04/13/2011 11:02PM

Hallowed Dreams: Life in the slow lane


Hallowed Dreams
(1997 dk.b./br. m. by Malagra – Pacific’s Dream, by Brother Machree)

No doubt about it, Hallowed Dreams is one of the fastest fillies of recent times – and one of the best Louisiana-breds ever. The pride of the Pelican State won 25 of 30 races and scorched her way into the history books. She’s best remembered for winning 16 straight races – equaling the modern American record of Citation, Mister Frisky and Cigar. She also broke Personal Ensign’s record of 13 straight wins while undefeated.

Yet did you know the dark bay beauty is also the dam of three – count ’em, three – yearling fillies in 2011? That’s right. Next year, at a racetrack near you, her trio of 2-year-old daughters could face off.

PAST PERFORMANCES: Download lifetime PPs for Hallowed Dreams >>

Hallowed Dreams began her dazzling career by rattling off 16 straight. By the time she finally lost, her third-place finish in a four-horse field resulted in wild place payoffs -$76.60 and $115.20.

She set two track records, won 17 stakes and earned $740,143. The Malagra filly was favored 27 times - and in 23, including her debut, she was odds-on. She never raced past 6 ½ furlongs.

At Evangeline Downs, Delta Downs, Fair Grounds, Louisiana Downs or Lone Star, the result was the same. Among the comment lines: Opened up…not urged…clear…surged clear…complete authority…drew off…clear throughout…

While some questioned the filly staying near home – all but 3 of her starts were in her home state – co-owners Lloyd Romero and Johnny Gaspard, strong-minded and Cajun to the core, were happy right where they were.

"If horses from other states want to challenge mine, they can come here," Romero told Sports Illustrated. "Last I checked, planes flew in both directions."

When Hallowed Dreams’ right front ankle was injured in the summer of 2002, she was retired and sent to Romero’s farm near Erath to begin her second career. Although Romero initially announced she might be sent to Kentucky to be bred to Unbridled’s Song, Hallowed Dreams remained – you guessed it – in Louisiana.

Enter Gerald Libersat.  Louisiana-bred and raised, Libersat's family has lived in Abbeville for generations. His allegiance to the area is so strong that his home’s door glass is custom-cut with fleur de lis patterns. Two lawn jockeys stand vigil near the porch – one painted in his silks colors and the other in red, white and blue.

The four-time Louisiana Quarter Horse Breeders Association president cut his teeth on the nearby Quarter Horse races at Clement Hebert’s Cajun Downs, a tremendously popular but now defunct bush track. Over the years, Libersat has bought up parcels of land, here and there, all around the area.

The soft-spoken Libersat is lifelong friends with Romero and refers to him as “Mr. Lloyd.” It was with Romero that Libersat watched Hallowed Dreams’ incredible racing career, and it was Romero who offered Hallowed Dreams to Libersat as a broodmare prospect in 2008.

I say “prospect” because, although she’d already produced Thoroughbred foals, Libersat had a different plan in mind: to breed Hallowed Dreams to Quarter Horse stallions.

Hallowed Dreams’ five Thoroughbred foals to race haven’t been extraordinary. The oldest, Grand Rade, 7, still racing, has won 4 of 44 races and earned $123,124. Yet the choice of sires for Hallowed Dreams has so far been – to say the least - unconventional. Her four oldest are by the obscure Louisiana stallions Tirade, Global Mission (twice) and Valid Bidder.

Why does Libersat think Hallowed Dreams would cross well with Quarter Horses?

“I always heard from the older people in the business that a fast Thoroughbred that ran short races, well, they cross good with Quarter Horses,” he says.

And why is that?

“For speed,” he continues. “You breed them for a little more distance, too. You’ve got your (Quarter) horses that are running 250 to 300 yards and then you breed ’em to a Thoroughbred, and they can go 350 or 400 yards.”

Quarter Horse breeding…well, it’s a different game than Thoroughbred breeding. The Jockey Club allows neither artificial insemination nor embryo transplants. But the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) allows both, and a mare’s eggs can be placed in surrogate mares.

Hallowed Dreams’ eggs were placed in two surrogate mares in 2009. The resulting foals were both fillies – one born February 18, 2010 and the other two days later. One is by Game Patriot, a Grade I winner and track record holder who stood for $6,000 in 2009. The other is by Corona Cartel ($35,000 stud fee), who, according to his ranch’s website, is the “#3 All-Time Leading Living Sire.”

Hallowed Dreams also produced her very own foal in 2010, a daughter of Corona Cartel’s champion son Carters Cartel ($6,000).

While it’s common knowledge Thoroughbred sires are sometimes matched with Quarter Horse mares – Favorite Trick, Carson City, Hennessy and even Storm Cat come to mind – who knew it went the other way? Yet according to AQHA’s Cynthia Hill, Thoroughbred mares were responsible for 7,007 of the 100,322 foals in their 2010 crop.

Above:  Hallowed Dreams' yearling filly by Game Patriot (left) and her yearling filly by Carters Cartel (right)

One of Hallowed Dreams’ yearlings lives in Oklahoma, and the other two reside in Abbeville. It was there that I met them – and their famous mother – on a warm morning in late March.

First, I sat down in the beautifully decorated Libersat household to ask a few questions. Mr. Libersat, a man of few words, was polite and patient.

“Did you buy Hallowed Dreams mostly because she was fast?”

“That’s why I bought her.”

“Do many people know that you own her nowadays?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Are you proud to own her?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“How many of your broodmares are Thoroughbreds?”

“This is my first time (breeding Thoroughbreds).”

“How many people (fans) visit her each year?”

“Some people come by – perhaps 2 or 3.”

I was one, and we hopped in Libersat’s shiny pickup. First up was Hallowed Dreams’ Game Patriot filly, a wide-eyed bay with an oversized blaze. She was uncertain about posing for pictures, but with Libersat at the shank – his calm manner quieting her down – she obliged.

Another barn featured Hallowed Dreams’ Carters Cartel filly. “She’s the sweetheart of the barn,” said John Guidry, a farm employee who’s worked with horses since his childhood. He laughed while leading her out. “If I’d known (you were taking her photo), I’d have given her a hair cut.”

Comparing two fillies of the same age, who share the same mother, is not an everyday occurrence. It was fascinating. While the Carters Cartel filly seemed a bit leggier and lighter-bodied - and more relaxed - both fillies featured very impressive ‘engines.’ And both look like runners.

Last, it was off to Hallowed Dreams’ oversized pasture that she shared with other horses. Libersat’s son-in-law Kevin Broussard, also the family stables’ trainer, held Hallowed Dreams apart from the rest.

“She’s the only one that will let me catch her in the field,” he smiled, handing the leadshank to Libersat.

Libersat’s beaming face reflected heartwarming pride in his once-in-a-lifetime broodmare. And while many horses would strain to return to their equine friends, not Hallowed Dreams. She seemed to enjoy the company.

Above:  Gerald Libersat with his Louisiana pride, Hallowed Dreams.  March 28, 2011

The dark bay mare passes her days grazing peacefully, a dense canopy of leaves overhead offering shade from the Louisiana sun and lush grass underfoot providing comfort to an ankle injured nearly a decade ago.

When released, she strolled back toward her equine friends, her stride slowed by her ankle. I moved ahead to take more portraits and she eyed me with casual interest. She stopped when I approached and turned her head first one way, and then the other, for close-ups. I noticed her unusually penetrating eyes, her red sun-bleached mane, her woolly ears, and her rounded belly. After a moment, she casually continued on.

The gentle drone of countless unseen insects, and the nearly imperceptible ‘whoosh’ of the grass shifting in the warm winds, formed the background score.

It was springtime in Cajun country, and the Pelican State’s fastest mare seemed content in the slow lane.

On April 7, 2011, Hallowed Dreams gave birth to a foal by First Prize Perry (QH). It’s a filly.

 An abbreviated print version of this story will appear in the Saturday DRF Weekend section.