Unofficial Thoroughbred Hall of Fame

Bald Eagle

Cain Hoy Stable's Bald Eagle won the Washington, D.C., International twice and earned the handicap championship in 1960. This despite the fact that the Newmarket trainer Captain Cecil Boyd-Rochfort referred to the temperamental, leggy son of Nasrullah as "that cursed horse."

Born at Claiborne Farm on March 29, 1955 and bred by Captain Harry F. Guggenheim, Bald Eagle was out of Acorn Stakes winner Siama, the dam of another Nasrullah colt, the consistent handicapper One-Eyed King, whose triumphs for Cain Hoy included the Donn, Dixie, and Long Island Handicaps. Siama's sire Tiger was known for his vicious temper, and since Siama's dam China Face is a daughter of the famous bad bay Display, one must wonder why this cross ever came to be. Furthermore, what possessed Captain Guggenheim and Bull Hancock to breed her to Nasrullah, a horse so well known for fits of temper that no vet in Kentucky would give him a tetanus shot? Yet it turned out to be an excellent cross, for despite his pedigree, Bald Eagle was never mean or dangerous, merely a bit willful, and was in fact tremendously talented.

An exceptionally leggy colt, he rapidly grew, but it seemed he would never grow into his massive frame and fill out. As a two year old, he measured 16.3 hands, and at three he surpassed the 17 hand mark.

Bald Eagle was sent to England as a yearling, and turned over to Captain Cecil Boyd-Rochfort to be brought along slowly as a classic contender. In his only race as a juvenile, he scored in the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes.

Bald Eagle continued to grow upward at three, rather than outward, and therefore still lacked maturity as a three year old. He also showed Nasrullah's tendency to lack interest in his racetrack duties. A beaten favorite in the 2,000 Guineas and then again unsuccessful as second choice at Epsom, his European career was not considered a success, despite victories in the Craven and Dante Stakes. He was returned to the United States.

The first thing he did for trainer Woody Stephens was attempt to die. Once nursed through his weeks long illness, he began training for an American campaign. As a four year old he was a much improved horse, mentally and physically.

At four, Bald Eagle showed no tendency to sulk, and in fact ran quite gamely in the Massachusetts Handicap. After a bad start, he was caught in traffic for most of the race, and once clear gave a solid effort for third.

In the Suburban Handicap he was again teamed with Manuel Ycaza, who became his regular rider, and the pair moved to the outside while turning for home and won going away. His time for the mile and a quarter was 2:01 3/5.

It appeared that three year old star Sword Dancer was the horse to beat in the Brooklyn Handicap. The young star was not on his best behavior, however, causing trouble at the start and then swerving after the break. Bald Eagle got stuck in traffic, and failed to make a strong enough run once he got clear. He was fourth behind Amerigo, while Sword Dancer ran out of ground and was beaten three parts of a length by Babu.

Next came the mile and a quarter Saratoga Handicap. The Cain Hoy horse closed fast in the stretch, catching the English bred Grey Monarch to win by a neck. Amerigo, who had the week before run second by a head in the Whitney Stakes, was third.

The field for the Aqueduct Handicap was exceptional. The sensational Hillsdale was the high weight and heavy favorite, having won nine top stakes races that year, including the Hollywood Gold Cup. He had won his last six consecutive starts. Also meeting Bald Eagle was the durable gelding Find, who had been winning handicaps since 1953 and had recently been second to Hillsdale in the American Handicap. Massachusetts Handicap winner Air Pilot, Brooklyn Handicap winner Babu, and Toboggan Handicap winner Tick Tock also went to post in a field of twelve.

Both Hillsdale and Bald Eagle laid off the pace, and when the early speed horse Silver Ship faded to last, Air Pilot briefly took command. Hillsdale moved past, while Bald Eagle freed himself of early traffic, went to the outside and gave chase. While he closed with an impressive rush, he couldn't quite catch Hillsdale and had to settle for second money. So strong was his closing drive that the Daily Racing Form chart credited Bald Eagle as "probably best" in the race.

Bald Eagle next met 1958 Horse of the Year Round Table in the Manhattan Handicap. Again he made a strong closing bid, but fell short of catching Round Table, and was second by a length.

Trainer Woody Stephens returned Bald Eagle to the turf, and after a fourth place effort in the Man o' War Stakes he went to post as one of the American representatives in the Washington, D.C., International at Laurel. Ycaza kept his mount uncharacteristically close to the pace, and this time his closing move didn't fall short. He took command just after a mile, had opened up a five length lead after a mile and a quarter, and was by no means fully extended when he cantered under the wire to win by two and a half lengths.

Bald Eagle had now proven himself to be one of the top horses of 1959, and finished the season with an easy score in the Gallant Fox Handicap. He covered the mile and five eighths in 2:41, a new track record.

When the year end awards were handed out, Bald Eagle had to take a back seat to Horse of the Year Sword Dancer. The son of Nasrullah got some votes for Best Grass Horse, but not enough to defeat Round Table.

The next season started early, in Florida. On February 7, Bald Eagle and Manuel Ycaza went to post as the favorite in the McLennon Handicap. He gave away four pounds to Calumet Farm's On-and-On, the second choice in the betting. A son of Nasrullah and the champion mare Two Lea, On-and-On had won his first two starts of the season, scoring in the Tropical Park Handicap, then beating Stratmat in the Orange Bowl Handicap.

The mile and an eighth event proved a hair short for the stretch running Bald Eagle, however, and despite a strong closing drive he failed to get by a gamely battling On-and-On before the wire. The Calumet colt, with Steve Brooks in the irons, won by a neck and clocked the distance in 1:48 4/5 on a good track.

Bald Eagle again met On-and-On in the Widener Handicap. This time, with a distance of a mile and a quarter, the Cain Hoy runner caught his rival before running out of track. In winning, Bald Eagle set a new track record of 1:59 3/5.

He again defeated On-and-On, as well as Amerigo and the previous year's Horse of the Year Sword Dancer in the Gulfstream Park Handicap, winning by three-quarters of a length despite being blocked.

In a stunning display that was perhaps his finest moment, Bald Eagle won the Metropolitan Handicap by three and a half lengths, defeating former champions First Landing and Sword Dancer and setting a new track record of 1:33 3/5 for a mile.

Bald Eagle also got the best of Champion Sprinter Intentionally in the mile long Aqueduct Handicap, was third to Sword Dancer in the Woodward Stakes, finished second in the Man o' War Stakes, and ran third behind Kelso in the Jockey Club Gold Cup.

When the Cain Hoy horse won his second consecutive Washington, D.C., International he was not only the first horse to accomplish the dual victory, but also the last, for the feat has never been duplicated.

Named 1960 Champion Handicap Male, Bald Eagle was retired with $676,442 in earnings and twelve wins, all in stakes company.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle sired only twelve stakes winners, and his two best offspring were daughters. San San won the 1972 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, and Too Bald was named Broodmare of the Year, having produced Exceller, Capote, and Baldski. Standing in France after 1971, Bald Eagle lived to the age of twenty two. He made the Blood-Horse Top 100 at the end of the century, ranking seventy-fourth.

Bald Eagle's Race Record

Year Starts Wins Seconds Thirds Earnings
Lifetime 29 12 5 4 $689,556

Bald Eagle, 1955 bay colt

Nasrullah Nearco Pharos Phalaris
Scapa Flow
Nogara Havresac II
Mumtaz Begum Blenheim II Blandford
Mumtaz Mahal The Tetrarch
Lady Josephine
Siama Tiger Bull Dog Teddy
Plucky Liege
Starless Moment North Star III
Breathless Moment
China Face Display Fair Play
Sweepilla Sweep
Camilla S.


Recommended titles include: Champions from the Daily Racing Form, Thoroughbred Champions: Top 100 of the 20th Century from Blood-Horse, and Man O' War: Thoroughbred Legends #1 by Edward L. Bowen, as well as Seabiscuit on DVD .
Seabiscuit DVD

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