Looking backward to see the future

by Alan Leavitt

The moment I was informed that a mare named Always Be Deo was soon to arrive here at the farm, I compulsively went to Pathway and ran her five generation pedigree. She’s by Always B Miki, and out of Lisjune, by Camluck, a very nice pedigree, indeed.

But what struck my eye as I looked at the five generations of Always Be Deo was her fourth dam, a mare named Bret’s Romance, who was by Bret Hanover, and out of Knight’s Embassy, by Knight Dream.

I still have a vivid memory of the night at the Tattersalls Winter Sale when I watched Earl Teater buy Knight’s Embassy for $2,300. For those unfamiliar with the show horse world, Teater was the greatest saddle horse trainer who ever lived. He worked for Francis Dodge, later Francis Van Lennep, and his masterpiece was the incomparable five-gaited stallion, Wing Commander.

Francis Dodge had bought Castleton Farm in 1947 and turned it into a powerful force in both the standardbred and saddle horse worlds. She put her own name into the record books in 1940 when she rode Greyhound to a new world record of 2:01 ¾ for trotters under saddle.

For the early part of my life, up to the time I had to start making a living, to be exact, I was a small part of the show horse world. During those days Teater, with the Dodge Stable horses, dominated the horse shows. To me, he was a god.

Later, when I was old enough, I sought out his company every chance I got. There were always other people present, and I never said a word, just making a mental note of every syllable Teater uttered.

Once someone asked him if riding his world champion walk trot mare, Meadow Princess, was as exciting as it looked. Teater shot that down when he answered, “About as exciting as kissing your sister.”

When another fool made the mistake of asking how old his perennial champion mare Lover’s Lane was, Teater rasped, “Old enough to sleep by herself.”

Then there was the time that Sally Wheeler, of the St. Louis Anheuser Buschs, showed up at the Washington National with her very large, very fierce dog on one side and a new guy on the other.

There was a lot of chatter about what it all meant, until Teater laid the subject to rest, by pronouncing, “That big damn dog is mighty friendly with that guy.”

Sure enough, soon after they were married; Sally, the new guy, and that big damn dog.

But back to Always Be Deo, and her fourth dam, Bret’s Romance. By 1974, I was a full-fledged horse breeder, and I never missed a sale at Tattersalls, the Lexington sale barn that’s now a fast food burger joint.

Although I hadn’t shown a horse for more than 10 years by then, I still regarded Earl Teater with total reverence. While he was still on the show circuit, and still winning more than his share, he also now had a small band of standardbred broodmares. Every fall he’d sell five or six yearlings with the Castleton consignment.

So I was watching him that night at the Tattersalls Winter Sale when he bought Knight’s Embassy for $2,300. For me, she was an okay pacing mare who had already produced at least eight foals, but nothing special.

Knight’s Embassy was by Knight Dream, who as a racehorse became the first 2:00 3-year-old pacer when he won the first heat of the Jug in 2:00 flat. He then took the trophy for the Gray Brothers when he won the second heat, just a few ticks slower.

Knight Dream went on to be a successful sire at the Shoe Farms, although he never got a son or grandson who could keep the line alive. Interestingly enough, Nibble Hanover, Knight Dream’s sire, was the only horse ever to sire both a Little Brown Jug pacing winner, in Knight Dream, and a Hambletonian trotting winner in Miss Tilly.

What I missed at the time about Knight’s Embassy was that no matter whom she was bred to, every one of her foals made it to the races and took a record. That included two by New Discovery, a horse I had never heard of before, and never have since.

Her dam was Miss Reed, by Bert Abbe, owned by Arthur Brown, who by day operated the ABC Freight Forwarding Co. (Boy, couldn’t we use his expertise today.) Every horse he bred had the word freight in its name, and his masterpiece was ABC Freight, the world champion 2-year-old trotter who then achieved immortality by siring Garland Lobell.

Although I saw nothing special about Knight’s Embassy, Earl Teater did. Then again Teater could see things about horses that ordinary mortals like me couldn’t. So he bought Knight’s Embassy for cheap, took her back to Castleton, and bred her to Bret Hanover.

The result of that mating was a filly Earl and Carrie Teater named Bret’s Romance. And all Bret’s Romance did was become a foundation mare for one of the most successful families in our business today. Horses such as I Luv The Nitelife, Lis Mara, and Albert Albert, all millionaires, are just a few of the champions who directly descend from Bret’s Romance.

Always Be Deo is just the latest generation of valuable mares to descend from the family Earl Teater started, and she surely won’t be the last.

And if you’re wondering how old Always Be Deo is, I’ll be glad to tell you, she’s old enough to sleep by herself.