A good Thoroughbred racehorse has a mettlesome look: brimming with spirit, courageous. The champion often possesses, in addition, an air of hauteur, or so it seems to human eyes. But no visible sign of temper or talent, of color or conformation, indicates whether he will transmit his attributes of excellence to his sons and daughters. Champions, experience shows, rarely reproduce themselves, and many—like Swaps (opposite)—are the offspring of undistinguished runners. In Photographer Jerry Cooke's handsome portfolio of stallions who have achieved fame in the U.S. (following pages) nearly all are distinguished by their records on the track. A rare few have had notable success as both racers and sires.
Swaps won 19 of 25 races during his career, including the 1955 Kentucky Derby, though he was bothered continuously by an injured foot. His best offspring have been Chateaugay, Primonetta and Affectionately.
Native Dancer, here enjoying a roll in the dust, was second only once, in the 1953 Derby, won 21 other races. He has sired European stars Hula Dancer and Dan Cupid and Derby and Preakness winner Kauai King.
Khaled was not a champion when he raced abroad but was bought as a stallion for $160,000 by Rex Ellsworth because of his perfect conformation. Swaps is the most famous son of this leading California sire.
Ribot, the Italian-bred 15-year-old son of Tenerani, won all of his 16 races in Italy, France and England, including two successive victories in the Arc de Triomphe. In the U.S. he has sired Tom Rolfe and Graustark.
Needles was the first Florida-bred to win the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont. A son and grandson of Derby winners (Ponder and Pensive), Needles' presence in Ocala has given much impetus to Florida breeding.
Count Fleet, now 27, is one of only eight horses to win the Triple Crown. He went to stud after triumphs in 16 of 21 races, has sired, among many others, Maid of Flight, dam of five-time champion Kelso.
Tom Fool missed the classics as a 3-year-old in 1952, but the following season he accomplished the amazing feat of winning all 10 of his starts in the exacting handicap division. Buckpasser heads the list of his sons.
Nashua, beaten by Swaps in the Derby, won the Preakness and Belmont and squared matters with Swaps in their famous match race. A temperamental son of Nasrullah, he has yet to achieve top ranking as a sire.
Bold Ruler, another Nasrullah offspring with a disposition of his own, was brilliant at middle distances in 1957, and so are his numerous talented progeny. But few have shown the staying ability for a classic route.