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Reel (USA)



Sire Line





Glencoe, the sire of both Reel and Pocahontas
(b f 1837), won the Two Thousand Guineas Stakes
and Ascot Gold Cup before his export to America.
He was a Leading Sire in 1847, 1849, 1850 and
from 1854 to 1858, inclusive.



Lecomte, by Boston

Prioress, by Sovereign

Starke, by Wagner

War Dance, by Lexington


An advertisement for War Dance

An advertisement for Stafford

Reel gr f 1838 (Glencoe - Gallopade, by Catton). Sire Line Selim. Family 23-b.

Reel was bred by James Jackson Sr (1782-1840) and foaled at his Forks of Cypress plantation in northwest Alabama. Her sire and dam were both bred in England. She was the third recorded foal out of Jackson's imported mare Gallopade (GB) and from the first North American crop of the great Glencoe (GB) who was purchased by Jackson in 1835 and brought to Alabama the following year. When Reel was a yearling, Louisiana turfman T J Wells purchased a half interest in her. After her breeder died but before Reel began racing the Jackson estate had divested their remaining half interest in her, ostensibly in total to T J Wells per most sources. However, his brother Montfort Wells may have had a share since the first few times Reel raced it was for both M and T J Wells.

Reel made her racing debut at Opelousas, Louisiana, Nov 12, 1841, defeating the then unnamed Earl of Margrave (br c 1838 Margrave - Margaret May, by Pacific) in consecutive two-mile heats. Taken to New Orleans (Louisiana Course) in December, she was again victorious running two-mile heats, this time in the company of older horses. There, in her third and last race of 1841, Reel won in consecutive four-mile heats, again in open company, a rather remarkable achievement at the time for a three year old filly.

Reel and her stablemate Torchlight (ch f 1837 Glencoe – Waxlight, by Leviathan) were at New Orleans for the spring meetings in 1842 but were sidelined by temporary lameness and sent back upriver to Wells' training center at "Dentley", south of Alexandria, Louisiana, for rest and recuperation. Back in form that fall, Reel was in Opelousas to take the Jockey Club Purse in a walkover. Her last race of 1842 was one that had been long anticipated.

The same spring that Reel was foaled a bay filly hit the ground, not far to the east of Forks of Cypress, at Elijah H Boardman's "Boardman's Mill" near Huntsville, Alabama. She would eventually be christened "Miss Foote" and her name and Reel’s frequently uttered in the same breath. Like Reel, both of Miss Foote’s parents were bred in England. Her sire was Boardman's imported Consol (b c 1829 Lottery - Mare, by Cerberus - Miss Newton, family 8), her dam was Boardman's imported Gabrielle (ch f 1820 Partisan - Coquette, by Dick Andrews - Mother Western, branch of family 12). First raced in the spring of 1841 the petite (14.2) Miss Foote had, by December, 1842, accumulated 11 victories from 12 starts in 4 states, running one to four-mile heats in open competition, besting many of the same competitors as Reel.

Inevitably, speculation ran high in regard to an eventual meeting of the two accomplished fillies. On the last day of 1842 they finally stepped onto the track together for a $1000 purse race, four-mile heats, at the Metarie course in New Orleans. Reel emerged the victor over her more seasoned rival in consecutive heats (7:51, 7:56-1/2), acquiring her "Louisiana Champion" title. The temporarily vanquished Miss Foote went on to resume and maintain for a few more years her habit of defeating the top cracks.

Reel apparently came out of the race with Miss Foote a bit sore, the problem first reported in the American Turf Register and Sporting Magazine (ATR) as in the foot and possibly attributable to the whisper-thin racing plates used in Louisiana at the time. She appeared to be back in form winning consecutive four-mile heats in a $1000 purse race on March 18, 1843, at the Metarie course. Eleven days later, however, at the Louisiana Course she went onto the track for what would be the last time. Approaching the finish line in the first four-mile heat, which was run at a pace approaching that set by Fashion's four-mile record, Reel broke down near the finish after coming nearly even with Fergus Duplantier's George Martin (b c 1837 Garrison's Zinganee – Gabriella, by Sir Archy). She was led "with difficulty" back to her stall, and memorialized at this abrupt sad end to her career on the turf as a mare whose name would "go down through all time as that of one of the most remarkable performers that ever figured on the American turf".

Further glory awaited Reel in the breeding shed. Between 1844 and 1860 she produced 10 colts and 3 fillies, most of whom would perform well on the turf, one of whom would become a principle in one of the legendary rivalries of the ante-bellum American turf. Taken first to the Tennessee court of the aging Leviathan, sire of her older half-sisters Fandango and Cotillion, Reel produced two sons by him and was in foal with another when she departed permanently for the Kentucky pastures of J R Gross, east of Lexington, where Wells boarded his broodmares under the supervision of James A Grinstead of Walnut Hill Farm. There she produced three daughters by Sovereign (GB) and seven more sons, two by Wagner, two by Yorkshire (GB), one by Ambassador, and the best known among them, Lecomte 1850 by Boston and War Dance 1860 by Lexington.

That Reel was ever bred to Lexington at all was a minor miracle, for during the Lecomte – Lexington rivalry Wells developed a dislike of the latter horse that Hervey would later refer to as "a bitter hatred, a deep, smouldering animosity". Four years after Lexington entered the stud good sense prevailed and Reel made the short trip to Woodburn. She may have been carrying War Dance when last painted for Wells by Troye. Wells bequeathed that portrait (shown here) to Keene Richards, who sold or gave it to Major Barak Thomas of Dixiana Farm, from whose estate it was acquired by the Jockey Club. It was not properly dated until many decades later when Alexander Mackay-Smith was allowed to examine the back of it.

Only when taken to Sovereign (GB) did Reel produce fillies. The first, Ann Dunn, died while in training at New Orleans in 1852. The second, Prioress, was sold along with Starke and Lecomte in a partial dispersal of Wells' stock. All were taken to England. There, after acquitting herself commendably on the track, Prioress produced a couple of foals but is long extinct in tail female. Only through the youngest of her daughters, Fanny Wells, does Reel live on in tail female pedigree. There she has to her credit modern classic winners in several countries.

Wells kept his horses in training in Louisiana which is how Fanny Wells, a foal of 1858, came to be there when the Civil War commenced in 1861. Return to Kentucky was unwise if not impossible but after the fall of New Orleans in 1862 so was remaining in Louisiana. Along with the rest of Wells' young stock and many of Keene Richards' horses, Fanny Wells and her half-brother War Dance were removed to Texas. T J Wells died there 15 Jul 1863 while visiting some of his stock. His horses were dispersed after the war ended in 1865. There is no record of Reel in that dispersal and no record of produce after War Dance. She most likely died in Kentucky between 1861 and 1865.
Reel Glencoe Sultan Selim
Trampoline Tramp
Gallopade Catton Golumpus
Lucy Gray
Camellina Camillus
Smolensko Mare
Notable Offspring
Lecomte (USA)
ch c 1850 (Boston - Reel, by Glencoe). Sire Line King Herod. Family 23-b. Bred by General Thomas Jefferson Wells of Louisiana and named for Wells' friend and fellow Louisiana turfman Ambrose Lecomte, he won 11 of his 17 starts, defeating Lexington, another son of the great Boston, while lowering Fashion's world record for four miles by more than 6 seconds. Purchased by Richard Ten Broeck, he was sent to race in England but was beset by a wonky leg. He died there of colic in 1857. Bred to only a few mares he sired Umpire (ch c 1857) who raced successfully in England; and an unnamed 1857 bay filly out of Wells' Edith (b f 1850 by Sovereign – Judith, by Glencoe) whose 2d dam was Reel's half-sister Fandango by Leviathan. Bred to Lecomte's half-brother War Dance and sold to Colonel George Garner of Louisiana in 1866 this unnamed daughter produced an 1867 bay filly, Lizzy G. (also spelled Lizzie G.). Closely inbred to Reel, and with an additional cross of Reel’s dam Gallopade, Lizzy G. is one of the three primary conduits of Gallopade in the contemporary thoroughbred.

Prioress (USA)
b f 1853 (Sovereign - Reel, by Glencoe). Sire Line Beningbrough. Family 23-b. She was the first American-bred and American-owned horse to win a race in England. As a two year old at Metairie, Louisiana, she ran record successive 1-mile heats in 1:46 1/4 and 1:45. She went to England as part of Richard Ten Broeck's string and there won the run off of the famous triple dead heat of the 1857 Cesarewitch. She also won the Great Yorkshire Handicap and Queen's Plates at Newmarket and Epsom. She produced six foals in the stud for Sir Lydston Newman and died while foaling in 1868.

Stafford (USA)
gr c 1845 (Leviathan - Reel, by Glencoe) Sire Line Eclipse. Family 23-b. Sold to Texas where he was a popular sire although few of his foals were ever known to Sanders Bruce, compiler of the American Stud Book. Thoroughbreds with Stafford in their back pedigree are rare, but he appears as ninth damsire of 'blue hen' matriarch of Quarter Horses, Otro Mambo (ch f 1951 Three Bars – Verna H., by Howden, family a86), a thoroughbred mare. Thus Stafford can be found in the pedigrees of QH Champions Denim N' Diamonds and Prankster CF as well as a bevy of other stellar performers and producers. Stafford's Texas advertisements are a testimony to his dam's renown, invoking her name before that of Leviathan.

Starke (USA)
ch c 1855 (Wagner - Reel, by Glencoe). Sire Line King Herod. Family 23-b. Described as a mealy chestnut standing about 15.3 hands, he was purchased by Mr Ten Broeck for $7500 after his first race at Metairie and sent to England to join his stable there. Over a three year period he won the Goodwood Stakes, the Warwick Cup, the Bentinck Memorial Plate "in a canter by 6 lengths," the Goodwood Cup, the Brighton Stakes "in a walk," and finished 2nd for the Ebor Handicap. In November of 1861 he was sold for $7000 to go to Prussia. He was sent to Austria-Hungary in 1864 where he entered the stud.

War Dance (USA)
ch c 1859 (Lexington - Reel, by Glencoe). Sire Line King Herod. Family 23-b. Foaled in Kentucky, he was brought to Louisiana as a yearling to be trained. On 23 Feb 1863 T J Wells contracted to sell War Dance to A Keene Richards for $5000 payable after the end of the Civil War. By that time Wells' horses in Louisiana had almost certainly already been moved to Texas. There from 1864 through early 1866 War Dance covered mares at the central Texas farm of Thomas F McKinney, publicly advertised as Gen. M[ontfort]. Wells' unnamed son of Lexington out of Reel. In the spring of 1866 he was taken to New Orleans. Per one source he broke down in a three mile dash there, racing under the name Gen. Westmore. He was taken shortly thereafter to Kentucky where he finished the 1866 breeding season, his name finalized as "War Dance" in Keene Richards' catalogue for that year.

In addition to the aforementioned Lizzy G., War Dance sired such outstanding daughters as Blue Grass Belle (ch f 1880), Brademante (ch f 1874), Buff-And-Blue (b f 1873), Lizzie G. (b f 1867), Vega (b f 1876), War Reel (b f 1870) and War Song (ch f 1867).
Produce Record
Year of Birth   Name, Sire Owner or Breeder
1844 ch c Lincoln, by Leviathan Gen Thos J Wells
1845 gr c Stafford, by Leviathan (Texas) Gen Thos J Wells
1846 gr c Capt. Elgee, by Leviathan (Kentucky) Gen Thos J Wells
1847 gr g Bob Green, by Ambassador (Gelded) Gen Thos J Wells
1848 gr f Ann Dunn, by Sovereign (Killed at New Orleans) Gen Thos J Wells
1850 ch c Lecomte, by Boston (Died in England) Gen Thos J Wells
1851 gr c Ashland, by Wagner (Dead) Gen Thos J Wells
1853 b f Prioress, by Sovereign Gen Thos J Wells
1854 gr c Calvit, by Yorkshire Gen Thos J Wells
1855 ch c Starke, by Wagner Gen Thos J Wells
1856 gr c Dentley, by Yorkshire Gen Thos J Wells
1858 gr f Fanny Wells, by Sovereign (M. Kelley) Gen Thos J Wells
1859 ch c War Dance, by Lexington Gen Thos J Wells

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