|Beretta - 6 months of age|
As much as I love all my dogs, Beretta is probably the finest one that I have bred, at least with regards to conformation. Running a close 2nd is her Uncle Banner. Glory, her dam, most definitely produced better than herself. It is right & proper to mention the other half of Beretta's genetics, her sire: Lux, Fr & US Ch Denetorn des Legendes du Moyen Age.
|Aged 4 months|
Other reasons for using Denetorn included, in no particular order, his availability to be bred to Glory, a bitch without a "fashionable" pedigree in show circles. Many, many stud owners were contacted prior to Rachel Martin (Denetorn's owner) and I reaching an agreement. Most rejected my advances on no basis other than her pedigree, which is 1/2 racing blood. She was rejected sight unseen, for the most part and some of those rejections were just downright nasty. One such example from a noted breeder who was most admired at one time,
"I've never seen a 1/2 & 1/2 bitch worthy to be shown, let alone bred."
|Three Generations: Abbey, Beretta & Glory|
Of the great Malka, Dennis McKeon related this story of Downing's 1978 American Derby win. The story is reprinted here with permission from the Grey2K Lies blog.
"These are my personal recollections of Downing's Amercian Derby win.....
And guys...I remember Downing's American Derby .....he was a prohibitive favorite....after making the switch to the other side, he had literally run away and hid from the best dogs that the country's elite kennels might offer up as competition---or as sacrifice----it hadn't really mattered..........
He was a sharp breaker, and an astonishing turn runner-----and though nearly 80 lbs, and as long as the Kansas horizon is wide----he could literally run "under the rails"....and accelerate into, through and off the turns----and if, by some stroke of serendipity, you found yourself ahead of him, on the rail and in his way----he would put you over the rail to take his line.
So the ONLY way he could lose, was if he broke down, or if he missed his break.....and you know what?...... he missed his break----missed it by a mile....and he came out with his nose in the dirt, stumbling---nearly falling----and the entire field easily out-trapped the fast-trapper. There was a collective gasp from the incredulous crowd. Luckily, the 2 lane had not quite closed up on him. Gifted athlete that he was---in the blink of an eye---he somehow, miraculously, managed to right himself----and exploded through the hole which had remained open to him.
He had seized the lead before they even hit the turn, and drew off to a commanding advantage as he poured it on---like a soundwave.... through the stretch, around the curtain turn, and past the toteboard-----his speed was enthralling, unlike anything I had ever witnessed----it thumped right through your chest, and took your breath away... like the music of a runaway locmotive......yet due to his early miscalculations and exertions, he was pretty much spent at the top of the lane....all alone.......and all done.....
He had lost his action, and his stride was shortening with each diminutive leap forward...and at precisely that most desperate of moments----that sobering, split-second before the shattering of every illusion---- the great stayer---Malka---had begun to uncork her prodigious run.....which was as deep as the Pacific...and at once, as powerful and unfathomable.
The insurmountable lead was shrinking fast now, to about 6 lengths entering the final straight---- and Malka appeared to have caught the jetstream itself, as she zeroed in on him----with Downing laboring mightily, just to keep a straight line----the deafening roar of the 12,000 or so spectators, who had come to see a legend ...in his own and their own time... lent an air of unreality to the whole, desperate spectacle...
And time itself had become glacial, as it passed...as they played out that age-old struggle.....and... with the one, impossible, outrageous, colossal surge ---Downing lunged for the wire....the ghosts of Real Huntsman, Oklahoman and On the Line were awakened from their eternal reveries by the sheer genius of it.....to rightly bear witness to this galvanizing moment, for once and for all time ... as Malka, a burgeoning, bursting tidal wave now ----bore down on him, cresting, from mid-track to his flank.... closer and closer she rolled.....
That he managed, somehow, to hold on---by a dissipating 3/4 of a length or so---was the true measure of his faultless courage and his supernatural greatness....Malka was past him a couple of jumps after the wire, and clear by 3 as they ran up to the curtain.
It was the only moment in his life---the very instant when he had actually grasped his immortality----- that he had ever appeared to be mortal ."