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The Golden Cross Gets Top Vote
...The Bourbon King Influence Found Throughout

by Bob Funkhouser
Posted February 19, 2002
We selected trainers and breeders of different ages and different locations and it's amazing how similar a lot of the responses were. While there were different likes and dislikes, it was obvious the "Golden Cross" of Wing Commander and Supreme Sultan was given the most credit for the makeup of today's show horse. It is a formula that has been tried and true and while both stallions were fortunate to be bred to a great number of mares, they were also bred to many quality show mares.

CH Wing Commander was a six-times Five-Gaited World's Grand Champion from 1948 through 1953 and his breeding career continued well into the '60s ranking as the number one performance sire from 1963 to 1968. He died in January of 1969. Supreme Sultan was the number one performance sire in the nation from 1977 until his death in 1983. In the early '70s he was the number one futurity sire for three years.

The records of these horses as individuals were incredible and when sons and daughters were crossed, it made for an endless procession of champion show horses. CH Imperator was just one example of the cross. He was by Supreme Sultan out of Empress Wing by Wing Commander. Now some 30 years later, breeders are still subscribing to a heavy concentration of that cross. The name Will Shriver also came up more than once, crediting him with putting the rack back into today's most current stars.

Others went deeper into history to give Edna May's King, Anacacho Shamrock, Anacacho Denmark, Stonewall King, and King's Genius credit for having the most influence over great lines of horses. And if you look close enough you find Bourbon King in the pedigree of every one of these great horses.

Back in the 1940s noted Saddlebred historian Emily Ellen Scharf, who wrote many books under the name of Susanne, credited Bourbon King as "being the greatest son of the great sire Bourbon Chief. In fact, with only one exception, Bourbon King has proven himself to have been the greatest sire that has appeared to date in our Saddle Horse breed," said Susanne in Volume II of Famous Saddle Horses. "That one exception was Rex Peavine who divides equally with Bourbon King the honor and the distinction for having sired more winners of five-gaited classes and stakes and more high-priced sellers than any other Saddle Horse sire that has yet lived. Neither, except for the other, has ever had a near rival as such a sire."

Bourbon King was foaled in 1900 and lived to be 30, spending most of his life in Kentucky under the direction of Allie G. Jones and his sons, Joe and Charlton, a family which bred as many nice horses as anyone in the history of the American Saddlebred. As a show horse, Bourbon King was the winner of the Five-Gaited Stake at the Kentucky State Fair as a three-year-old (before that title was known as the Five-Gaited World's Grand Championship). Susanne described Bourbon King as the combination of blood from the "three leading Saddle Horse producing families: the Denmark, the Chief, and the Morgan." He sired many outstanding show horses and more importantly many outstanding sons who in turn have sired horses who have continued this noble bloodline generation after generation.

Bourbon King's most prolific sons include Edna May's King and King's Genius and both of those sires produced horses with significant impact all along the way. For example, King's Genius sired Bourbon Genius, who sired Genius Bourbon King, who sired Valley View Supreme, who sired Supreme Sultan, who sired Sultan's Santana, Supreme Heir, Sultan's Great Day, and the list goes on and on and on. Each of those early stallions were at the top of their peers during their time and the modern day sires have already spoken for themselves with numerous number one ratings.

Mentioned by many in our survey, CH Wing Commander was certainly one of the greatest show horses our breed has ever known and as equally great a sire. He had the Bourbon King influence on the top sides of both his sire and dam. Wing Commander was a great grandson of Bourbon King on his sire's side, having been sired by Anacacho Shamrock the great producing son of Edna May's King, whom many have credited as having one of the greatest influences on our breed. In Volume III of Famous Saddle Horses, Susanne said this of Edna May's King. "The old adage, 'blood will tell,' was never more strongly exemplified than by Edna May's King. All through his life, even in his last years, he possessed rare quality, brilliant motion which years did not alter, a personality the equal of which has been possessed by only a few horses, a presence with which no other stallion has been blessed to a greater degree, high intelligence, and a disposition kind and gentle."

This high praise was backed by his sons and daughters time and time again. Earlier Susanne had described Bourbon King and Rex Peavine as the two greatest sires the breed had known to that point and Edna May's King was a direct result of those two families. Sired by Bourbon King, he was out of the Rex Peavine daughter, Edna May who was reported to have won over 400 blue ribbons in her career with less than a half-dozen defeats for her owner Mrs. Richard Tasker Lowndes of Danville, Ky.

Edna May's King was described as "a growthy colt of splendid bone and substance." It was also reported that his first show ring appearance was as a five-year-old, placing reserve in the Five-Gaited Stallion Stake at the 1923 Kentucky State Fair. He placed third in the $10,000 Five-Gaited Championship behind Mass Of Gold and Violet Heming, but it was there that California horseman Revel English first saw the impressive stallion. Following the show English approached Allie Jones about buying the stallion but was told he was not for sale. After repeated attempts, Jones finally told English that if he made the right offer he would consider selling. He finally paid an unheard of price of $12,000.

English had a young trainer by the name of J.E. Logan working for him at the time and he thought English was crazy for paying that much money for a horse. "No horse, living or dead, was worth $12,000," said Logan in Volume III of Famous Saddle Horses. When Logan arrived in Kentucky to pick up the stallion he was asked if he would like to see Edna May's King work. He replied, "Yes, I would like to see $12,000 under one saddle."

Logan was most impressed with what he saw and the stallion returned to California to begin his show ring career with English. He started the season in February being defeated by a top mare named Daugherty Dare. Edna May's King showed rapid improvement throughout the season and it was decided he would be shipped east to the 1924 Kentucky State Fair. Revel English made history by becoming the first amateur to win the Five-Gaited World's Grand Championship, a record that stood until fellow Californian Michele Macfarlane accomplished the feat in 1988 riding CH Sky Watch, a great-great grandson of Edna May's King.

English retired Edna May's King to stud following his world's grand championship but then received much criticism for not showing him so in 1926 the stallion returned to the ring to again win the World's Grand Championship with a performance many said was the greatest they had ever seen up to that point.

The magnificent stallion had been described many times as a natural athlete with a remarkable presence. In her book, Famous Saddle Horses, Susanne described how little he wore. "Edna May's King wore a four and a quarter inch toe, and shoes on his front feet weighed 13 and a half ounces and on his hind feet, seven ounces. For his bridle he had a very short shank, small curb bit, and a very small snaffle. The caveson was never tight; it was buckled so one could slip three fingers between it and the horse's chin. He never took hold, never pulled an ounce. In all the time that he was owned by English he was never known to make a mistake. No horse ever lived with a finer disposition or more sense than Edna May's King."

It was reported that the only regret English ever had about Edna May's King was putting a price tag on him. In 1930 he was sold to R.W. Morrison, owner of Anacacho Ranch in Spofford, Texas, for a record price of $40,000. That price held the record for 16 years until another stallion, Beau Fortune (who was out of an Edna May's King daughter), sold for $50,000. Edna May's King stood at Anacacho Ranch for 13 years until his death in 1943.

Volumes could be written about the show ring winners sired by Edna May's King, but for the breed as we know it today, he more importantly sired some great breeding stallions. The two that are most often credited with having a major influence on the breed are Anacacho Shamrock and Anacacho Denmark.

Foaled in 1932, Anacacho Shamrock was out of the highly regarded mare Sally Cameron. She was by a Forest King son named Highland King Squirrel. The name Black Squirrel also appears three times on Sally Cameron's papers to go with other top early sires including Harrison Chief and Montrose. He was campaigned quite successfully as a gaited stallion by Anacacho Ranch, winning stallion stakes and championships from coast to coast. In 1941 he was sold to Frances M. Dodge of the famed Dodge Stables.

He proved to be just as successful in the breeding shed as he did in the show ring. Some of his most noted get included Another Blue, Meadow Dew, Main Title, Shannondale, My King's X, Rocket Patrol, Deal Me In, Star Of The Show, Gay Lover, Priceless Heritage, King Of Harmony, Fluffy McDuffy, Rita's Dream, Glorious Starlite, Royal Affair, and many others. Anacacho Shamrock would have gone down in history as a grand sire with just this group, but his best came when bred to the King's Genius (by Bourbon King) daughter Flirtation Walk.

The first foal from Anacacho Shamrock and Flirtation Walk was Lover's Lane, winner of the Five-Gaited Mare World's Championship in 1948 and '49. She went on to be the dam of the multi-titled world's champion three-gaited mare Lover's Sensation. The next product of this great cross was Wing Commander himself. Not only was he a six-times world's grand champion, but unlike today's stake horses he showed numerous times a year. Wing Commander ended his career with 167 winning performances against two defeats, both of those to Daneshall's Easter Parade, the 1947 Five-Gaited World's Grand Champion and eventual dam of six-times Five-Gaited World's Grand Champion My My. And then as a breeding horse, Wing Commander had few equals, one of his most famous sons being the three-time Five-Gaited World's Grand Champion CH Yorktown, who in turn was a sire of numerous world's champions.

The next two foals produced by Anacacho Shamrock and Flirtation Walk also turned out to be noted breeding stallions. Private Contract and Command Decision both sired many top horses and as the years went by Private Contract mares were highly coveted by breeders. Another filly was foaled at Dodge Stables in 1950 as a result of this magic cross. Dream Waltz went on to win the Five-Gaited World's Grand Championship in 1956 making herself and Wing Commander the only full siblings to ever win the most coveted title in the show horse industry. Two years later Dream Waltz was the Junior Exhibitor Five-Gaited World's Champion and then as a broodmare produced the highly regarded breeding stallions Supreme Spirit and Waltz King.

The last offspring from this legendary family was the mare Primrose Path. She won many blue ribbons in the gaited division showing under the Dodge Stables banner at such places as the New York National, Devon, Washington International, Harrisburg, and the Illinois State Fair. When bred to the Dodge Stables' stallion, Vanity's Sensation of Crebilly, she produced many nice horses including the breeding stallions Baron de Bastrop and Primrose Trail.

The impact of Anacacho Shamrock had indeed been great, while at the same time another Edna May's King son, Anacacho Denmark, made a lasting impact on the breed as well. Bred by Revel English, owner of Edna May's King, Anacacho Denmark was sold to R.W. Morrison's Anacacho Ranch at an early age and then was later, as a two-year-old, sold to W.G. Shropshire for a reported $7,500. His name was changed to Ivan The Terrible and he became one of the best gaited horses ever shown under the Shropshire ownership. A few years later he was again sold, this time to Audrey's Choice Stables in Rhode Island at a price of $24,000. However, it wasn't long before he foundered and his show ring days were over. Some of his early successes as a sire were Grassland's Belle, later named Worthweil. She won at Madison Square Garden, Lexington and the Indiana State Fair. Then there was Denmark's Majestic, a top show horse on the west coast. Soon Anacacho Denmark was resold to Anacacho Ranch who again stood the stallion to numerous mares. He was also the sire of the 1947 and 1953 Fine Harness World's Grand Champion Regal Aire. And then in 1961 and '62 a beautiful Anacacho Denmark daughter by the name of CH Denmark's Daydream, won the Five-Gaited World's Grand Championship.

As Anacacho Ranch dispersed, Freeman Keyes of Reverie Knoll Farm, Danville, Ky., purchased Anacacho Denmark and a group of select mares. At Reverie Knoll he shot to the top of the sire ratings with such stars as Reverie's Kentucky Belle, Desert Victory, Reverie's Dawn Patrol, Reverie's Highland Denmark, Reverie's Grand Performance, Reverie's Gift Of Roses, and Reverie's Sea Bee.

Anacacho Denmark also gave the industry a nice group of breeding stallions including Anacacho Empire, Americus Denmark, Golden Thunderbolt, Clarma, Ridgefield's Denmark, Oman's Anacacho Rhythm, Broadland's Captain Denmark, Denmark's Bourbon Genius and of course Oman's Desdemona Denmark. All of the above sires stamped their influence on the breed, none quite as strong as Oman's Desdemona Denmark who sired two-times Five-Gaited World's Grand Champion CH Belle Elegant, Glenview's Radiance, Denmark's Grand Duchess, Sensational Princess, Summer Melody, Denmark's Spitfire, and many, many more.

As successful as he was siring show horses and breeding stallions, Anacacho Denmark went down in history as a great broodmare sire as well. Three of his daughters alone were the dams of three of the greatest modern day sires, CH Yorktown, Supreme Sultan, and CH Will Shriver. When mated with CH Wing Commander, Oman's Anacacho Maytime produced CH Yorktown who in addition to his three Five-Gaited World's Grand Championships, sired numerous world title holders including two-time Five-Gaited World's Grand Champion Man On The Town and two-time Three-Gaited World's Grand Champion Home Town Hero. Yorktown also sired New Yorker who has been hailed by many breeders as one of the greatest sires of his era.

Melody O'Lee, a daughter of Anacacho Denmark and Judy O'Lee, produced the legendary Supreme Sultan when mated with Three-Gaited World's Grand Champion Valley View Supreme. In addition to being the number one rated sire for seven years, Supreme Sultan is still the only stallion to sire open world's grand champions in all three divisions: Sultan's Santana, CH Sultan's Starina, and CH Imperator.

The Anacacho Denmark daughter, Kate Shriver, won the Fine Harness World's Grand Championship in 1940 and '50 before giving birth to CH Will Shriver and CH Rob Shriver. Will Shriver won the Five-Gaited World's Grand Championship in 1976 and then went on to be the leading sire of five-gaited horses for many years. Now his sons, Caramac, Callaway's Blue Norther and others are continuing to sire world class show horses.

From these descendants of Edna May's King have come the majority of our Five-Gaited World's Grand Champions. The ability and substance have stayed with them generation after generation. One other stallion most often referred to in our survey was the Missouri stallion Stonewall King. He was a product of the Black Squirrel, Bourbon Chief, and Rex Peavine families. Bred by J.G. Duncan of Millersburg, Mo., the son of My King and Gloriann (by Rex Peavine), went on to fame under Murray Cason of Stephens, Mo. Stonewall King did not have the advantage of being bred to many top mares, in fact he was bred to several grade mares throughout his career. Stonewall King was said to have been a beautiful horse with lots of heart and stamina. One his most illustrious show horses was the 1945, '46 Five-Gaited World's Grand Champion Oakhill Chief. Others included Stonewall Shannon, Stonewall Princess, Stonewall Diamond, Stonewall Chief, Wilmar's Stonewall, Shirley Stonewall, King Stonewall, Lovely Ballerina, Stonewall Sensation, and The Invasion.

Stonewall King will go down in history also for siring several highly regarded stallions including Stonewall Supreme and Starheart Stonewall. The daughters of Stonewall Supreme were some of the most sought after by breeders. Among his greats were CH Supreme Airs, not only the Fine Harness World's Grand Champion of 1972, but also the dam of the number one rated stallion Supreme Heir, the dam of Fine Harness World's Grand Champion and world's champion sire CH Foxfire's Prophet, and the second dam of the top ranked world's champion sire Harlem Globetrotter. Another Stonewall Supreme daughter, Supreme's Casindra, is the dam of the top ranked Sultan's Great Day who of course has sired one of the greatest three-gaited stars of all-time World's Grand Champion Winter Day.

The Stonewall King son, Starheart Stonewall, was a sire of many outstanding show horses including Three-Gaited World's Grand Champion CH Sunshine Carol, Three-Gaited World's Grand Champion Techni-Star, and Fine Harness World's Grand Champion CH The Thunderbird. Starheart Stonewall also went on to sire highly ranked stallions. Hi son, Stonewall's Main Event, sired two-time Fine Harness World's Grand Champion La La Success and she was later the dam of three-times Fine Harness World's Grand Champion CH Radiant Success. Main Event sired a Three-Gaited World's Grand Champion as well, the 1980 title holder Seymour's Finest Hour. Starheart Stonewall also sired the noted breeding stallion Starheart Peavine who in turn sired many champion walk-trot horses including You Are Love, Roses Are Red, Mr. Christopher Columbus, Circus Wonder, and Oh Lady Be Good.

This was a closer look at some of the stallions which were brought up in this survey. Volumes could be written about each individual, so this was only the highlights of their illustrious careers and their contributions to the modern day American Saddlebred. Breeders today are charged with continuing to better the American Saddlebred while trying to also maintain the characteristics that were strikingly similar decades ago.

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