Charles Hatton on 1954 champion three-year-old filly and champion handicap mare Parlo from the 1955 American Racing Manual.


Breeders always have esteemed Oaks winners highly for their intrinsic value as producers. To be sure, a mare does not necessarily have to distinguish herself in these classic events to foal stakes winners. But there are voluminous records to attest that the instance of quality is greater among the produce of Oaks winners. With this in mind, William du Pont hardly can help looking hopefully to the future of Delaware Oaks heroine Parlo as a member of his broodmare band. Parlo was voted the champion, not only of the three-year-old fillies, but of the handicap mares as well in 1954.

Parlo is not merely a homebred, from the stud of the most fastidious breeders of the day—generations of her family have been producing high-class horses for du Pont. Such as Fair Star, who is her third dam, Fairy Chant, Gaffery, Fairy Manhurst and Chevation come readily to mind. The lines goes from strength to strength. The records of matriarchies such as this one, and the families founded by Alcibiades, La Troienne and Myrtlewood, are something to restore skeptical Turfmen’s confidence in the ultimate truth of the saying that “blood will tell.”

The family that stems from Fair Star is notable more for stamina than for two-year-old speed and precocity. Parlo did not scintillate at two, though she did communicate a suggestion of the sort of filly she became at three. In her first season’s activity she made seven starts and, while she won only once, was placed in the Demoiselle.

The Foxcatcher filly emerged at three a serious, sharply improved racing tool, though the transition was not particularly noticeable in her sparse physique. She made ten starts during the season, winning four, finishing second twice and once third, earning $134,490, which brought her total to $151,640.

Parlo began her 1954 campaign rather unobstrusively, running fourth behind Gay Greeting in a six-furlong allowance race at Belmont Park on May 1. Twelve days later she was third back of On Your Own and Jenjay in the Betsy Ross Stakes at Garden State Park. The going was off and the du Pont filly tired on the pace. Similarly, she tired into second place behind Greek Lady in an allowance sprint on June 4 at Delaware Park, which marked her next appearance under her owner’s sapphire blue banner.

Delaware stresses the importance and monetary value of its filly and mare stakes, and Parlo was pointing for the Delaware Oaks and New Castle Handicap there. In the Oaks, she recorded her first major success. This mile and a furlong found her taking the track at the outset, and she gave Open Sesame and O’Alison such stubborn resistance she still was the greater part of a length clear at the finish. Thirteen started, and the race was timed in 1:51 2/5 in the fast going.

In the $100,000 New Castle which followed nine days later, Parlo encountered the “pros,” as the older mares are called, and she retreated to seventh position after breaking forwardly, even though she carried the same 113 required in the Oaks. Moving to Monmouth Park, she finished second to Clear Dawn in the Miss Woodford Stakes, conceding the winner nine pounds and having Evening Out among those behind her. Evening Out repudiated that form in the Monmouth Oaks, when Parlo was “done early,” according to the chart caller, and ran a dismal ninth in a field of 14.

To this point in the season, Parlo’s record had left a good deal to be desired in the matter of consistency. But she now concluded her campaign by winning three straight in authoritative fashion. In succession she took the Alabama at Saratoga, the Beldame at Aqueduct and the Firenze at Jamaica. The pattern was the same in each stakes, with the Foxcatcher homebred flashing to the front in the first furlong and running all her rivals off their feet. Her success in the Beldame was despite 116 pounds, and in the Firenze, decided in the slop, she carried a steadying 125, conceding the runner-up Riverina ten and Spinning Top, who was third, 15 pounds.

The du Pont filly now had concluded her campaign with an impressive flourish of power which elevated her to the top of the handicaps for her sex, measured either by the scale of weights or in actual poundage. When racing at the height of her form, track conditions and distance were immaterial to her, and she ran on cheerfully for any rider assigned her. Arcaro, Guerin, Atkinson, Westrope and Nash all shared in her progress during the season.

Parlo is a charming bit of blood, but her small size is in shocking contrast to the depth of her capacity under colors. Observing her in the paddock, one would be perplexed to identify the source of her ability to carry heavy weights for big distances in the best company. But then she is by the smallish Heliopolis, who is by the diminutive Hyperion. Though the wonderful Stanley House stallion is less than 15.2 at the withers, his resourcefulness and fluent action enabled him to canter to bloodless victories in the Derby and St. Leger, completely dominating the British Turf in his day. He is, like his granddaughter, “all of a piece” as horsemen say: indeed is the prototype of what is described as the “big little horse.”

The season of 1954 was an extraordinarily successful one for Heliopolis, whom the present Lord Derby considers the best racehorse among Hyperion’s sons. He led the sire list and, in addition to Parlo, gave the Turf the three-year-old champion High Gun and the crack two-year-old Summer Tan. He has come a long way for a stallion who attracted only three mares in his first season at stud. His chief claim to even limited fame was the circumstance that he is a brother of the Oaks winner Sun Stream. His attainments may be construed to lend further credence to the theory that the family is stronger than the individual.

Owner du Pont advises that he feels there is a genuine affinity between the blood of Hyperion and the Etoile Filante family through Fair Star. From this nick have come Hampden and Chevation, in addition to the subject of this piece.

Parlo is out of Fairy Palace, a Pilate mare of no use on the racecourse, for, in addition to being rather undersized, she was extremely nervous. “Parlo also was too small at two,” her breeder says, “but she broadened noticeably at three, and her improvement physically may be traced in her 1954 racing record. As she developed, she became more formidable.” Parlo is about 15.2 at the withers, which is a generous calculation. She has never been placed under a standard. But what there is of her is all heart and no peel, and she picks to pieces well. Also she is an attractive chestnut, with a white near pastern in front and a stocking on the off hind leg.

But she has rather a light, straight neck and her ears are set on inelegantly, but her forehead is broad and her expression intelligent and courageous. The scapula is at the correct angle and is well muscled. The back is of medium length, with a slightly arched loin, and unusual length of pelvis. This last is a physical characteristic of a great many of our best performers. Parlo’s quarters are more heavily muscled than those of most stayers, and her hocks are behind her. But she is exceptionally sound, with the flat, closely knit knees of Hyperion’s descendants and well-fluted tendons.

In deference to her slight stature and continued growth, she was not much used during the season, her races being carefully spaced to permit her continued development. She was turned out at her owner’s Virginia farm, not to be campaigned during the winter. It was intended to race her during the Eastern summer season, even though she earned high imposts in the handicaps. Perhaps, like her kinswoman Fairy Chant, she might place two Beldames to her credit before retiring to stud.


Parlo also raced successfully in 1955 and 1956, winning stakes in both seasons. She retired with a record of 34-8-6-3 for earnings of $309,240 (SSI of 41.05).

She did not produce any stakes winners but did become the second dam of 1969 Horse of the Year Arts and Letters. Also the fourth dam of 1998-1999 champion two- and three-year-old filly Silverbulletday. Not to mention the third dam of Waquoit, who won three G1 races and earned $2,225,360.

This is also the female family of a prominent 2013 Kentucky Derby contender. Not through Parlo herself, but it is the same female family. Can anyone name that Derby contender and the connection in the female family??????

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2 Responses to Parlo–1954

  1. Allison Roulston says:

    Normandy Invasion also traces back to Fair Star.

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