History will congratulate Fred W. Hooper’s Susan’s Girl as a genuinely good filly, surely as there was one upon whom to confer this appellation among the 1972 three-year-olds.
Inevitably, each succeeding generation is compared with previous crops, though time often distorts the frame of reference. General merits appears refracted through the form of Susan’s Girl and her contemporaries Summer Guest, Numbered Account, Light Hearted and Barely Even.
One ventures to think well of her generation, though there is no wish here to impose our opinions on others, who may think whatever makes them comfortable.
Comparing the class of ’72 with that of ’21 for example, graced by Princess Doreen and Nellie Morse, would be to indulge veteran turfgoers in a pleasant retrospectif, perhaps. But in the final analysis, the question remains relentlessly academic, rather specious and a matter of personal taste.
Champion Mares Beat Males
When Delaware Park announced the controversial results of its poll to identify the Ten Best Racemares of All Time, it was noted that Gallorette, Twilight Tear, Regret, Top Flight, Miss Woodford, Busher, Beldame, Princess Doreen, Bewitch and Imp had won competing with males. And the premise was advanced:
“In order to be great, in horsemen’s opinions, a mare must have raced successfully in open competition, free from the concessions ordinarily given her sex.”
It was noted Gallorette beat horses 13 times, Twilight Tear and Regret seven times, while such as Imp, Miss Woodford and Beldame rarely had opportunity of competing with those of their own sex.
Not to sound negative, but one wonders how, conceivably, those employing this yardstick could rule out Diomed’s unbeaten daughter Hanie’s Maria, whom Andrew Jackson said he would rather beat than be President. Rather debonair also was the dismissal Boston’s conqueror Fashion. And unbeaten Selima, ancestress of Hanover, not to mention Peytona, Ariel and a host of others.
It would be nice to add that Susan Girl’s qualifications included victories over the colts. But this is needless in the present day, and if none of her 13 1972 starts was against the males, all were in stakes, in which she brought in conclusive evidence of her right to the three-year-old filly honors.
Six Consecutive Stakes Wins
Our present subject began her campaign with a skein of six consecutive stakes conquests, including the Santa Susana, Kentucky Oaks and Acorn. Her edge had been blunted in this tour de force, however. At the same time, competition was keener in midsummer, and her form lapsed temporarily. She was beaten pictures in the Mother Goose and Princess, and was third in the CCA and Hollywood Oaks.
After being in constant training 18 months, the Hooper filly was administered a ball and freshened at Saratoga during August, returning better than ever in the autumn to climax her campaign with telling victories in the Gazelle and especially in the nine-furlong, w-f-a Beldame. This last really set a seal.
She won from seven to nine furlongs, carried her weight, raced on six courses in all weather, ran a smashing second on first acquaintance with turf competition in the Princess, and her campaign involved two round trips between coasts.
If she did not “beat the horses,” we submit she might have beaten more of them than beat her, and following the Kentucky Oaks on Derby eve some conjectured owner Hooper “ran her in the wrong race.”
Riva Ridge buffs thought this giant, double-flowering nonsense. But she won $352,677 against fillies, unwound sound after the climactic Beldame and forfeited the Spinster to Numbered Account, whom she had beaten along with Summer Guest in the Belmont race.
The ramifying roster of filly stakes have come to have an institutional value to the allied racing and bloodstock industries. But they have not been an unmitigated blessing.
Many horsemen construe them as an invitation to continue mares in training at $25 per diem and ten percent long after establishing their worth, when they would be better suited physiologically to enter production, rather than compromising their futures at stud.
Great Distaffers Not Overraced
Sr. Tesio held a filly has just so much vitality in her, and that if she expended too much in racing, she had little left to transmit. H. P. Whitney bred a record 189 stakes winners. His trainer, Jimmy Rowe, adopted a policy of retiring potential producers of class to be bred at four, indeed quit the Dwyer Brothers when they insisted on overracing Miss Woodford.
Unbelievable as it may strike the money grubbers, Whitney and Rowe raced Regret, who was capoable of winning a Hopeful and Kentucky Derby, only 11 times in four years, in deference to her delicate constitution.
Of the 164 leading money-winning fillies who produced foals, exactly half raced 50 or more times. Their breeding records are well above average, but do not compare at all favorably with those of the 82 leading money-winning mares who ran fewer than 50 times.
Thus, in a sense, it is a question if the surfeit of filly-and-mare races has not tended to defeat its own purpose in the instances of most mares. Again, the vast sums to be won in these races have deprived the sport of the color and sentimental appeal of seeing aspiring Regrets and Pan Zaretas throw down the gauge to the horses.
Fillies now are rarely seen in our classics, owing to the bird-in-the-hand policy.
Forgive our morbidity, but the overracing of mares is just one of the little debaucheries enforced by the tragic necessity to declare the revenuers uninvested partners in the sport.
Returning to Susan’s Girl, it ought to be noted that if she met no horses, she avoided no man’s filly or mare, indeed seemed bent upon “looking for trouble.”
The Beldame, her crowning achievement, assembled the best of her sex from both coasts and Canada, and the race was most convincing, reinforcing the broad claims staked out for her.
The surface was wet-fast, owing to a vile break in weather, which found a miniature hurricane breaking over the park as the field was in the paddock.
Tracks Pacemaker Patiently
Diana victor Blessing Angelica impetuously set out to win from end to end, with Suan’s Girl tracking her patiently, Chou Croute and Typecast close by and Summer Guest improving on the outside. Coming to the quarter pole, it was anybody’s race, with Typecast, Numbered Account, Chou Croute, Susan’s Girl and Summer Guest swarming past Blessing Angelica in a phalanx.
The crowd gave a splendid groan when Numbered Account and Typecast suddenly stopped leaving the quarter pole. In midstretch, it had evolved into a duel between Susan’s Girl and Chou Croute, who fought back bravely. No sooner did Susan’s Girl get the better of Chou Croute than Summer Guest challenged hard on the outside leaving the furlong mark.
Seventy yards out, Susan’s Girl stumbled, recovered quickly, and Summer Guest began to hang and was beaten a decisive length.
The Beldame field presented an absorbing study in contrasting types, ranging from the short-coupled little sprinter Chou Croute to the lean greyhound conformation of Summer Guest; the hard, medium-sized Typecast and the smoothly classical Numbered Account.
Susan’s Girl was the most muscular, a strikingly handsome exposition of the middle distance type. She is a cherry bay, just above 16 hands, came equipped with a broad loin, massive quarters, four white feet and a sincere blaze.
Her high character is seen in her large, mild eye and sociable manner. Many fillies get a bit flaky about shipping, even in this air age, but her integrated disposition found her trouping like an old gelding. She stabled in the most remote barn at Belmont, and many would flip just walking from these accommodations to the paddock, but she never turned a hair.
She is in no way common, as we say on shed row.
Speed is her forte, as in the instances of most Hooper horses. She has tremendous verve, at the same time is amenable to rating. She is just the sort to prompt the pace, then finish running only just as fast as necessary.
Some of her races were exceedingly fast, and she set stakes records running six furlongs in 1:08 3/5 and seven in 1:21 4/5 at Santa Anita, additionally ran a mile in 1:34 3/5 in the Acorn.
One is not surprised to hear from John Russell, the personable young Briton who conditions her, that Susan’s Girl “never leaves an oat.” A prima donna of the sort who has a map of the racetrack for a nervous system would never have endured her campaign.
Queen’s Personal Statistics
Dr. M. A. Gilman measured Susan’s Girl in September, 1972, and supplies the following statistics:
Height, 16 hands, 1/2 inch
Point of shoulder to point of shoulder, 16 1/2 inches
Girth, 74 1/4 inches
Withers to point of shoulder, 28 inches
Elbow to ground, 37 1/4 inches
Point of shoulder to point of hip, 48 1/2 inches
Point of hip to point of hip, 25 inches
Point of hip to hock, 41 1/2 inches
Point of hip to buttock, 24 inches
Poll to withers, 38 inches
Buttock to ground, 54 3/4 inches
Point of shoulder to buttock, 69 inches
Circumference of cannon under knee, 8 1/4 inches
Height at rump, 16 hands, 1/4 inch
Weight, 1,150 pounds.
Susan’s Girl is remarkably well balanced, as you see, especially for rather a large member of her age and sex in training. She seduces the horseman’s eye and one is inevitably drawn to her when she appears among a racetrack full of horses mornings. She moves fluently at all the paces, and her extended action is long and low.
She has a grand shoulder, with the scapula at the correct angle and not too deep, allowing for a lengthy and reasonably upright humerus. The elbow is free, the forearms a trifle longer than the cannons, the pasterns at the approved 45 degrees and of fair length.
The knees look terribly coarse and open rather than closely knit. But Susan’s Girl’s familiars assert they have never given serious concern, though she is sometimes stood in knee bandages “as a precautionary measure.”
She has a round, deep barrel, very little flank, broad loins, a smooth wither, tail set on high, the pelvis of splendid length and only slightly sloping, while the stifles are well dropped and muscular.
One has seen straighter hind legs, though she is by no means sickle hocked. Of course, her hooves are white, but the coronets are good. Susan’s Girl has something the size and bizarre coloration of her sire Quadrangle, a less closely knit specimen, however. The Belmont winner has sired others of this general stamp. Breeders consider this a good omen in a young progenitor. Beware those who do not breed true to type.
If our subject is not bred along “fashionable” lines, she is by way of making them more popular. Perhaps it is with bloodlines as Tod Sloan said of horses in training: “There may be a Galtee-More every year. He only needs to be found out.”
By Cohoes Out of a Bull Lea Mare
Quadrangle is by the Mahmoud horse Cohoes out of the Bull Lea mare Tap Day. His second dam, Scurry, and third, Slapdash, were speedy fillies.
Susan’s Girl is out of Quaze, who is proving better than anyone had a right to expect. She is by the Meadow horse Quibu, whom Hooper imported from the Argentine, where he won four stakes, in some abortive scheme to beat Armed.
Quaze was second in a Kentucky Oaks and all her foals to have raced won, including the stakes winner Steel Pike, by Nadir, if you please. Quaze’s dam was Heavenly Sun by the Heliopolis horse Olympia, a spectacularly fast horse of a few years back.
The third dam was Daffy, by that diminutive handicapper and brilliant mudder The Porter, a contemporary of Exterminator, Mad Hatter, Gnome and Sir Barton.
The fourth dam, Lady Pike, was a daughter of Sir Barton, first winner of the American Triple Crown. Sir Barton had the standard Star Shoot feet, but the unflagging courage to win in the face of adversity. He was put down as a miserable failure at stud, but got a grand mare in the Kentucky Oaks winner Easter Stockings. Willie Crump, who rode both, considered her better actually than Princess Doreen.
Like Colin of old, Sir Barton stood “too far from the forks of Elkhorn,” in Virginia, thus his opportunities were somewhat limited.
Susan’s Girl may not be, like Cleopatra, a flower that Alexandria had taken 2,000 years to produce and that an eternity cannot wither. But if the object is to improve the breed, she is Exhibit A of 1972.