The Arc is this weekend, the Keeneland sale ended last week, and in between a number of tangents intersected to lead here, to the two-time Arc winner Alleged and his notorious temperament. He was a foal of 1974 by Hoist the Flag from Princess Pout, by Prince John, and he was probably for the longest time—and still may be—the best colt sold at a 2-year-old in training sale. He was conditioned by Vincent O’Brien for Robert Sangster and was ridden by Lester Piggott, never raced at 2 raced once at 2, and was for months the “second” horse at Ballydoyle behind the flashier and more precocious Northern Dancer colt The Minstrel. The latter was a Group 1 winner at 2 and would win the Irish and Epsom Derbys at 3. Alleged, however, was the better colt, and after The Minstrel was put away it was time for the hot bay to shine. He did, winning 9 of 10 at 3 and 4, and he is the last horse to win the Arc twice, emulating the feat of his great grandsire, the undefeated and notoriously hot Ribot.
Alleged entered stud in Kentucky at Johnny T.L. Jones Jr.’s Walmac and became an outstanding sire, only eclipsed at the farm by the great sire Nureyev. I ran into Johnny, now retired and no longer the owner of the stud farm, at Keeneland recently. Click here to see a post on him. He’d formed the Four Star Sales agency some time back with Kerry Cauthen, Dan Kenny, and David Greathouse. The writer Frances J. Karon, who edits the North American Trainer magazine, was a longtime employee of Johnny’s at Walmac and now runs cards at Four Star. I met Frances at Keeneland, too, but I’d been speaking to her all year on Twitter and knew she’d had first-hand experience with Alleged at Walmac and had photographed the horse over a period of years. She’d told me she was planning a personal story on Alleged to coincide with the Arc.
Frances and I’d had occasion to bring up Alleged recently because another former Walmac person, Brent, who follows me on Twitter and through this blog, had sent in an account of Alleged’s temperament as a stallion at Walmac in response to a recent post on the temperamental Sariska. He’d emailed it to me to post in the comments section anonymously. It can be read in its entirety here, and the following is an excerpt, as he wrote it:
He was pretty tough at Walmac until he got really old, and even then he had a presence that was amazing. He owned the joint. When Alleged was young generally the stud groom would snap the shank on Alleged over the fence near the gate and then walk him down to the gate while still outside the paddock. At the paddock gate another groom would snap a second shank on the off side of the halter and both grooms would lead Alleged to his stall. And the chain portion of the shank stayed on the halter so a person didn’t have to thread it through every time he handled Alleged. Too dangerous.
“Alleged was terrified of things like blowing leaves or any stray paper blowing by and would freeze when he saw things like that. Once when Mo Fredericks was the farm manager back in the ’80s, Alleged grabbed him or J.D. Howard, the farm vet—can’t remember which—and threw him to the ground. I think they were breeding a farm mare after hours and didn’t have a full crew there, something like that.”
Frances, as she said she would, posted today at her excellent and new blog a beautiful piece on Alleged’s last days, a personal remembrance that runs longer than most magazine pieces and continues where Brent’s note ended. See an excerpt from Frances below.
I’ve been visiting him every day now, giving him two carrots at a time. The other day I had to give part of one of them to Gentlemen (not by hand of course!) because it was too thick for Alleged to chew and I couldn’t break it any smaller without a knife. I have the sense now to pick smaller carrots for his worn down old teeth. After he finished, I braved up (or as J.D. rightly pointed out, behaved stupidly) and gave him the side of my hand to suck on. He grabbed hold of it and clamped down gently, not trying to hurt me at all; he just held it contentedly. I don’t know what came over me that I placed my hand into the mouth of the beast, but I had seen one of the stud guys do it often.”
Click here to read the entire post, which is titled, “Saying Goodbye to Arc Winner Alleged.” It’s a poignant footnote to one of the great European runners of recent times and a colt I was fortunate to see race in 1977, as a teenager, in England during a summer vacation.