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Female Racehorses of the Top 100 20th Century Rankings and Their Ancestry

Updated on August 28, 2011
Barbsbitsnpieces profile image

Barbara Anne Helberg is a Fiction freelancer, Internet writer, WordPress blogger, former Journalist, and a Famous Writers School graduate.

The great filly Ruffian was as dark as The Black.
The great filly Ruffian was as dark as The Black. | Source

In the rankings of the book Top 100 Racehorses of the 20th Century, by the Staff of Blood-Horse Publications,1999, only one achieved an undefeated career, only one had over 70 career posts, just three won the Kentucky Derby, six were voted Horse of the Year, and none were listed in the book's Top Thirty. Who are they?

Females of the Top 100 Kind

They are the females of the Top 100.

Personal Ensign was undefeated in her career of 13 starts. Gallorette posted up 72 times. Regret was the first female to win the Kentucky Derby, taking home the roses in 1915, followed by Genuine Risk in 1980 and Winning Colors in 1988.

Beldame (1904), Regret (1915), Twilight Tear (1944), Busher (1945), All Along (1983), and Lady's Secret (1986) were the 20th Century females voted Horse of the Year.

Regret is easily seen as the most accomplished of these feisty 20th Century females, yet she is ranked by Blood-Horse staff as low as No.71, while lifetime unbeaten Personal Ensign rates only No.48.

Females that hit the Top Fifty in the rankings include the following:

  • No.35 -- Ruffian (foaled in 1972, sired by Reviewer),11: 10-0-0
  • No.40 -- Busher (1942, by War Admiral), 21: 15-3-1
  • No.45 -- Gallorette (1942, by Challenger II), 72: 21-20-13
  • No.48 -- Personal Ensign (1984, by Private Account), 13: 13-0-0
  • No.50 -- Dahlia (1970, by Vaguely Noble), 48: 15-3-7


Twenty-One Females After No.50

An amazing 21 females grace the roster of the lower fifty top ranked racehorses of the 20th Century named by Blood-Horse's publication. They are:

  • No.51 -- Susan's Girl (1969, by Quadrangle), 63: 29-14-11
  • No.59 -- Twilight Tear (1941, by Bull Lea), 24: 18-2-2
  • No.62 -- Cicada (1959, by Bryan G.), 42: 23-8-6
  • No.66 -- Top Flight (1929, by Dis Donc), 16: 12-0-0
  • No.68 -- All Along, FR, (1979, by Targowice), 21: 9-4-2
  • No.70 -- Shuvee (1966, by Nashua), 44: 16-10-6
  • No.71 -- Regret (1912, by Broomstick), 11: 9-1-0
  • No.72 -- Go for Wand (1987, by Deputy Minister), 13: 10-2-0
  • No.76 -- Lady's Secret (1982, by Secretariat), 45: 25-9-3
  • No.77 -- Two Lea (1946, by Bull Lea), 26: 15-6-3
  • No.79 -- Gallant Bloom (1966, Gallant Man), 22: 16-1-1
  • No.80 -- Ta Wee (1966, by Intentionally), 21: 15-2-1
  • No.81 -- Affectionately (1960, by Swaps), 52: 28-8-6
  • No.82 -- Miesque (1984, by Nureyev), 16: 12-3-1
  • No.87 -- Gamely (1964, Bold Ruler), 41: 16-9-6
  • No.89 -- Bewitch (1945, by Bull Lea), 55: 20-10-11
  • No.90 -- Davona Dale (1976, by Best Turn), 18: 11-2-1
  • No.91 -- Genuine Risk (1977, by Exclusive Native), 15: 10-3-2
  • No.94 -- Artful (1902, by Hamburg), 8: 6-2-0
  • No.95 -- Bayakoa, ARG, (1984, by Consultant's Bid), 39: 21-9-0
  • No.98 -- Beldame (1901, by Octagon), 31: 17-6-4

These females left in the lower fifty were stalwarts of fine pedigrees. Bull Lea of the French stallion sensation Teddy; Kentucky Derby runners Swaps, Gallant Man, Secretariat, Nashua; and others like Nureyev are their heralded sires.

Miesque was a champion of the Breeders' Cup Mile, winning the distance back-to-back (1987-1988) competing against male fields.

Go for Wand scored in the 1989 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies contest.

Argentina's Bayakoa triumphed in the 1989 and 1990 Breeders' Cup Distaff at the ages of five and six, respectively.

Personal Ensign captured the Distaff in 1988, and Lady's Secret beat her rivals in the same race in 1986.


Females With Top Flight Families

Of the female Thoroughbreds who are ranked among the best 100 of the 20th Century, several of their sires are rated in the Top Twenty -- Secretariat (Lady's Secret), War Admiral (Busher), Bold Ruler (Gamely), and Swaps (Affectionately).

Ruffian's sire was fathered by Bold Ruler, as well. Her dam, Shenanigans, was sired by Native Dancer, and she traced to Discovery in both houses of her parentage. Teddy's son Sir Gallahad III sired one of Ruffian's maternal great-grandsires, Fighting Fox.

Busher traced to offspring of Man o' War, one of America's all-time great sires. Bubbling Over, 1926 Kentucky Derby victor, sired Busher's first dam, Baby League. Teddy and Ajax served her maternal house, and Sweep showed ancestors in each house.

Damascus, Sword Dancer, Buckpasser, and Tom Fool are in Personal Ensign's paternal house, while Tom Rolfe, Ribot, Hyperion, and War Admiral were stud relatives in her maternal mix.

Hyperion served in both houses of Dahlia's ancestry, while 1930 Triple Crown winner Gallant Fox sired her third dam, Gilded Wave, and Nearco sired Noble Lassie, Dahlia's paternal granddam.

These females on the list of America's best ever 100 racehorses may be rated lower on the list than top ten Triple Crown winners Secretariat, War Admiral, Citation, Count Fleet, and Seattle Slew, but they are no less thought of by their owners, breeders, and family stable connections for their contributions to the Sport of Kings.


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    • Barbsbitsnpieces profile image

      Barbara Anne Helberg 6 years ago from Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio, USA

      Back at you, P.K.W.! Regards!

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

      Pamela Kinnaird W 6 years ago from Maui and Arizona

      That's terrible that the poor things get bred every year....and thank heavens sometimes they lay barren. Thanks for your reply.

    • Barbsbitsnpieces profile image

      Barbara Anne Helberg 6 years ago from Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio, USA

      Hi, P.K.W.! Thanks for your inquiry. Lady's Secret was sired by Secretariat, who died in 1989 from laminitis. Lady's Secret passed in 2003 from foaling complications. It is common Thoroughbred breeding practice to have a broodmare bred each year; sometimes they aren't able to conceive and lay barren, but may have produced successfully the year before and do so the year after a barren season.

      Lady's Secret was a great race filly, but none of her foals achieved anything close to her conquests on the track. (A filly is age three and four. Thereafter the term is mare.)

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

      Pamela Kinnaird W 6 years ago from Maui and Arizona

      I was reading about Lady's Secret today and the fact that she died during foaling in 1989. She was a broodmare. In general, are broodmares bred too often -- i.e. every year?

    • Barbsbitsnpieces profile image

      Barbara Anne Helberg 6 years ago from Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio, USA

      P.K.W. - Thanks so much for your interest! Yes, I like to get on the females' bandwagon once in a while, as they tend to get overlooked for attention in comparison to the fellas. The Thoroughbred is an awesome creature!

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

      Pamela Kinnaird W 6 years ago from Maui and Arizona

      Very exciting hub you've written here. I want to follow up on some of these female horses you've brought to everyone's attention. I never knew about them. Wonderful information. Voted up and awesome. Mahalo!