Turkish Trousers, 1971

Charles Hatton on 1971 champion three-year-old filly Turkish Trousers from the 1972 American Racing Manual.


A champion three-year-old filly, though not necessarily a very good one, emerges from each season’s competition. But even the most ungenerous observer should have to consider Mrs. Howard Keck’s Turkish Trousers a good one, as well as acknowledging her the division’s leader after reconnoitering their form.

Campaigning exclusively on the West Coast, as did her illustrious stable companion Ack Ack, and as do most Charley Whittingham’s trainees, Turkish Trousers won nine of 11 starts in 1971, including eight consecutive stakes up to nine furlongs, and earned $189,975.

Actually, she is a product of A. B. “Bull” Hancock’s Claiborne, where the Kecks maintain their stud. Each season, as the charming anecdote goes, Keck gives Mrs. Keck, the fomer Libby Avery of Oklahoma City, her preference of their yearlings. Handomsely qualified to judge feminine pulchritude, Mrs. Keck estimated that if Turkish Trousers were any prettier, she would upset the balance of nature. Thus captivated by the filly’s esthetic appeal, Mrs Keck chose her, and chose wisely as it turns out.

Compared to English Oaks Type

By a certain free association, she has been likened to the English Oaks type. Free association was exercised again in choosing a name for her. As she is by Bagdad, she was given the somewhat insouciant title Turkish Trousers. Her campaign proved her wrinkle-proof by any name.

A candor which has made us the toast of two continents–Antarctica and Atlantis–impels us to to add she is not unlike so many others of her species and sex in that she sometimes behaves without charm, and indeed can be spectacularly waspish. But in competition she is never more formidable than when she seems in imminence of defeat.

Trainer Whittingham advises there is a touch of the reluctant dragon in her nature. She is reminiscent of Buckpasser in that she would make heavy weather of beating a mule, but when her blood is up in an impassioned stretch duel, she is implacable. This can be highly entertaining, in an excruciating way, but it is not recommended for cardiac patients.

Neaither are horses who ingenuously court defeat in their races very comforting for their handlers. But one cannot quarrel with success, even when it is sometimes achieved by the Byronic method of seeming to lose, and Turkish Trousers had the mettle and the will-to-win to match her sense of dramaturgy.

We submit it is not every filly who has the daring to probe through inside or between horses “where angels fear to tread,” boring their own holes in the field, if you please, when they haven’t got time to go around. Matter of fact, an exasperating lot of horses’ sense of self preservation gets the better of their urgency to win in these democratic situations.

String of Stakes Successes

Once she’d got the hang of winning, in the seven-furlong Santa Ynez in late February, Turkish Trousers planted the Keck standard firmly in the disputed territory of the magic circle in an uninterrupted sequence that extended through the Santa Susana, a division of the Senorita, the Railbird, Honemoon, Princess, Hollywood Oaks and Del Mar Oaks.

The Senorita, Honeymoon and Del Mar Oaks were on grass, but the ground was fairly hard, as usually the going is on California courses, and Turkish Trousers could not have been more impartial regarding whether she ran on the loam or grass. As you might imagine, she gave herself a hard way to go at times however, almost invariably “won driving” and enjoyed only one or two easy races.

In each of her last seven sallies, she was odds-on, though the conditions of her engagements frequently imposed top weight on her sturdy withers, as she accrued all the penalties. There are those who estimate, however, that Willie Shoemaker’s presence aboard her was worth five pounds. . . .

Turkish Trousers derives her dusky coat from her sire Bagdad, himself a Hollywood Derby hero. Bagdad was in turn by Double Jay out of a mare by Epsom Derby winner Blue Peter. Double Jay was a champion at two who later won middle distance stakes, though he was always unsound.

Coincidentally, Double Jay also was a tall, racing-like brown, lengthier and somewhat less staggy than Bagdad. These blood donors came by their coloration naturally as descendants of Domino, famed as “The Black Whirlwind.” It is terribly unimportant but Domino was an exceedingly dark liver chestnut, actually, “Just the color of a ripe coffee bean,” Major Algernon Daingerfield observed.

Domino was a product of old fashioned, hard bottomed American stock. But he came with upright pasterns, bowed in both forelegs as a yearling, and had shelly feet. “Still in his ashes slept their wonted fires,” however, and Domino proved a spurred cock, figuring in three epic dead heats.

Domino Saying Doesn’t Hold True

There once was a quaint notion a dash of Domino diluted a horse’s stamina. This is rather exceptionable, remembering Equipoise’s Saratoga Cup, Bolingbroke’s efficacy at cup routes, Market Wise’s stamina, and that Ack Ack’s grandsire Alsab beat Whirlaway going two miles and a quarter. Also that Domino’s son Commando stayed, while his daughter Cap and Bells won the Epsom Oaks from flagfall to finish, by a record ten lengths, the only time she ran in England. Other stayers of the Himyar tribe were Boniface, Spur, Plaudit, King James and Questionnaire.

Generalizing, it was the inbred Dominos who were the non-stayers, and yet one these, High Time, sired Epinard’s conqueror Sarazen. Incest is a degeneracy.

If the advocates of inbreeding mean to say horses 50 years ago were generally stouter than they are today we could not agree more. But it is a question if the old heroes’ blood is not too remote to be influential, in any appreciable degree, except through some very curious atavism.

Turkish Trousers is held by modern pedigree pushers to be inbred to Bahram 4×4, though breeders of experience have never considered this ratio constituted inbreeding. They spend fortunes annually to secure outcrosses and avoid inbreeding, in the hope of improving the breed, rather than reincarnating some ancient ancestor.

Turkish Trousers is out of the Nasrullah mare Nas-Mahal, a non-stayer who was in turn out of the non-stayer Love Game, by Big Game. Love Game was a half-sister to Round Table, as both were foaled by old Knight’s Daughter. This mare was got by the sprinter Sir Cosmo. Looking in on Knight’s Daughter when Bull Hancock imported her, one wondered whatever for, as she appeared rather common. But she comes of Elizabeth II’s noted Feola family and thus embodied some rather strengthening elements, to be invoked through judicious mating.

Going Nine Furlongs Easy for Her

On the whole Turkish Trousers’ is a catch-as-catch-can pedigree, but the stubborn fact is she goes nine furlongs as if just warming to her task.

In the commercialized present, breeding rarely pursues a program of mating involving more than one cross. Thus the horses are produced by divergent theories, not to mention considerations of expedience, geography and economics.

Physically, Turkish Trousers is the predictable result of breeding Bagdad with a Nasrullah mare, which is to say she is fairly tall and bloodlike, an estimated 16 hands at the withers. Her barrel is rounder than deep, thus there is some daylight under her.

The scapula and humerus are warranties of liberal action, and there is a curvaceous development of hind quarters, associated with a splendid pelvis. Her head is aristocratic, the rein length light but elegant. She is less long-backed than most of Double Jay’s scions and obviously sounder than that ancestor. In action, her agility is catlike, and she can come through a knothole in the fence.

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