By Sid Fernando
Stuart S. Janney III’s homebred Graded winner Ironicus enters stud at Claiborne under the auspices of young Walker Hancock, but he has a family that’s one of the oldest — and most influential — in the Stud Book. This family has been molded by some of the most distinguished owners and breeders in N. America, too, and it has deep links to Claiborne.
— Brenna Cahill (@BooBooBren) November 30, 2016
MG2SW Ironicus, entering stud at Claiborne next year, is built in the mold of his sire Distorted Humor. pic.twitter.com/hMYSVeqkwu
— Frances J Karon (@francesjkaron) December 8, 2016
On face value, Ironicus has an appealing commercial pedigree: he’s by Distorted Humor from Meghan’s Joy, by A.P. Indy. Beneath that, however, Ironicus is a tale-female descendant of the great imported broodmare La Troienne, his eighth dam and the ancestress of some of the best horses raised at Claiborne, including Buckpasser, Numbered Account, Relaxing, and Easy Goer. Janney’s uncle Ogden Phipps — the breeder of the quartet named above — purchased La Troienne’s daughter Big Hurry from Col. E.R. Bradley’s Idle Hour Stock Farm while Bradley was still alive, and the Big Hurry branch of La Troienne is also responsible for Relaxing and Easy Goer. Phipps, of course, purchased others from La Troienne’s family on Bradley’s death, and Buckpasser descends to La Troienne’s daughter Businesslike, while Numbered Account traces to the blue hen through Baby League, who is the eighth dam of Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver. The Super Saver line of descent to La Troienne was fashioned entirely by the Phipps family.
Here’s the La Troienne line of descent to Ironicus:
La Troienne (Teddy)/Big Hurry (Black Toney)/Searching (War Admiral)/Admiring (Hail to Reason)/Glowing Tribute (Graustark)/Wild Applause (Northern Dancer)/Queen’s Wild (Spectacular Bid)/Meghan’s Joy (A.P. Indy)
La Troienne was bred by Marcel Boussac and Big Hurry was bred by Bradley’s Idle Hour Stock Farm. Phipps bred Searching.
Ironicus’s female line didn’t stay continuously with the Phipps family as Super Saver’s had. Big Hurry’s daughter Searching, a War Admiral filly, wasn’t up to snuff for Phipps. He sold her to Hirsch Jacobs and Isidor Bieber for a reported $15,000 as a 3-year-old, and Jacobs, as he’d done with the $1,500 claim Stymie, turned Searching around and into a stakes winner. And then Bieber-Jacobs made her an outstanding broodmare. Ironically, one of Searching’s daughters, Priceless Gem, beat Phipps’s best horse, Buckpasser, in the Futurity Stakes in 1965 at Aqueduct. Priceless Gem would later produce the outstanding Wildenstein filly Allez France, an Arc winner.
Priceless Gem was by the Bieber-Jacobs stallion Hail to Reason, and so was her stakes-winner sister Admiring, who sold at the 1966 Bieber-Jacobs reduction sale for a record price of $310,000 to the partnership of Paul Mellon’s Rokeby and Charles Engelhard’s Cragwood Estates.
— Frances J Karon (@francesjkaron) December 28, 2016
Mellon and Engelhard, who bred Admiring’s first few foals in partnership, also had the distinction of racing back-to-back Epsom Derby winners. Engelhard won the 1970 classic with Nijinsky, who would retire to Claiborne, and Mellon won the 1971 edition with Mill Reef, a homebred colt who stood in England.
After Engelhard died in 1971, Mellon took over sole ownership of Admiring. From her Mellon got the G2 winner Glowing Tribute, a daughter of Graustark. Glowing Tribute, the fourth dam of Ironicus, also gave Mellon his only Kentucky Derby winner, Sea Hero.
Sea Hero, by the way, was a son of the Phipps-bred Claiborne sire Polish Navy, whose fourth dam was La Troienne. Sea Hero, therefore, was inbred 5×5 to La Troienne. This method of inbreeding to La Troienne had been utilized by Ogden Phipps earlier when he got Numbered Account, a champion daughter of Buckpasser and Intriguing who was 4×5 to La Troienne. Accumulating many strains of La Troienne in a pedigree had been a goal of many breeders then and still is to this day.
Getting back to Ironicus, Paul Mellon’s Rokeby bred from Admiring Glowing Tribute, Wild Applause, and Queen’s Wild — the horse’s fourth, third, and second dams, respectively.
Elizabeth Moran’s Brushwood Stable purchased Queen’s Wild for $340,000 at the Rokeby dispersal in 1992. At the same sale, Seth Hancock bought Wild Applause for $1,025,000 for the account of Claiborne and Adele Dilschneider.
Brushwood bred Queen’s Wild to A.P. Indy and got Meghan’s Joy, the dam of Ironicus.
Meghan’s Joy was later purchased by Seth Hancock for Janney at the Keeneland November sale in 2001 for $450,000, in foal to Deputy Minister. For Janney, she’s produced five Graded stakes winners, including Ironicus. They are Norumbega (G2 by Tiznow), On Leave (G2 by War Front), Hunting (G3 by Coronado’s Quest), and Quiet Harbor (G3 by Silver Deputy). Additionally, she’s also the dam of stakes winner Seal Cove (Strong Hope) and Graded-placed Minister’s Joy (Deputy Minister).
Ironicus has been the best of them. A winner of six of 15 starts with seven placings and earnings of $1,148,790, Ironicus is a multiple Graded winner who ran with some of the best turf horses of his generation. He won the G2 Bernard Baruch at Saratoga at a mile and a sixteenth, the G2 Dixie at Pimlico over the same trip, and the G3 Fort Marcy at Belmont at a mile and a eighth. He was also second to Flintshire in the G1 Manhattan Stakes at a mile and a quarter and was only defeated a head by Miss Temple City in the G1 Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes at Keeneland. He finished his career with a fourth to Tourist in the G1 BC Mile at Santa Anita — the first time since his debut that he hadn’t run 1-2-3.
A generous and consistent performer just shy of top class, Ironicus offers quite a bit of value for $7,500. Another stallion at the farm, the accomplished Flatter, a non-stakes winner bred on the reverse cross to Ironicus, entered stud for $5,000 and now commands $35,000. Flatter — and his brother, Congrats — was bred by Claiborne and Adele Dilschneider and is from the same family of Ironicus, too, as his second dam is Wild Applause — the third dam of Ironicus. This is a terrifically productive family of high-class racehorses, broodmares, and sires, and given the fee, Ironicus should especially be on the radar of the small breeder.