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Breeders' Cup 2017

Broodmares in the Bluegrass

Havre de Grace & Plum Pretty
Photo: Terri Cage Photography
Grazing upon the green grass of central Kentucky behind miles of fencing is an abundance of horses. Their tails swish and their feet stomp, forcing pests away as their teeth pull the rich bluegrass from the ground. They let out a snort, slowly meandering across the large pasture.

In the spring and early summer, foals romp beside them, exploring the pastures as they take in the sights around them. They spend months alongside their dams before they are weaned, beginning their path to becoming a racehorse. But their dams continue their broodmare career, attempting to leave their mark on the Thoroughbred industry.

But unlike stallions, who can sire more than one hundred foals in a single year, mares produce just one foal each year, if they produce one at all. Thus, it makes it much more difficult for a mare to yield a stakes winner and even harder to produce more than one.

During a recent trip to Kentucky, I had the chance to meet several amazing mares. They each have their own accomplishments, whether it be on the track or as a producer – or both. And they certainly each have their own stories and personalities.

PLUM PRETTY & HAVRE DE GRACE: Both mares found great success on the track, having five grade one victories between them. Trained by Bob Baffert, Plum Pretty carried the purple and tan silks of Peachtree Stable to victory in the Kentucky Oaks (GI) as a three-year-old and the Apple Blossom Handicap (GI) as a four-year-old. Like Plum Pretty, Havre de Grace had a solid three-year-old season, in which she placed in three graded stakes – including the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (GI) and captured one graded stake, forming a rivalry with champion Blind Luck. As a four-year-old, she put together a campaign worthy of receiving the Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year, winning three grade ones – including a win against males in the Woodward Stakes (GI).












Plum Pretty
Photo by Terri Cage 

After their racing careers ended, both mares were prepared to sell in November of 2012. Making history at the Fasig-Tipton November Sale, Havre de Grace was purchased for $10 million – a record price for a broodmare prospect – by Mandy Pope. A day later, at the nearby Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale, Mandy Pope signed a ticket for $4.2 million to obtain Plum Pretty.

Both mares had been spending their time together at Taylor Made Farm prior to the November sales, sharing adjacent paddocks. Now, they share the same paddock at Timber Town Stable near Lexington, Kentucky. Both in foal (Havre de Grace to Tapit, Plum Pretty to Distorted Humor), the mares live happily, grazing on the Kentucky bluegrass as they enjoy retirement.











Havre de Grace (left) and Plum Pretty (right) headed to their paddock
Photo by Terri Cage

The two mares are very friendly, although Havre de Grace can be cantankerous – but she has certainly has earned the right to be. Plum Pretty is “plum sweet” and loves when one rubs her face as she gazes at you with her kind eyes. Although they are now round with pregnancy and no longer fit for racing, both of them are powerfully built, impressive-looking mares that carry themselves with class.











Plum Pretty
Photo by Terri Cage

SERENA’S SONG: Tremendously successful as a racehorse and broodmare, Serena’s Song is among the best female racehorses in the history of Thoroughbred racing. Winner of an astonishing total of eleven grade ones, Serena’s Song was effective against both females and males. Racing against males on seven occasions, Serena’s Song conquered them twice: a 3 ½-length triumph in the Jim Beam Stakes (GII) and a win in the Haskell Invitational Handicap (GI). Her easy win in the Jim Bean even earned her favoritism in the 1995 Kentucky Derby (GI), but she finished sixteenth of nineteen beneath the Twin Spires. Although she lost to males more often than she defeated them, losing against them five times, she only finished out of the money in two of those starts. Seven years after being bestowed the Eclipse Award for Champion Three-Year-Old Filly of 1995, Serena’s Song was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

But could she convert her success as a racehorse into success as a broodmare? It turns out, she could. She started off right, as her first foal, Serena’s Tune, won a pair of stakes races. This was only the beginning of a long, prosperous broodmare career. Her next foal, Sophisticat, sold for $3.4 million as a yearling before being sent to Europe, where she captured the Coronation Stakes (GI) at Royal Ascot. Her third foal, Arbitrate, who missed being a stakes winner by just a nose, ended her career with earnings of $195,390. Serena’s Song’s highest-earning offspring thus far is her fourth foal, Grand Reward – a full brother to Sophisticat who began his career in Europe, placing in many group stakes events there prior to transferring to the United States, where he won the Oaklawn Handicap (GII). Her foal that was born the same year she was inducted into the Hall of Fame did not disappoint, either. Purchased for $2.8 million at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, the colt – named Harlington – raced ten times, winning six of those starts, including the Gulfstream Park Handicap (GII). Her most recent stakes horse is Schramsberg, a graded stakes-winning son of Storm Cat who additionally captured a pair of listed stakes.

Now twenty-one years old, Serena’s Song doesn’t look her age. Her triumphs on the track ended seventeen years ago, but she still has an air about her. Like Havre de Grace, Serena’s Song can have irritable moments, but she can also be very sweet, especially when being fed her favorite treat: peppermints.












Serena's Song
Photo by Terri Cage

WELL DRESSED: Well Dressed only raced eight times, but was relatively successful, winning the American Holly Stakes. But she is best known for being the dam of Well Armed, a two-time grade one winner who captured the world’s richest race – the Dubai World Cup (GI) – in record-breaking fashion. However, Well Armed is not her only noteworthy foal. Well Dressed has also produced the graded stakes-winning Witty, and Helsinki, who placed in three graded stakes, including the Travers Stakes (GI).

Well Dressed is an incredibly amiable mare who loves to have her forehead scratched, especially beneath her fluffy forelock. Having met (and ridden) Well Armed, Well Dressed makes it clear where the Dubai World Cup winner received his looks and kindness. Currently with Well Dressed is her 2013 foal, an impressive-looking full brother to Well Armed. Like his dam and his famous brother, the colt boasts much chrome and one can only hope he can continue his dam’s legacy.
















Well Dressed
Photo by Terri Cage


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Older Comments about Broodmares in the Bluegrass...

I very much enjoyed catching up with these mares! Especially Serena's Song. Are they all at Taylor Made? Thank you for writing this!
  • grandstand · Thank you! No, none of them are at Taylor Made. Both Havre de Grace and Plum Pretty were there before they sold in November. Those two are now at Timber Town Stable. Serena's Song is at Denali Stud and Well Dressed is at WinStar Farm. · 1547 days ago
Thank you for all of your kind words, everyone!
Wonderful!! Looked and seemed very fun!! Thanks for writing this!!
Awesome experience, Mary!
i love hearing about the mares just as much as i do the stallions and geldings after their racetrack glory. thank you
thanks so much this is a goodthing it would be nice to read more about the females life after racing
Very lovely article and gorgeous photos as well! :) Thank you.
grandstand, the mares don't get near enough press. Thanks for the enlightening article, and photos. I have a calendar with a picture of Plum Pretty on one of the months. Beautiful, beautiful filly.
Thank you very much, everyone!
Very nicely written, Mary. I enjoyed this. Just one request. Any close ups of Havre De Grace? No complaints, though. All of your photos are lovely.
  • grandstand · Thank you very much! There are several more photos from my trip, including a couple of Grace, on my blog on BlogSpot (http://pastthegrandstand.blogspot.com/2013/07/bliss-in-bluegrass.html). · 1549 days ago
Do you think it's possible you have Jim Dandy fever?
That reminds me, I bet Havre De Grace's favorite treat now is pie.
Thanks, SSilence.
Jay barely. Not even close to 100%.
SSilence, feelin' better? Did you kick the bug yet?
On a side note- Mary Z- I have photos I took of Havre de Grace from her last race somewhere. When I find them I'll post them for you.
Thanks Mary. Loved it. You are right. Serena's Song looks good for her 21 years. Thank you for sharing
What a fantastic visit ... thanks for sharing, Mary!

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