Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The 17,000 to 1 Long Shot

There are long shots and then there are long shots. Calumet Farms had likely the longest one imaginable with the colt Iron Liege.  He wasn't the favorite to win the Derby in 1958, but in the fall of 1953 Sports Illustrated approached B.A. and Jimmy Jones, the greatest trainers of the their day and the trainers at Calumet Farms in Lexington, KY with a proposal.  They asked them to pick a brood mare they thought most likely to produce a top race horse.  The magazine would then photograph the horse throughout their career.  It was agreed that Iron Maiden, a young War Admiral mare in foal to the famous stallion Bull Lea, would be the mother.  When the foal dropped the magazine was there.  He was named Iron Liege.

"It was a 17,000 to 1 shot that we had selected a mare who was to drop a Kentucky Derby winner for the cameraman," said trainer Jimmy Jones.  There were 17,000 foals born that year that were registered in 1954.  Ironically, Iron Liege was not the best horse Calumet had that year, he was the third best. General Duke was by far their best Derby bet but he was injured right before the Derby and never raced again.  General Duke was also by Bull Lea.  Second best was Barbizon the 2-year-old champion of 1956.  Barbizon had health troubles of his own and was eventually sold and became a top stallion and raced very little as a 3-year-old.

Bold Ruler, incidentally (the sire of Secretariat) was also racing this year and he was one of the Derby favorites.  Gallant Man was expected to win the Derby.  He ended up coming in second. 

The photo below is not great but there is Iron Liege with his mother and there he is three years later with the Derby roses. 

You can view the video here.  Great story isn't it and just in time for the Breeders' Cup this weekend. 

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