AL MUFTI has had a quiet season by his own high standards. Yet the events of the past few weeks have reminded us, you can’t keep a good horse down.
On July Day, his once-raced daughter, GILDED MINARET, came home late to take the Golden Slipper (Gr1), while another juvenile daughter, ALL QUIET, made an impressive debut at Clairwood last week. Both came from mares previously associated with Summerhill.
This weekend, PRINCE ASAD’S win in the Gold Circle Derby (Gr2) added further respectability to AL MUFTI’S already distinguished record, and recalled the mainstay of this sireline, HAIL TO REASON (HTR) who died 30 years ago aged 18. Born in 1958, HTR was the product of a mating between the fragile TURN TO and the rock hard NOTHIRDCHANCE.
Whereas TURN TO managed only 8 starts as a juvenile in 1953 when he shared top weight on the experimental free hcp, NOTHIRDCHANCE spent 6 years on the racetrack, racing a total of 93 times. Don’t interpret the length of her career to mean Nothirdchance was ordinary. On the contrary, she won the prestigious Acorn Stakes as a 3 year old.
Fortunately, HAIL TO REASON inherited a fair measure of his dam’s toughness. His trainer Hirsch Jacobs famously said that “he thought it better to let him wear out than rust away”. HAIL TO REASON was a very big horse standing well over 16 hands with a huge frame, he was big boned and rather course,
Even so, Jacobs opted to start racing him as soon as possible and HTR made his debut at Santa Anita on January 21 of his 2 year old season. By the time he broke the sesamoids in his near fore in September, he had raced 18 times, winning half of his starts. Seven of his victories came in stakes Races, and he headed the 1960 Experimental Hcp by 4lb.
Even though he started his stallion career at 3 and lived to be 18, HTR operated at a time when stallion books were strictly limited. His legacy was a mere 308 foals, of which 43 – or 14% - became Stakes winners. He became one of those rare stallions who sired winners of each of America’s Triple Crown events and he became Champion sire in 1970.
ROBERTO and HALO are the most important stallion sons of HTR. Roberto’s worldwide legacy has been properly secured by the deeds of his excellent sons, RED RANSOM, DYNAFORMER, SILVER HAWK, KRIS S, and in South Africa, AL MUFTI and his hard-hitting son, CAPTAIN AL, while CATALOOCHEE and VICTORY MOON are the new hopefuls. Halo’s longevity rests primarily on the phenomenal SUNDAY SILENCE and his various sons concentrated mainly in Japan, but whose influence is creeping to other domains.
A tribute to HAIL TO REASON written over 20 years ago said that “he became one of the powerful influences for soundness, stamina and class seen in post-war America”. The last 20 years have served only to reinforce that assessment, and it’s quite apparent the attributes of the line well suit South African conditions.