Over a century ago, George Barr McCutcheon penned a series of novels which captivated and fueled the romantic dreams of the young ladies of the day. The first of these novels, “Love Behind the Throne” was themed with magic, romance, mystery and adventure centered by a love-torn Princess and the majestic whimsy of castles and royalty. The setting takes place in a fictional Eastern European kingdom called Graustark. The hero, Mr. Lorry, a downtrodden sort of fellow, falls madly in love with a mysterious lady he meets on a train and he follows his destiny as he follows her. The scenario plays as usual - boy sees girl, boy chases girl and girl turns out to be the Royal Lady of Graustark, The Princess Yetive. Even though Mr. Lorry finally finds a way to be together with his love, he will never be allowed to be called ”His Majesty” within the Kingdom of Graustark. One might need to read the next novel of the series to see where their life and their love takes them and if they can live happily ever after as royalty together.
In 1963, Mabel Galbreath went to her brother John and asked him if he would allow her to finally name one of his new colts. The owner of Darby Dan Farms, John Galbreath, complied and from a list he had of his new yearlings, Mabel fell upon a chestnut colt fouled by a stunning mare and a famous sire. Through her love of the decades old novel, Mabel christened the new colt with the name - Graustark.
Between the years of 1963 and 1968, the great Italian Stallion and Champion Ribot was mated with the accomplished Flower Bowl on three separate occasions. They produced two sons and one daughter. The youngest son caused complications in the birthing and Flower Bowl sadly lost her life the day after his birth.
The first son was named Graustark.
The daughter was named Yetive.
The youngest was named His Majesty.
The novel lived on.
Ribot and Flower Bowl lived on.
Two of the most accomplished and famous three year olds prior to the running of the 92nd Kentucky Derby, Buckpasser and Graustark, would never enter the gates that year. This left a somewhat disappointing Derby field with the two favorites of the day both side-lined with injuries. The only one at the time who was not upset by the ill-fated events leading up to the 1966 Derby was Kaiau King who took his place and stamped his name in Derby history.
Graustark started his two year old career with 3 wins before being side-lined with an injury leaving Buckpasser with free reign to go on and compete, eventually becoming the Eclipse Award winner. After a long recuperation period Graustark then made his three year old debut with a win at Hialeah Park and continued his undefeated path with seven straight wins leading up to his prep for the showdown with Buckpasser in the Derby. The match-up between these two talented giants was much anticipated in the early months of 1966 but unfortunately, Buckpasser suffered a quarter crack and Graustark sustained a career ending injury in the Bluegrass prep race. Two of the greatest young runners of their time and neither would be given the opportunity to compete for the roses at Churchill Downs.
After another recuperation period, Graustark would be sent back to stand stud at Darby Dan Farms. Although unlucky with his injuries while racing, he was still able to rack up 7 wins and 1 place, (took second in the Bluegrass while running injured). Graustark would go on to sire 363 winners (57.5%) and 52 stakes winners (8.2%) from 631 named foals. He was a successful stallion and eventually stamped his name as a titled Classic/Solid Chef-de-Race. His presence alongside these chosen dominant sires will live on with the documented ability of passing that champion blood of Ribot and Flower Bowl to his offspring.
Five years after Graustark first stood up, his full brother His Majesty was born. He was immediately deemed precious at first breath and so important and valuable to his caretakers that he was moved to his own little paddock as a yearling. With a need for companionship, he was paired up with another young boy eventually named Good Counsel to keep him company and they remained inseparable friends until they had to move on to take care of their business. The two would eventually meet up again down in Florida some time later.
His Majesty was also unlucky and plagued with injuries throughout his 22 race career with much time spent on the side-lines. He too was an early favorite for the 1971 Kentucky Derby but he hit the rail in the Flamingo and sustained a chip fracture which required surgery. Another 9 months away from the track for this son of Ribot at precisely the time where history books are written. It seems that heartbreaking fate descends on the talented sons of Flower Bowl and hopes and dreams fade just as the mare herself faded after his birth.
After returning to the racing circuit, His Majesty took a little time to get his racing shoes back on and eventually was entered into the 10f Widener Handicap at Hialeah. Leading the pack throughout, His Majesty ticked off incredibly fast fractions and broke away with every stride. Nearing the stretch, seeming out of nowhere and from the clouds came his old pal Good Counsel and the two ran the stretch hand in hand right to the wire. The photo finish revealed that Good Counsel had his nose just passed the line and he defeated his old buddy that day in the sun. Good Counsel would go on to compete but the unlucky His Majesty unfortunately suffered yet another injury and was out of the circuit for an additional five months.
In the winter of 1973, His Majesty returned to race at Hialeah breaking the track record with his 9f win. A few months later, in the Donn Handicap, bad luck reared its ugly head for the final time as the colt suffered his final career ending injury and was sent back to rejoin his best friend Good Counsel at Darby Dan Farms.
His Majesty would go on just as his big brother and become a Classic Chef-de-race sire himself. Both would show their immense royal breeding in the ability to pass through the magnificence of their sire Ribot. The raw dominance of that bloodline and its ability to carry through generations is still being felt today and will live on through generations. What a horse does on the track in his career is usually the main conversation, but what a horse does as a sire is what keeps him running in the wind through decades. The benefits of the Champion Bloodlines of His Majesty, Graustark Flower Bowl and Ribot will continue on way passed our lifetime.
The middle sister, the unraced Princess, Yetive. She lived her days in her castle barn, making passionate love in the kingdom of Graustark with the handsome Mr. Lorry ... (and a few of His Majesty’s guards as well) leaving behind many children of her own.
And she lived happily ever after.