Valerie Grash
By Valerie Grash, Hello Race Fans Contributing Editor

Growing up, I was a typical tomboy, horse-crazy to the extreme. Aren’t most little girls? At age three, I rode my first pony at the county fair, and all through my youth I haunted the neighboring horse farms in my southwestern Pennsylvania town, eager to muck a stall or groom a horse in exchange for a ride. Addicted to books, I daydreamed of being Alec Ramsey, racing The Black against Cyclone and Sun Raider, or Velvet Brown riding The Pie in the Grand National.

Eventually, I grew up, the daydreaming stopped, and reality set in. Now I am in academia, a tenured university professor teaching art history, a job that I love. Horse racing, however, remains a passion that I never outgrew—just took a break from for nearly 20 years. Growing up in the 1970s, I was spoiled by the likes of Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Affirmed, Alydar, Forego, and Spectacular Bid, as well as Chris Evert, Susan’s Girl, Our Mims, Davona Dale, and Ruffian. As an adult, I consider myself both a fan and a student of the sport, always studying its rich history as well as the intricacies of breeding and pedigrees. However, that doesn’t stop me from occasionally betting on a hunch or a silly name! And I still fall in love with horses nearly every day.

Fillies First
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  • hi who do you consider the greatest sire and mare line in staying races in the world modern and past thanks kevin

  • Hi Kevin,

    When it comes to staying races, it would be hard to ignore the influence of Northern Dancer and his sons Danzig and Sadler’ Wells, especially when crossed with the Mr. Prospector line. This combination has produced one of my current favorite staying sires, Motivator (sire of 2-time Arc winner Treve). The Northern Dancer line is prominently represented not just with Treve, but with every single Arc winner for the past 10 years. You have to go back to 2003’s Dalakhani to find no Northern Dancer present in his first five generations, but before him came the likes of Sadler’s Wells’ Arc-winning sons Montjeu and Carnegie, both outstanding sires in their own right.

    The Northern Dancer line has also dominated the 16-furlong (2-mile) Melbourne Cup, including 3-time victress Makybe Diva, Media Puzzle and Viewed. Down Under, my favorite staying line derives from Sir Tristram and his son Zabeel he two of them have produced six unique Melbourne Cup winners. You can’t go wrong with Zabeel’s going long! Among German sires, I love Monsun his progeny include Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente; Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Shirocco (sire of Brown Panther); 6-time Group/Grade 1 winner Stacelita; 4-time 12-furlong Group 1 victor Novellist; and 5-time Group 1 winner Schiaparelli who won as far as 2-miles.

    Another race that supports these choices is the 20-furlong (2-1/2 miles) Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup Sadler’s Wells sired both 2-time winner Kayf Tara and 4-time winner Yeats. Montjeu’s sons Leading Light and Fame and Glory are recent Gold Cup winners, as was Monsun’s daughter Estimate.


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