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  • Catherine Riccio

What Makes a Foundation Broodmare?

Updated: Jun 10, 2021

The Importance of a Good Foundation Mare

Kona Kat, a 20 year old mare and her foal by Liaison.

While acquiring some mares to breed to newly retired racehorses, Code West and or Pass The Buck, WestWin farms owner, Bryan Hawk, decided to venture to Kentucky to get some young mares with black type. And of course to be bred in Oklahoma and strengthen the breed.

Paying competitive fees for this project, he picked up 4 solid mares in the November 2018 sale at Keeneland. They were young, in foal with either their first or second foal and were carrying some decent young stallions offspring.

After the first of the year in 2019, Bernie Ryan and her sister Lucille, started foaling out the mares. The babies were by, Midshipman, Munnings, Cupid, New Years Day and Klimt. All nice looking individuals.

The next year, 2020, the mares all were getting ready to be bred back to Code West or Pass The Buck. As he built up his broodmare band, people started offering him mares for small price tags all the time. Some unfortunately, you have to pass on, and others were worth the time to give a chance to.

But really, what makes a great foundation mare?

Toussaud, (El Grand Señor - Image of Reality by In Reality) was one of my favorite mares of all time. She was a stakes winner of over $500,000 on track and was trained by the late Bobby Frankel. Toussaud after retirement, produced consistent foals from 1995 to 2002. Bred and raced by Juddmonte Farms, Toussaud’s first foal was multiple Grade I winner Chester House who was by Mr. Prospector. Also, trained by the late Bobby Frankel, he earned over $1.9 million dollars and the GI Arlington Million was on his list of accomplishments.

The following year, Toussaud produced Honest Lady, who achieved greatness on the track on the west coast. Taking on the boys at times, she was gritty enough to finished second in the GI Metropolitan Mile at Belmont and second also in the GI Breeders Cup Sprint in 2000 behind the great Kona Gold.

She continued to produce foals that hit the ground running, but in 2000, at the age of 13, possibly her best mark in the thoroughbred breeding industry was her colt by Unbridled. That was Empire Maker. Earning over $1,985,580.00, Empire Maker has staked his claim among sire of sires. He stood at Juddmonte Farms in 2004 and some of his offspring were GI Winners Bodemeister and Royal Delta. He also was the sire of Pioneerof The Nile, whose brilliant American Pharaoh was history in the making. Empire Maker was sold to Japan in 2010 and in 2015 he returned to the US to stand at Gainesway Farms. His stud fee in 2016 was $100,000.

And then there was the brilliant daughter of Princequillo, Somethingroyal, who at the age of 18 delivered a chestnut colt to this world in 1970, whose name is Secretariat. Somethingroyal had a total of 19 foals! And lucky 13 was that colt that everyone called "Big Red". . At 25 years old, she gave birth for the final time in her career as a broodmare. She was pensioned and lived till the age of 31 in the close vacinity of Meadow Stable in Virginia. What a career!

Now, I am currently on a farm in Purcell, OK, but there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t glance at one of those foals and think, “Could you be the next one?” Although a farm like Juddmonte Farm, puts in millions of millions of dollars into their organization to achieve perfection, why can’t a new breeding farm in Oklahoma achieve a smaller scale greatness.

As a teenager on the track, I was obsessed with studying pedigrees. Working for Greentree stables at the time, me and my pal a fellow hot walker would take our lunch glancing at the stable’s book with all the broodmares, foals, pensioned mares, etc. We had to follow them old school in books, as the internet came later in life.

So here in Oklahoma, we tend to see the older mares that have had their glory and are going through the sale just to make room for the young mares. As this writer claims to have a life which consists of studying racing and pedigrees, I was glancing at the Heritage Sales Book last year and saw Kona Kat. She was a 1/2 to Champion Kona Gold. She had produced one stakes winner on the West Coast, but nothing lived up to her famous brother’s record. She was a 19 year old mare in foal to Liaison. The boss purchased her for $2,500.

Her foal is beautiful and at 20 she is outrunning everyone in her paddock with a Code West baby in her belly.

Bryan Hawk has a number of horses in training at Remington. I always look up their pedigrees to see where the mares are now and what they have produced. Last week, Drifting West, a son of New Years Day that Mr. Hawk acquired from Gary & Mary West, won an impressive allowance race at Remington Park. That night after the race, I returned to my Norman, OK apartment and started searching for Drifting West’s broodmare, Grand Ladys' whereabouts on the internet. On her pedigree, her best foals were her 4th and 5th foal. She was sold in 2017 for $3,500.00 in foal to Flashback, to K Bar K Enterprises of Colorado. I contacted the farm and Mr. Hawk purchased her to breed to Code West in 2021.

So in the course of my rambling, I still search for the answer to what makes a foundation mare? Size, pedigree, consistent offspring and when do we decide the mare is done with being a producer. At the age of 17, Beyond the Waves’s foal by Giants Causeway, Bricks And Mortar, went on to win Horse of the Year (2019) with earnings over $7,085,665. It was the mares 7th registered foal according to .

So will Kona Kat or Grand Lady, produce another Bricks and Mortar, probably not, but why can’t an older mare have the chance to produce a fine offspring even in their high teens and twenties? I am wanting to know the answer to producing that foundation mare, here in Oklahoma.

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