Originally appeared February 16, 2006
Glorious Song — 1980 U.S. Champion Older Female & Canadian Horse of the Year
Last weekend, Santa Anita held two premier events for older fillies and
mares, the Santa Maria H. (G1) and La Canada S. (G2), so we’ll take the
opportunity to recall a top-class mare who captured both of those prizes during
her distinguished career. Like other magnificent racemares, Glorious Song
routinely campaigned against males and held her own, most notably when forcing
the sensational Spectacular Bid to dig deep to beat her, but she may be even
better remembered for her stellar career as a broodmare.
Glorious Song was bred in Canada by the renowned E. P. Taylor, who had
already earned lasting fame for breeding the all-conquering Northern Dancer.
Glorious Song was sired by United Nations H. (G1) winner Halo from the *Herbager
mare Ballade. This proved to be an explosive genetic mixture, as later meetings
between Halo and Ballade would result in two significant full brothers to
Glorious Song — Devil’s Bag, 1983 champion two-year-old colt, and Saint Ballado,
winner of the 1992 Arlington Classic S. (G2) who became an outstanding sire,
responsible for 2005 Horse of the Year Saint Liam as well as two-time champion Ashado.
Taylor’s Windfields Farm consigned Glorious Song to the 1977 Canadian
Thoroughbred Horse Society yearling sale at Woodbine, where Frank Stronach
bought her for $36,000. It was an inspired purchase, for she became Stronach’s
first exceptional horse.
Originally trained in her homeland by F.H. Loschke, the rangy bay filly
first stepped into the limelight in the summer and autumn of her three-year-old
year. After finishing a solid second to subsequent champion Kamar (Key to the
Mint) in the Duchess S., Glorious Song garnered three in a row in a virtuoso
display of versatility — the Ontario Damsel S., Belle Mahone S. and Wonder
Where S. — at distances from 6 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/4 miles, on both dirt and
turf. Her streak ended in the Nettie S., when she
faded to fourth, but she rebounded to end her year on a winning note in the Maple
Leaf S. against her elders.
Not content with racking up success in Canada, Glorious Song took her act to
California as a four-year-old. In the care of new conditioner Gerald Belanger
Jr., she lined up in the three-race La Canada series with Chris McCarron in the
irons. Rating behind a wicked pace in the series-opening La Brea S., she
closed to within a half-length of the brilliantly fast Terlingua (Secretariat),
but Terlingua held her at bay while finishing the seven furlongs in a snappy
1:20 4/5. The second leg of the series, the 1 1/16-mile El Encino S. (G3), was a
messy affair, with Glorious Song suffering interference and crossing the wire in
fourth. She was promptly promoted to third, as the stewards disqualified Terlingua for the infraction.
Glorious Song would not endure another loss to her own sex that year. For
starters, she left no doubt about her superiority in the La Canada. Again
reserved off the torrid early tempo, the Stronach colorbearer unleashed a
powerful charge to sweep into the lead and drove to an unambiguous 1 3/4-length
victory. In stopping the clock in a sharp final time of 1:47 3/5, she
comprehensively defeated El Encino winner It’s in the Air (Mr. Prospector), who
wound up third. At this point, prominent owner Nelson Bunker Hunt was impressed
enough to buy a half-interest in Glorious Song.
After wrapping up her California campaign in dashing style with another
swoop-to-conquest in the Santa Margarita H. (G1) against older mares, she was
clearly the best in the West. Just as she had left Canada to hunt for glory in
California, she now headed East to attain stardom on the New York stage. Lagging
behind the early pace in Aqueduct’s Top Flight H. (G1), Glorious Song surged to
take command in the stretch en route to a 1 3/4-length score
over Misty Gallore, another daughter of Halo who had until then been the
divisional leader in New York.
Having defeated the top females on both coasts, the big bay ventured into
male company for new challenges. In the grassy Laurance Armour H. at Arlington
Park, she closed to grab second but could not overtake her compatriot Overskate,
a two-time Canadian Horse of the Year. She then won three in a row, fighting
valiantly to secure victory by a nose in the Michigan Mile and One-Eighth H.
(G2) with Overskate more than five lengths adrift in fourth. Making a triumphant
return to Canada, she claimed the Dominion Day H. (G3) as the 123-pound
highweight, spotting males between five and 12 pounds, and the 1 1/4-mile
Canadian Maturity S. on the lawn in 2:01 3/5, just one tick off the Woodbine course
In perhaps her best-ever performance, Glorious Song boldly confronted
Spectacular Bid in the Amory L. Haskell H. (G1) at Monmouth, then an event for
three-year-olds and up. Bid was lugging 132 pounds to her impost of 117, but the filly
was actually the second highweight, giving up to seven pounds to the other males
in the field. Bid and the filly brushed near the half-mile pole before she
launched into contention four-wide on the turn, with Bid ranging up just to her
outside. Glorious Song struck the front, but Bid was breathing down her neck. In
the words of famed turf writer Joe Hirsch in the American Racing Manual,
she “closed briskly and gave ‘Bid’ a real test” before the mighty gray
prevailed. Bid edged away from her under two cracks of the whip, but the
Daily Racing Form chart gives the filly her due, noting that she “responded
willingly” to Bid’s challenge and “held on stubbornly” to go down by 1 3/4
lengths. To put Glorious Song’s achievement into perspective, only one other
horse (Flying Paster) had come this close to Spectacular Bid during his magical 1980
She ran once more that year in the Marlboro Cup H. (G1), becoming the only
Canadian-bred ever invited to that prestigious event at Belmont Park. “Closing
fastest of all,” in Joe Hirsch’s estimation, she came from far back to get
second but was no threat to the 4 1/2-length winner, Winter’s Tale. Toiling
behind her in fifth was Temperence Hill, hero of that year’s Belmont S. (G1),
Travers S. (G1) and Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1).
In recognition of her tremendous season, with six wins, four seconds and a
third from 11 starts in top company, Glorious Song was voted champion older
female. Her homeland accorded her even greater honors, naming her Canadian Horse
of the Year in addition to her divisional championship.
Brought back for a five-year-old campaign with trainer John Cairns, she did
not enjoy the same degree of success, with three wins from 12 starts, but she did manage to turn in noteworthy
performances that enabled her to repeat as Canada’s champion older female.
Glorious Song captured the Santa Maria H. (G2) toting 127 pounds, gearing down
by two lengths. In scoring her second Dominion Day H. by 5 1/2 lengths under co-topweight of 125 pounds, she established a new Woodbine track record of 1:48 for
1 1/8 miles, and her winner’s check made her the richest Canadian-bred up to her
Her last victory came in Keeneland’s Spinster S. (G1). Although the classy
three-year-old Truly Bound stole a march on her, opening up a two-length lead
into the stretch, Glorious Song overhauled her younger foe to get
up by a neck, with the rest of the field well behind. Among those in the top
pair’s wake were multiple Grade 2 victress Sweetest Chant (Mr. Leader) and
champion Heavenly Cause (*Grey Dawn II).
In her swan song, the Silver Belles H. at Hollywood Park, she
could manage only fourth. The $7,500 she pocketed for that effort, however, made
her a millionaire, the first Canadian-bred to achieve that distinction. At her
retirement, her career scorecard stood at 34-17-9-1, with 13 of those stakes
victories, and a bankroll of $1,004,534. Although Glorious Song has not
made it into the Hall of Fame at Saratoga, she was inducted into the Canadian
Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 1995.
As a broodmare, Glorious Song has excelled, and her offspring are likely to
figure as major pedigree influences for generations to come. Her most
accomplished son, Singspiel (Ire) (In the Wings [GB]), was named champion turf
horse in 1996, making Glorious Song one of an elite group of champion females to have
produced a champion. Singspiel scored Group/Grade 1 wins on three continents,
including the Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1), Japan Cup (Jpn-G1), Coronation Cup
(Eng-G1) and Canadian International S. (Can-G1). He has since become a
Glorious Song’s flashy chestnut colt by Blushing Groom (Fr), Rahy, won the
1989 Bel Air H. (G2) at Hollywood and, as a juvenile in Europe, had placed in
the Middle Park S. (G1). Rahy has likewise gone onto a successful stud career,
siring among others, 1995 champion three-year-old filly Serena’s Song, who
emulated Glorious Song by mixing it up successfully with males. He is also the
broodmare sire of hot young stallion Giant’s Causeway.
Another son of Glorious Song, Rakeen (Northern Dancer), was a South African
Group 2 victor who has become a good sire in that country. Glorious Song’s
female line also holds promise. One of her daughters, Morn of Song (Blushing
Groom), has produced 2003 Prix Vermeille (Fr-G1) heroine Mezzo Soprano (Darshaan).
After a couple of changes in ownership, Glorious Song was ultimately bought
by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum. At his Dalham Hall Stud in England,
she was put down in July of 2003 when surgery failed to ameliorate intestinal
Although Glorious Song is no longer with us, her refrain will echo through
the ages through her illustrious descendants. Indeed, it is likely that breeders
will inbreed to her by crossing her sons Rahy and Singspiel, creating the potent
Rasmussen Factor of inbreeding to a superior female. Similarly, crossing
Glorious Song’s descendants with those of her full brothers Saint Ballado or
Devil’s Bag figures to hold significant appeal.
Interestingly, several of Glorious Song’s old racetrack rivals have also
proven outstanding broodmares. Her Canadian conqueror, Kamar, was Broodmare of
the Year in 1990, and she is the granddam of 2001 European and American champion
Fantastic Light (by none other than Glorious Song’s son Rahy). Among Glorious
Song’s California foes, Terlingua produced the exceedingly influential sire
Storm Cat, and It’s in the Air became the granddam of top turf horse Storming
Home (GB) and French classic winner Musical Chimes. Jameela (Rambunctious), who
finished in a dead-heat for second with Glorious Song in the 1981 Beldame S.
(G1), produced champion and excellent sire Gulch. Glorious Song’s beaten
Spinster rival Sweetest Chant is the granddam of noted sire Distorted Humor, and
from that same race, Heavenly Cause is the dam of Two Punch, who in turn sired
champion sprinter Smoke Glacken.
At the time Glorious Song and her rivals were slugging it out, would
observers have expected all of these fillies to become stellar producers
remembered more for their offspring than their exploits on the track? As
fascinating as it is to explore the genetic ties that bind champions past and
present, we know that thread reaches not only backward through time, but also
forward into the future, and it’s a challenging enterprise to forecast the
twists and turns in that thread. Only time will tell whether our current crop of
distaffers can conceivably approach this gold standard of broodmare excellence.