More on Bonnets o’ Blue (1827)

Bonnets o' Blue by Henri Delattre

Bonnets o’ Blue, as painted by Henri Delattre

Bonnets o’ Blue, the dam of Mariner and Fashion, was bred by Col. W. R. Johnson, the “Napoleon of the Turf.” She was foaled in 1827, and is an own sister to Medley and Slender.

Medley, as the Southern Champion on the Union Course, at 3 yrs. old, won a produce match $3000 a side; and at Newmarket, beat Ariel three mile heats.

Slender won about a dozen races, chiefly four mile heats, beating Kate Kearney, Bayard, and other distinguished competitors; and on the Union Course, May, 1830, won a sweepstakes, four mile heats, $1000 each, beating Black Maria and Betsey Ransom. She, like Vanity, her dam’s sister, fell and died on the track, running against Collier, at Norfolk, after winning the 1st heat, four miles, 1830.

At the Union Course, Bonnets o’ Blue won the great produce sweepstakes for 3 yr. olds, $500 entrance, 15 subs., beating Pilot (Wild Bill), winner of the second heat, in 1:48, and five others; a memorable contest between the two named. 1831, as the Southern Champion, at the Union Course, she won a match, $5000, four mile heats, beating Goliah.

Three days afterwards she won the J. C. Purse, four mile heats, beating Black Maria and St. George. The following February, at Charleston, she won a match, $5000, four mile heats, beating the South Carolina champion, Clara Fisher, winner of the first heat in 7:45, the best time on the Course.

With her first sale for $3000, she cleared, in five races, $19,400.

In Oct. 1835, Mr. Craig having advertised his stud for sale, Mr. Gibbons applied to him to purchase Bonnets o’ Blue and Kate Kearney. Mr. C. replied that Kate K. was already sold to Mr. Biddle of Philadelphia, for $3000, but that Bonnets was for sale at $2500. Mr. G. took her at once; she was then in foal with Mariner.

Bonnets has proved herself one of the best brood mares in the country; Mr. G. was so unfortunate last year as to use Echo, own sister to Fashion, who was killed by accident; she was foaled in Feb. 1830, and was remarkably promising.

On the 26th March, ’40, Bonnets produced Yamacraw, a brother to Mariner, and in March ’41, Edith, a superb filly foal by Mr. G.’s Shadow, (a son of Eclipse Lightfoot, out of Sally Slouch, (sister of Aratus, Snowstorm, Star, Restless, and Nullifier) by Virginian,) to whom she is again in foal.

Reality, the dam of Bonnets o’ Blue, was the first discoverer of 7:40, in four mile heats, in this country; this race took place at Drummondsville, Va. To decide a wager made in this office two years since, between two Southern gentlemen, as to “what was the best race-horse, in Col. Johnson’s opinion, that he ever saw?” reference was had to Col. J., then sitting at a window in the Astor House directly opposite. Upon the interrogatory being made he replied without hesitation “Reality!”

Her race at Newmarket, Va. – then probably heavier and deeper in sand than at present – in 1816, two mile heats, when she beat Timoleon and distanced the field in 3:47 – 3:48 – 3:49, has not been equaled from that day to the present; extraordinary as was her turn of speed, it did not exceed her remarkable powers of endurance. Col. Johnson remarked in our hearing that Reality in his opinion could run two heats of four miles in 7:40 without distress!”
(The American Turf Register and Sporting Magazine (Vol. 13), January/February 1842)

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