Over the last week, I’ve been reading Great Breeders and Their Methods: Leslie Combs II and Spendthrift Farm, by Mary Marshall; it’s been sitting on my shelf for about a month as I’ve made my way through other reading, and it’s been interesting reading it now, when discussions of breeding in general, of the bloodlines of Native Dancer specifically, and of the emphasis on breeding over racing have made such headlines.
Leslie Combs in 1966 of Bold Discovery (Bold Ruler – La Dauphine): “’If you’ve got the goods people will pay for them. This was a tremendous colt. We figured with his credentials and bloodlines the youngster had an excellent chance of surpassing the previous (sales record) mark, and he did’” (34).
Combs to Sports Illustrated in 1969: “’Now you can’t walk into places like Darby Dan or Greentree and buy well-bred stock. These people breed to race, not to sell. That leaves you out in the cold. Logic says you should do your buying at Spendthrift’” (36).
“Combs’ decision to syndicate stallions was a brilliant one. Although he did not originate this form of partial ownership, Combs recognized the value of spreading the risk and the investment in an attempt to make a stallion. The repositioning of stallion syndication also helped launch the emphasis of producing a sales product” (38).
“Raise a Native inherited fragile ankles along with record-setting speed from Native Dance, and the tied in tendons of his unsound stakes winning grandsire Case Ace. Raise a Native was forced into retirement after bowing a tendon [following his juvenile season].
Raise a Native…was syndicated…for $2,625,000. Shares in Raise a Native sold like ‘water in the desert’” (87).
Combs, quoting a British writer in his 1968 address to the Thoroughbred Club of America: “’There is little doubt that the really significant improvement in the speed of the Thoroughbred during the last 20 years has been made in the U.S.A. American progress has been built on the twin foundations of persistent buying of the fastest stock, and the strict application of the racecourse test’” (138).
A full review will follow tomorrow.