12/14/2017 12:18PM

Remembering Sans Supplement


Through this holiday season, I'll post updated stories from my 2002 book OLD FRIENDS, reflecting the lives of beloved senior Thoroughbreds, all of whom lived out their lives with dignity.  Seems a good time for feel-good stories, and looking through the book recently brought back memories of each wonderful subject.

Some were famous horses, names known to every racing fan; while, in other cases, they are known only to diehard fans.  And then there are those like this mare who, despite being a multiple stakes winner and dam of a champion, is a name known primarily to students of pedigree.

Sans Supplement

grey mare, May 4, 1974 - March 17, 2003, by Grey Dawn II - Tout Compris, by Tantieme (FR)

When the groom entered the barn to bring Sans Supplement outside, the 27-year-old mare was certain he was the blacksmith, dentist and vet combined.  She tried her best to keep her ample grey hind end between the groom’s leadshank and her halter. 

After several attempts, with Sans Supplement craftily moving - slowly but determinedly - another groom entered the stall.  
With only one hind end and two grooms, she was soon cornered.  She submitted grudgingly.

Sans Supplement had reason to worry.  She primarily lived outdoors, as many older pensioners do and time spent in her stall - especially combined with fussing, cleaning and primping - just wasn’t natural to her any more. 

Neither was standing politely for a portrait.  We tried for perhaps 15 minutes as she danced and fretted, and the groom decided being closer to her equine friends might help.  He moved her near her paddock but that didn’t help, as she couldn’t wait to rejoin her band of mares.  A good friend named Approver stretched a long bay neck over the fence, reaching out to her friend.  Sans Supplement nosed back, lamenting how miserable her day had recently become.

Soon after my visit, I couldn’t help but smile when reading excerpts from a Blood-Horse article about the grey's biggest win, the 1976 Alcibiades at Keeneland.  Her breeder/trainer/owner Don McKellar told Ed Bowen: “Sans Supplement is by Grey Dawn II, and Grey Dawn II’s horses tend to be hard to train.  It took us three weeks before she would go into the starting gate, but Tony just took his time, kept talking to her, and she is no problem now.” 

Tony was exercise rider Tony Garcia, and the trainer credited both he and groom Louis Twyne for her success.  Sans Supplement was such a fiery little lass that, on occasion, she needed to be tranquilized for the standard practice of applying hind shoes.  With such a filly, Tony and Louis were invaluable.

Don McKellar wasn’t happy with her progress early in her 3-year-old season and sent her to his farm near Lake Forest, Illinois - where Sans Supplement promptly broke through her small paddock’s plank-board fencing.  She was uninjured, but Mr. McKellar placed two Black Angus calves in the paddock with her for company.

Over all, the daughter of Grey Dawn II won four of her 22 starts and earned $134,224.  Two wins came in graded stakes - the Gr. 2 Alcibiades and the Gr. 3 Laurance Armour Handicap.

Sans Supplement was large with very strong bone - a look that warmblood breeders would envy.  And her name?  Her dam Tout Compris' name means, generally, “everything included”- and, on French menus, sans supplement means, roughly, “at no charge.”

After her retirement, Sans Supplement created a strong produce page as well.  Of her 12 foals, 11 were winners. One was Minamino Elegance, a graded stakes-placed Japanese runner. Another, a colt by Distinctive Pro named Big Stanley, won 9 of 20 starts including the Tropical Park Derby (G2) and earned nearly $400,000.  Another was a champion.

Itsallgreektome, her seventh foal, became her best known. The popular gray colt raced five years, winning two Grade 1s, 8 of 29 starts and $1,994,618.  He is perhaps best remembered, however, for close second-place finishes in the 1990 Breeders' Cup Mile and the 1991 Breeders' Cup Turf.  And, of course, for his unusual name.

Sans Supplement produced her last foal in 1995, living out her days as a pensioner at her longtime home, Howard and Susan Kaskel’s idyllic Sugar Maple Farm in New York.  When I visited the then 27-year-old in 2001, her final foal, a pretty gray filly named Cryptocari, resided in a paddock nearby.

Sans Supplement lived for two more years after my visit, sharing a paddock with other senior mares and standing out due to her brilliant flecked grey coat and strong build.  When people approached, her head would pop up and she'd eye them suspiciously until they got close - and then she'd shuffle just out of reach.  

When cornered, Sans Supplement did occasionally suffer the indignity of a vet, dentist or blacksmith.  But, most of the time, she was just left alone with her friends -  which was just how she liked it.