On Sickletoy and the origin of Sickle’s Image

“Find a man who has bred horses and you’ve found a game guy. Locate one responsible for a one-in-a-million-shot mating that hit the jackpot and you must be talking with L. E. “Buck” McClellan.

He suggested the union of Sickletoy and Ariel Image, from whence originated Sickle’s Image, earner of almost $400,000 for Clarence Hartwick, and recognized as an outstanding race mare.

McClellan is now campaigning at Charles Town. It has been some time since he’s had a thoroughbred of Sickletoy’s ability.

After a successful racing career, during which he returned slightly less than $25,000 on an initial $3500 investment Sickletoy was installed at stud at McClellan’s 60-acre farm at Hicksville, Ohio, near the Indiana border.

As is the case quite often when trying to “make” a stallion, McClellan offered free services. At that time, as he explains it, “I was friendly with Hartwick. We had raced against one another. In fact, he had claimed a horse from me, and, later I got the horse back the same way. Anyway, he had a mare named Ariel Image. She had broken down in the fall of 1946, a few months after Sickletoy had gone wrong. In a way it is rather odd. They both broke down in New England, at different tracks, and then were brought together in Ohio.”

Sickletoy was bred to only two mares that first season 1947, and the remarkable fact is that, against almost overwhelming odds – a 1-to-1,000,000-chance – came Sickle’s Image, a very well-named animal since she favors her defunct sire in conformation.

After the death of his breeder, Joseph E. Widener, the then 2-year-old Sickletoy was along with other stock of the sportsman, offered for sale. Sickletoy was a son of Sickle – Way About [sic] by Fair Play. At the time McClellan was training for partners Rice and Goshen. They bought Shuffle, Watercolor, Glance About and Sickletoy for $12,000 estimating the latter at $3500.

As a three-year-old in 1944, he won seven of 12 starts then with the war blackout of the sport in 1945 journeyed to Mexico City. One of his best efforts there was in the $25,000 added handicap De Las Americas, in which he was fourth to Gay Dalton.

Subsequently he came back to the United States, broke down in 1946, begot Sickle’s Image and had to be destroyed in 1949.” (Walter Haight / The Washington Post, 03/07/1954)


Despite the above article listing Sickletoy’s death occurring in 1949, the Jockey Club reports his year of death as 1950. Sickletoy, a half-brother to Bolingbroke (Equipose), Thataway (Polynesian), and Whiffenpoof (Bull Dog), would sire only two registered foals prior to his death.

In addition to the aforementioned Sickle’s Image, Sickletoy would also sire the colt Sickle Star (o/o Vickie Vee by The Code), who following a seven-year race career (1951-1957) would retire with a record of (68) 4-9-2 and $4,725 in earnings. Sickle Star would sire no registered foals.

Sickle’s Image would race for five years (1950-1954), retiring with a record of (73) 27-13-16, two track records, a multitude of stakes, and $413,275 in earnings. Like her sire, Sickle’s Image would only produce two registered foals, both by the Sir Gallahad (FR) stallion Roman: Roman Image (1956 br. f) and Thirty Romans (1957 b. c.).

Thirty Romans would race for three years (1960-1962) and retire with a record of (32) 2-3-4 and $7,737 in earnings. He would enter the stud upon retirement, siring 118 foals, of which he had 96 starters and 69 winners (5 stakes winners) totaling $4,494,960 in earnings. Two of his most noteworthy progeny were the Louisiana-bred champion fillies Lil’ Liza Jayne (Louisiana-bred Champion 2-Year-Old Filly of 1977 and Champion 3-Year-Old of 1978) and Sassy Bee (Louisiana-bred Champion 3-Year-Old Filly of 1973 and Co-Champion 4-Year-Old and Up of 1975).

Roman Image would race for three years (1958-1960), set a track record at River Downs, and retire with a record of (31) 6-3-2 and $13,165 in earnings. Upon retirement, she would enter the breeding shed, ultimately producing the seven foals listed below:

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Ad for Gunflint courtesy of sporthorse-data.com.

Gunflint (1963 (Mar. 16) b. c. by Rough’n Tumble)
-Bred in Florida by Frances A. Genter.
-Selling for $59,000 as a 2-year-old in January 1965, Gunflint became the highest priced colt ever sold at the Florida Breeders’ Sales vendue at Hialeah.
-Raced for 4 years (1965-1968), retired with a record of (28) 5-3-4 / $105,735.
-1st Kent S. (8.5f,DEL), 2nd Garden State S. (8.5f,GS), 3rd Hibiscus S. (7f,HIA)

Retired to Ocala Stud in Ocala, FL, Gunflint would sire 285 foals, of which he had 242 starters and 208 winners (19 stakes winners) totaling $6,309,479 in earnings. His chief earner was the outstanding filly Miss Musket, winner of the Santa Susana S. (8.5f,SA), Santa Ysabel S. (8.5f,SA), Fantasy S. (8.5f,OP), and Hollywood Oaks (9f,HP), who despite her stakes accomplishments ultimately became best known for her match race that wasn’t against Chris Evert at Hollywood Park in 1974.

Sickle’s Shadow (1964 (Mar. 17) dkb/br. f. by Rough’n Tumble)
-Unraced; bred in Florida by Frances A. Genter.
-Did not produce her first foal until the age of ten. Ultimately produced four registered foals: Sonex (1974 c. by Son Excellence), Rough n Ready (1980 c. by The Real McCoy), Determined George (1982 c. by Determined King), and Spanish Shadow (1988 c. by Spanish Hind (IRE)).

Unnamed colt (1966 (Apr. 4) ch. c. by Rough’n Tumble)
-Bred in Florida by Frances A. Genter.

Silver Image (1967 (May. 17) gr. f. by Native Charger)
-Bred in Florida by Frances A. Genter.
-Raced for 2 years (1970-1971), retired with a record of (11) 0-0-0 /$555.
-Did not produce her first foal until the age of eleven. Ultimately produced two registered foals: Silverbluff (1978 c. by Big Bluffer) and Silver Khartoum (1985 f. by Khartoum).

Real Image (1970 (Mar. 19) b. c. by In Reality)
-Bred in Florida by Frances A. Genter.
-Raced for 3 years (1973-1975), retired with a record of (22) 4-4-1 / $25,200.

Real Dream (1971 (Apr. 10) ch. f. by In Reality)
-Bred in Florida by Frances A. Genter.
-Raced for 1 year (1973), retired with a record of (4) 1-1-1 / $3,530.
-Produced no foals.

Unnamed colt (1972 (May 12) ch. c. by In Reality)
-Bred in Kentucky by Thoroughbred Breeding Corp.

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