Grand Fashion and a great lady

by Alan Leavitt

The mention of the 2-year-old trotting filly Grand Fashion caught my eye for a couple of reasons. I’ve had a little to do with her pedigree, but more about that later. The main attraction was the fact that she was bred and owned by Jules Siegel’s Fashion Farm.

Fashion Farm has been a major player in harness racing for decades. It was the creation of Jules and Arlene Siegel, or perhaps I should say Arlene and Jules Siegel. I’d been close to them down through the years, and I shared Jules’ sorrow when Arlene passed away in 2010. She was a wonderful lady, always gracious, smart, and blessed with a sly, subtle sense of humor that never lost too much time getting to the point. She often took the lead in picking out yearlings or selecting broodmares, and when she did, she picked well.

Together, the Siegels won virtually every major harness race, starting with the Hambletonian, which they won in 1995 with Tagliabue. Like all of their top horses, Tagliabue was trained by Jim Campbell, one of the leading trainers in our biz, much of it done with horses owned by the Siegels.

Here, an aside. The name, Fashion Farm, came with the farm property when the Siegels bought it. It was given that name by someone long ago, whose name escapes me, but he was a client of Stanley Dancer’s. He owned horses in partnership with Lou Silverstein, and he was a manufacturer of women’s clothing: Hence the use of word “Fashion” in naming his property.

Now to the filly that started all this exercise in memory, Grand Fashion. She’s by Walner, and out of Broadway Schooner, by Broadway Hall. Broadway Schooner was a champion race filly, earning $865,933. As a producer, she hit the jackpot with her second foal, the Donato Hanover filly Broadway Donna, a great stakes winner who earned $1,434,735.

The only cross close enough to be designated by name is a 3 by 4 cross to Conway Hall, which technically is described as line bred. In case you forgot, when the sum of the generations in which the same name appears twice is six or less, that is inbreeding. When the sum of the generations is seven or eight, as it is here, that is line breeding. When no name appears twice to fit either of those two terms, such a pedigree is correctly described as an outcross.

I take some pride of authorship here, because Broadway Schooner, the dam of Grand Fashion, is sired by Broadway Hall, a horse which Meg and I bred and sold as a yearling to the Siegels.

Conway Hall is another shining example of the decisive role 2-year-old racing brilliance plays in determining the future success of a potential stallion. Conway Hall was bred by Meg and me, and raced by a top trainer, Bob Stewart. He was outstanding at 2, and was voted the Champion Two-Year-Old Trotting Colt in every poll.

As a sire, Conway Hall’s influence is still felt. His son, Windsong’s Legacy, won the Hambletonian, and then from his first crop sired Lucky Chucky, who was second in his Hambletonian, and Chapter Seven, a top stakes colt who won $1,954,986.

Retired to the stud, Chapter Seven was the leading money winning trotting sire in North America in 2021, and his champions include the great mare and Hambletonian winner Atlanta, and the leading sire of 2-year-old money winning trotters from his first crop in 2021, Walner.

Finally, one last note about the horses in Grand Fashion’s pedigree.

It was a great loss to our sport when Windsong’s Legacy was struck down by a heart attack after siring only two crops of foals. He was owned at the time by Bill Perretti, and I have to confess I still occasionally miss the sound of Perretti’s roar, which was always worse than the bite. One of these days I’m expecting to hear Bill up close again, and, with luck, Arlene Seigel, not to mention a gazillion other people. And if that works out, I’ll try to write another piece for HRU, to let you know what you’re missing.

Back in Grand Fashion’s pedigree, in the fifth generation is a sire named Prakas, who won the Hambletonian in 1985. The horse was named after Mike Prakas, who was a big time bloodstock agent under the nom de course Headline Brokers. Prakas sold a lot of good horses in his day, and I bought quite a few of them.

It was a pleasant surprise, after all these years, to hear from Prakas recently. He now lives in South Florida, and I look forward to seeing him again and, as he said, reminiscing.

And speaking of people, one of these days I’d like to meet Joe and Jennifer Bongiorno. As it happens, I knew their mother when she was six years old.

I was good friends with Sonny and Sandy Dancer, and they had a heated swimming pool at their farm in New Jersey. I was also close with Sonny’s dad, Harold Dancer, Sr., who was a great horseman and a greater human being. One Christmas Eve he stayed up all night putting together all of the toys that were sitting, unassembled, under Sonny and Sandy’s Christmas tree.

My two kids, who are both in their 50s now, were under 10 during the summers we spent Sundays at the Dancer’s pool. And their six year old daughter was always accompanied by her German Shepherd, who always stayed glued to the little girl’s side. You can be sure no one made the mistake of rushing up to the little girl too fast.

I just think her son and daughter might like to know about that.