Letter To The Editor: Lamb Chop Deserves Hall Of Fame Consideration - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Letter To The Editor: Lamb Chop Deserves Hall Of Fame Consideration

Lamb Chop, Manuel Ycaza up and trainer James Maloney (left), following her win as a 3-year-old in the 1963 Spinster

With the Hall of Fame induction ceremony of Beholder, Tepin Royal Heroine, and Hillsdale in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., I would like to make a case for a forgotten champion, a filly from the early 1960s who has been on the ballot in the past but failed to garner enough votes. I am writing to make a case for her in the hopes she will sometime soon become enshrined.

I am speaking of the gorgeous filly Lamb Chop. She was a member of the first crop by Bold Ruler and his first champion. She was out of a daughter of Triple Crown hero Count Fleet and from the immediate family of Pilate, Cosmic Bomb, and Prince John. Lamb Chop was an elegant chestnut with a broad blaze and a gentle temperament around the barn but all business on the track. She was bred by Bull Hancock's Claiborne Farm and raced by William Haggin Perry on a foal-sharing agreement the two gentlemen had.

Trained by Hall of Famer James Maloney, Lamb Chop won 12 of 23 races over three seasons. Her 3-year-old campaign saw her race from winter in California to Aqueduct in the late autumn. She made 15 starts that season and won nine. Her victory skein included the La Centinela Stakes, Santa Susana Stakes, Comely Stakes, Jersey Belle Stakes, Coaching Club American Oaks, Monmouth Oaks, Gazelle Handicap, Firenze Handicap, and the Spinster Stakes. Five of these races would later be classified as Grade 1 at some point after the introduction of the grading system for American races.

For any horse to win the equivalent of five Grade 1 races in a single season is a huge accomplishment–something that even Beholder did not do.

Lamb Chop did suffer two heartbreaking nose losses in the Alabama Stakes and the Beldame Stakes, and she also was third in the Acorn and Mother Goose Stakes to a tenacious bay buzzsaw named Spicy Living, a daughter of Gallant Man (Bold Ruler's great rival) out of a full sister to Nasrullah. Lamb Chop took the measure of Spicy Living in the Comely Stakes, CCA Oaks, and Monmouth Oaks. These two fillies engaged in an intense rivalry that spring and summer of 1963.

Lamb Chop also displayed her versatility when she ran in the seven-furlong Test Stakes at Saratoga and then the mile and a quarter Alabama in her next start. She was second in both, but did not go down easily in either.

Fresh off her championship season, Lamb Chop took on the best older males in the San Fernando Stakes at Santa Anita in the winter of 1964. She was second to the formidable Gun Bow that day. To give an idea of what an accomplishment that was, Gun Bow would win the equivalent of six Grade 1 races in 1964 and only Kelso denied him a championship.

Tragically, Lamb Chop broke down while attempting to take Gun Bow on again in the Strub Stakes and had to be humanely euthanized.

During her racing career, Lamb Chop won 12 times from 23 starts and was only out of the top three twice, and one of those was when she was fatally injured. That level of consistency is what makes terrific racehorses.

Over twenty years ago, I wrote an article on Lamb Chop and published in the old SPUR magazine. I had been fascinated by Lamb Chop ever since I purchased an original oil painting of her by Nancy Beldon at an antique shop over 30 years ago.

I even spoke to Lamb Chop's owner, William Haggin Perry by phone shortly before his death in 1993. He told me stories of her beauty, her personality, her courage, and his hope that she would one day be able to join Gamely, his other great filly by Bold Ruler, in the Hall of Fame. He even mailed me a photo of his own oil painting of Lamb Chop, done by Milton Menasco. Mr. Perry was such a gentleman, in ill health but happily talking to a young (back then) horse-crazy woman, sharing his memories of a filly I had never seen race (being a toddler at the time), but nonetheless was captivated by her.

Today, Lamb Chop is all but forgotten, except maybe as a trivia question as to who was the first champion sired by Bold Ruler. Lamb Chop does not rest under green grass and flowers as does Ruffian and Go For Wand. Lamb Chop's grave is located on the Santa Anita backstretch, out of sight from racetrack visitors. She, along with Roving Boy and Quicken Tree, lie under old, worn, and faded Astro-turf, with a water pump and track equipment nearby. I did get to see her grave many years ago, when on a dark day, I just drove to the track and begged a security guard to let me visit it. Since I was a harmless, horse-crazy woman, he kindly took me to see the graves.

Lamb Chop was a terrific champion. She deserves to have her racetrack accomplishments recognized with enshrinement in the Hall of Fame and I hope her day comes someday soon.

Elizabeth Martiniak, Janesville, Wisc.

If you would like to submit a letter to the editor, please write to info at paulickreport.com and include contact information where you may be reached if editorial staff have any questions.

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