mare improved with age and was in her prime at five last year.

She made 22 starts, won eight races, finishing second five times and third three times, compiling $302,270 for all her industry.

The Orchid, Bed o’ Roses, Top Flight, Delaware, Vineland and Spinster fell before her sweeping strides. She is versatility itself and ran all the distances from seven furlongs to a mile and a quarter, on the main tracks and the scenic grass surfaces.

Faced Male Opponents Many Times

Her misadventures included several races against the horses. If she could not emulate such as Regret, Busher and Twilight Tear and start a feminist movement, her reputation did not suffer when she was a creditable third to Damascus in the Aqueduct and to Stupendous in the Whitney.

Also, she proved a good mare on a bad track, except that she had some little difficulty accommodating her long stride to surfaces greasy and treacherous on top. She carried 126 pounds successfully, and that reprehensible in-and-outer Prides Profile only just lasted to beat her a neck when she was really loaded, carrying 127 in the Diana.

It is manifest Straight Deal is gifted with the constitution oldtime horsemen call bottom, and that she is intrinsically a wonderfully sound and dutiful racing tool. These virtues are indispensable to setting up her record.

Straight Deal has speed on demand and shows some dash from the gate when this seems prudent, but her best race is from behind and usually that is the way in which Hirsch Jacobs runs her.

We wish we might tell you she looks the part of a queen of the turf. Actually, she makes no particular aesthetic appeal, except to the horseman, who finds beauty in functional and utilitarian lines.

You are not to infer she is odd looking. It is just that she is rather [more] plain than pretty. Pragmatist Hirsch Jacobs will not mind, we are sure, as she is rich and handsome is as handsome does.

Straight Deal’s male line extends back through Hail to Reason to Turn-to to Royal Charger. The last named was an extremely stylish animal. Each succeeding generation was a little less photogenic, but congenitally a little sounder and tougher. This is merely coincidence, as there is no corollary, and you are not to suppose horses having quality are any less durable for it.

Typical Hail to Reason Offspring

Straight Deal is typical of Hail to Reason’s progeny. She is above 16 hands and has the lusterless mousey bay coat of so many of the breed. She is a trifle taller than long and inclined to be angular and light-fleshed at two and three.

Her Gothic architecture begins with a long head, but her eye gives her a good expression, and she is not the least witchy. She has moderate rein length, beautifully laid withers, scapulas and humerus.

Her knees are flat but her ankles might be cleaner.

She has fair girth and depth in her back ribs. There is no hint of delicacy about the flank. Her hind parts, like the articulation in front of the saddle, afford a study in the best approved construction. She has superb length of pelvis with little slope, while the stifle is set on quite low and the hind leg is beautifully straight through the hocks.

The hocks are low and afford her the uncommon leverage seen in her long, facile way of going. She is a good walker and in fine is among the most resourceful looking of her sex, much more the Amazon than the lady of quality. She towered over most of the stallions in the paddock for the Whitney.

Straight Deal wears blinkers, cut back almost to nothing, and she has courage and integrity. Her prevailing mood is blithe and spirited. We have seen her run a number of times without ever having seen her run a jaded race. Always she has finished running on heartily.

Analyzing her pedigree critically, one can readily perceive that nature afforded her several chances to be unsound. She availed herself of none of them. Royal Charger was over at the knees and many of his issue had legs like corkscrews. Turn-to bowed early in his three-year-old form. Hail to Reason had an odd-looking hock, but went wrong in front at two, stepping in a hole at exercise. Straight Deal is out of No Fiddling, and this matron’s sire, King Cole, had blinding speed but never seemed too sound and bowed early.

This somewhat clinical inquiry is undertaken merely to illustrate our point. There is also in Straight Deal’s background a great deal of strength, both of character and construction. Again, she is not inbred.

Jacobs is a stickler for mares of good family and Straight Deal is one of the extraordinary matriarchy descending from La Troienne. Indeed, her second dam is La Troienne’s superb daughter Big Hurry.

Big Hurry was by Col. E. R. Bradley’s Black Toney, a corky little black horse by Peter Pan from the Ben Brush mare Belgravia. The affinity between Ben Brush and Domino was the formula of success achieved in the studs of J. R. Keene, H. P. Whitney, Mrs. Payne Whitney and at Idle Hour. This cross gave such stout performers as Alsab, John P. Grier, Wildair, Sweep—the list goes on and interminably on.

Jacobs made a great many claims in his day, but few turned out better than his investment of $7,500 in Searching’s half-sister, No Fiddling.

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Hatton ends rather abruptly. No Fiddling was the dam of Straight Deal. Her second dam was Big Hurry, and her third dam was La Troienne.

The subject of La Troienne came up recently in conversation. How good was she at her best????, the question was posed. I dimly recalled that I had some numbers on that, which I accordingly dredged up and hereby present.

Foals of 1950-1959 La Troienne as Third or Fourth Dam

Foals                PPI (result)

   275                    5.06 

Foals of 1960-1969 La Troienne as Third or Fourth Dam 

   622                    6.65

Foals of 1970-1974 La Troienne as Fourth Dam

   310                     4.15 

Foals of 1975-1979 La Troienne as Fourth or Fifth Dam 

   834                      2.27

The numbers above refer to North American-bred foals of a specific period. The counts of foals are estimates based on random samples. I surveyed all the possible positions, but in each time period the female line (La Troienne as the third, fourth, or fifth dam) was by far the best position.

For foals of 1950-1959 LT started out at 5.06 (1.00 being average), then actually improved to 6.65 for foals of 1960-1969. LT then declined to 4.15 for foals of 1970-1974 and to 2.27 for foals of 1975-1979.

The only surprise here is the improvement from 1950-1959 to 1960-1969. Many of LT’s best descendants were foals of 1960-1969 (including Straight Deal, Affectionately, Numbered Account, and others). The very best descendant of LT, Buckpasser, was a foal of 1963. Without Buckpasser the PPI (result) for foals of 1960-1969 was 4.73.

Making that adjustment, the numbers decline regularly (as you would expect) from 5.06 to 4.73 to 4.15 to 2.27 from foals of 1950-1959 to foals of 1975-1979. That direction is totally expected. By sales foals of 2003-2007 it had declined to 0.92 for 1,700+ foals.

So once upon a time LT did indeed deserve her lofty reputation for excellence. The sires of the foals in question had something to do with that. Undoubtedly the sires of the foals in question declined in quality over time as well. By sales foals of 2003-2007, however, LT had declined to just a bit below average.

That should not surprise anyone who has the slightest comprehension of how pedigrees actually work (or fail to work after the passage of so much time and so many generations).

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