Unofficial Thoroughbred Hall of Fame


The first horse owned by Christopher T. Chenery's Meadow Stud was Hildene, a $600 broodmare sired by 1926 Kentucky Derby winner Bubbling Over. On the racetrack, Hildene had earned only one hundred dollars in eight starts, but her record as a broodmare was outstanding. In addition to 1950 Horse of the Year Hill Prince and 1958 Two Year Old Champion First Landing, Hildene produced Third Brother, stakes winner of $310,787, and Satsuma, the dam of Cicada.

Hildene's bay granddaughter was considered by many to be the best horse to carry The Meadow's blue and white silks until Chenery's daughter Penny campaigned Riva Ridge and Secretariat to stardom in the early 1970's.

Cicada was sired by Bryan G., a son of Blenheim II who had won the Pimlico Special, the Westchester Handicap, and two runnings of the Aqueduct Handicap for Chenery. Bryan G.'s runners earned $83,180 the year Cicada was foaled, which was well short of the $1,434,543 earned by runners sired by Nasrullah that year. Cicada was by far his finest offspring, but he did get a number of stakes winners, including Copper Canyon, winner of the Pan Zareta Handicap.

Cicada, foaled May 7, 1959, was trained by Casey Hayes, who had conditioned many horses for Chris Chenery, including Hill Prince, First Landing, and Cicada's stablemate Sir Gaylord. Like all horses trained by Hayes, Cicada began her career early, racing for the first time on February 23, 1961, at Hialeah. Despite being bumped, she was the easy winner, scoring by four and a quarter lengths.

She raced twice at Gulfstream Park, finishing third in allowance company, then winning by a nose, before facing stakes company for the first time in May.

Steering difficulties contributed to a third place finish in the Fashion Stakes at Aqueduct, but after a three length romp in an allowance race she scored her first stakes victory, going wire to wire to win the Blue Hen Stakes by five and a half lengths.

Cicada next ran a game second in the Polly Drummond Stakes, then won the National Stallion Stakes, beating Batter Up by a length and a half.

Batter Up got revenge the next time out, beating Cicada a length in the Colleen Stakes at Monmouth Park. Cicada then ran third in the Astoria Stakes, tiring behind Polylady and Batter Up.

By the time Cicada went to post for the Schuylerville Stakes at Saratoga, she had already raced ten times and won five starts. She had finished second twice and third three times, but was yet to run out of the money.

With the Schuylerville Stakes, in which she beat Batter Up by a length and a half, Cicada began a winning streak that continued through the rest of the season.

She won the Spinaway Stakes by a neck, gamely holding off Pontivy in the final strides. With Bill Shoemaker in the irons for the first time, she defeated Jazz Queen by three and a half lengths in the Matron Stakes. Pontivy was third.

Cicada then successfully gave away weight to the successful filly Firm Policy in the Astarita Stakes, winning by a head in a tough finish.

At equal weights, Cicada again bested Firm Policy in the Frizette Stakes, then finished off the season with a ten length romp in the Gardenia Stakes. Her earnings for that season totaled $384,676, a record for a juvenile distaffer, and she was named Champion Two Year Old Filly.

After winning her season debut in February, beating the good mare Seven Thirty by three and a half lengths, Cicada ended her seven race winning streak with a second place finish in the Columbiana Handicap against older fillies and mares.

In the third start of her three-year-old career, the young filly bounced back and handed defeat to the five-year-old Coup d'etat. In the Florida Derby, the good colt Ridan was hard pressed to beat her to the wire. Beaten only a nose by Ridan, Cicada was six lengths ahead of third place finisher Admiral's Voyage. Had she not bore out, the story might have been different.

Stepping back into her own division, Cicada won the Oaks prep by four lengths and was pointed at the Kentucky Oaks, while Chris Chenery and Casey Hayes aimed Sir Gaylord at the Kentucky Derby.

On Friday morning, the Eve of the Derby, Sir Gaylord went out for a final blowout. All eyes were on the Derby favorite when he bobbled slightly, almost imperceptibly. Writer David Alexander was standing near Hayes:

"I looked at his face when Sir Gaylord took a wrong step, and I thought of a photograph I had seen in some magazine of a Frenchman weeping while Hitler's legions entered Paris. The Frenchman's face was unforgettable, and Casey's face was just as memorable at that stricken moment."

Some consideration was given to running Cicada in the Derby in the colt's place, since she was entered, but Chenery chose not to alter the filly's schedule this late in the game, and that afternoon Cicada won the Kentucky Oaks by three lengths, leaving the following day's Kentucky Derby to Decidedly. Florida Derby winner Ridan ran third as the favorite at Churchill Downs. Sir Gaylord, it turned out, had cracked a proximal sesamoid, and was retired. At stud, he sired Sir Ivor, the American bred winner of the 1968 Epsom Derby.

Cicada won the first two legs of the New York Racing Association's recently established filly Triple Crown, easily scoring in both the Acorn Stakes and beating Firm Policy by a length in the Mother Goose Stakes, but she failed in the Coaching Club American Oaks, running second to Bramalea, a filly from Darby Dan Farm.

Cicada was again upset in the Delaware Oaks, and although she avenged one loss by beating both Coaching Club American Oaks winner Bramalea and the older champion Primonetta in the Delaware Handicap, Seven Thirty got her head in front at the wire and Cicada had to settle for second money. It took two more losses, to Firm Policy in the Alabama Stakes and to Jaipur in the Travers Stakes, before the filly was given a rest.

After five weeks off, Cicada came back to meet her previous conquerors Firm Policy, Bramalea, and Seven Thirty, as well as Primonetta, in the Beldame Stakes, and answered the challenge with a new American record of 1:48 1/5 for a mile and an eighth. She followed that effort with a five and a half length romp in the Jersey Belle Stakes. Once again, Cicada was named Champion of her division.

At four, Cicada scored by a length and three quarters in the Columbiana Handicap and ran second to champion Old Hat in the Suwannee River Handicap in her first three starts, although she pulled up sore in the Black Helen Handicap.

Cicada won Aqueduct's Distaff Handicap by four lengths as the highweight, then drifted out in the Top Flight Handicap, costing herself the race.

The Meadow's star filly next beat Bramalea in the Vagrancy Handicap by three and a half lengths while giving her seven pounds. She carried 128 pounds over the turf to a win in the Sheepshead Bay Handicap, and then finished second in the Delaware Handicap when her saddle slipped.

After injuring a stifle, Cicada was sent to The Meadow. She became the first filly to be named champion at two, three, and four years of age. She was bred, but did not take in 1964, then finished fourth in an attempt to return to the races at the age of five, and was permanently retired with earnings of $783,674. Her first foal, Cicada's Pride, won Belmont Park's Juvenile Stakes in 1968. Cicada entered the Hall of Fame in 1967, and passed away in 1981. She was one of four Meadow Stud horses included on the list when Blood-Horse ranked the top one hundred thoroughbreds of the twentieth century.

Cicada's Race Record

Year Starts Wins Seconds Thirds Earnings
Lifetime 42 23 8 6 $783,674

Cicada, 1959 bay filly

Bryan G. Blenheim II Blandford Swynford
Malva Charles O'Malley
Wild Arum
Anthemion Pompey Sun Briar
Sicklefeather Sickle
Satsuma Bossuet Boswell Bosworth
Flying Gal
Vibration II Sir Cosmo
Hildene Bubbling Over North Star III
Beaming Beauty
Fancy Racket Wrack
Ultimate Fancy

Recommended titles include: Champions from the Daily Racing Form, Thoroughbred Champions: Top 100 of the 20th Century from Blood-Horse, and Man O' War: Thoroughbred Legends #1 by Edward L. Bowen, as well as Seabiscuit on DVD .
Seabiscuit DVD

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