INFLUENTIAL SIRES FROM BEFORE THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
These horses appear in the pedigrees of Janus II (taproot sire of the American Quarter Horse), Gaines' Denmark (the chief foundation sire of the American Saddlebred), Rysdyk’s Hambletonian (foundation sire of the American Standardbred), and a few other important 19th century sires including Ethan Allen 50.
Old Fox (1714) by Clumsey, who traces in sire line back to the Helmsley Turk and Hobby mares; out of Bay Peg, a great-granddaughter of Old Bald Peg, whom breed historian Alexander Mackay-Smith has identified as the greatest source of short speed in both the Quarter Horse and the Thoroughbred. Fox was never exported, so his influence was felt first in America through his son Dabster 1736 (imported about 1741) and then through his grandson Janus II (1746, imported 1757). We will be examining Janus II’s life story, breeding and progeny in detail in an upcoming series on the history of the American Quarter Horse. The contemporary painting of Old Fox is by James Seymour; note the horse’s small size. Hobby ancestry shows through Fox’s big, powerful haunches and slightly crooked hind legs; Turk ancestry through his long-legged, lathy build and deep, oblique shoulder. Note the quality head with prominent bone structure, broad forehead, fine nostril and alert, intelligent expression. Monkey (1725, imp. 1737) by the Lonsdale Bay Turk out of a mare by the Curwen Barb. Monkey appears at the very beginning of Thoroughbred history and thus derives in no part from the Darley, Byerly or Godolphin sires. He was probably imported by Col. Nathaniel Harrison of northern Virginia; later he was sent to North Carolina. We are lucky to have a contemporary portrait of Monkey, which shows his conformation to be similar to that of Old Fox: small size, sinewy build, big powerful haunches, deep oblique shoulder,
high withers and hard, wellarticulated legs. Similar too is the head, with its sharp bone structure, wide forehead and sensitive nostrils. The artist has emphasized the horse’s prominent and lively eyes, a normal feature of good horses of Oriental breeding.
Although the stallion Bulle Rock (1709) had been imported six years earlier, Monkey left a far larger stamp on American horse breeding. As with other very early imports, there were only a few blooded mares for him to cover, but this probably did not concern his importers—at this early date there were no fourmile racecourses in Virginia. British breeders were inclined to send blooded horses to the Colonies when they proved to lack the combination of speed and stamina that it took to win in King’s Plate racing. At the same time, horses who showed sprint speed were exactly what Colonial importers were looking for. Once arrived on these shores, Monkey was put to Hobby, Narragansett and Jamaica mares, which as breed historian Fairfax Harrison says, “made of them the foundation stock for the successful quarter-racers which it was the privilege of Janus ultimately to galvanize.”
Monkey did sire some purebred foals, and these came out of dams who had been sired by other early mports: r, Silver Eye. Their foals s influence within d registry into the uries. s likely that 10 times as nning eds— though called “country breds,” they were actually an elite, the best which a hundred years of production and race-testing in Virginia and North Carolina could produce. Because he lacked Hobby blood, Monkey crossed well on heavily Hobby mares.
Unfortunately, we don’t have images for other Thoroughbred sires imported before 1800, but they are no less important than Old Fox and Monkey. Of particular note are Jolly Roger (1743), imported in 1751 by Col. John Spotswood of southern Virginia. Jolly Roger was the sire of Poll Flaxen (1750), out of imported Mary Gray. Bred to Janus II, she produced the filly Nell Gwynn. Bred back to her sire, she produced the colt Fleetwood (1776), sire of Printer, an important ancestor of the American Quarter Horse.
Silver Eye (circa 1745) was imported in 1756. His pedigree is variously cited, but the most likely theory is that he was by Regulus by the Godolphin out of an unknown dam. Fearnought (1755), also by Regulus, was imported in 1764 by John Baylor of Virginia. His dam was Silvertail, whose pedigree is filled with “Arabians”— most of which were probably Turks. She harks back to the Darley but more importantly to the Godolphin and, further back, to the Helmsley Turk, a font of both speed and bottom. In America, Fearnought became a leading sire of distance horses, but when bred to choice sprint mares, he also sired winning quarter-milers.
By far the most important pre-Revolutionary domesticbred was the black Mark Anthony (1762), by Lightfoot’s Partner by imported Morton’s Traveller, out of Septima, she by imported Othello. After a moderately successful race career Mark Anthony was retired to stud, standing for the most part in North Carolina.
Allen Jones Davie said after observing him at the age of 27, “He was a horse of uncommon beauty, fine action, and great racing powers, a winner at all distances, remarkable alike for good feet and legs and a bad and ungovernable temper; these qualities marked his descendants, yet it was usual to see a Mark Anthony valuable for the turf, the saddle, or harness.”
Mark Anthony’s name today is found mainly in the deep pedigree of American Quarter Horses, but he also occasionally appears as an ancestor of Standardbreds and Saddlebreds.