Written by Juliette Beauchamp
On February 12, 1959 a handsome bay colt was born at Meadow Stud in Doswell, Virginia. Sired by Turn-To and out of Somethingroyal, the colt was named Sir Gaylord, and while he wasn’t as famous a racehorse as others in his family, he would go on to have a profound impact on the Thoroughbred breed.
Turn-To was imported from England as a yearling and sold to Captain Harry Guggenheim. After a modestly successful career on the track, he was retired to stud at Claiborne and later moved to Spendthrift Farm after Guggenheim and Arthur B. Hancock quarreled. Turn-To sired 25 stakes winners, among them Hail To Reason, Best Turn, and First Landing. A filly, Fast Turn, went on to produce the noted Ack Ack, also owned and run by Guggenheim.
Somethingroyal would garner fame a few years later thanks to her 1970 colt, Secretariat. In her career as a broodmare for the Meadow, she would produce eighteen foals, five of which went on to be stakes winners, and another five to be stakes placers. Although considered a blue hen mare in the breeding shed, Somethingroyal herself was a lackluster racehorse. In her first and only start, she finished out of the money and was promptly retired. She was a pretty bay mare, well-built but slightly pigeon-toed. She also had offset knees, which she passed on to Sir Gaylord and he in turn would pass on to some of his offspring.
Trained by Casey Hayes, Sir Gaylord had a very good two year old year, winning the 1961 Sapling Stakes, Great American Stakes, Tyro Stakes, and National Stallion Stakes as well as placing in several other races. As a three year old he won the Everglades Stakes and Bahamas Stakes, and seemed poised to be a major contender in the 1962 Kentucky Derby. Unfortunately, he fractured a sesamoid the day before the Derby, cutting short his promising career. Sir Gaylord was retired to stud soon after his injury, with earnings of $237,000.
Sir Gaylord stood at Caliborne until 1972 when he was sent to Haras du Quesnay, a large Thoroughbred breeding center in northwestern France. During his career at stud, he was twice ranked among the top ten American broodmare sires, and was included in the top ten French broodmare sires a total of three times. He died of renal failure in the spring of 1981.
Sir Gaylord sired 60 stakes winners in all, with the most successful being Sir Ivor, winner of the 1968 Epsom Derby and referred to by famed jockey Lester Piggott as “the best I ever rode.” Sir Ivor’s success had a pr`ofound impact on the American Thoroughbred’s role in Europe, with American-bred yearlings suddenly being sought after by European buyers. Instead of importing, U.S. breeders were now exporting promising young stock.
Another Sir Gaylord son, Habitat, won stakes races in England and France before retiring to a successful career at stud. Habitat was the U.K.’s leading broodmare sire in 1987, 1994, and 1996. A daughter, Gay Matelda, won five stakes races and retired with earnings of over $400,000.
Sir Gaylord can be found in the pedigrees of five Kentucky Derby winners; California Chrome, Mine That Bird, Smarty Jones, Charismatic, and Grindstone. He is also seen in the bloodlines of many other successful stakes winners of recent years, including Curlin, A.P. Indy, Rachel Alexandra, and Tapit.