The Western Thoroughbred History – Ariel

Ariel was descended from a long line of champions. Once compared to the legendary Traveler by the National Quarter Horse Breeders Association, he was a successful sprinter that went on to sire several influential stallions and mares. Through his Thoroughbred sons, Ariel made a lasting impact on the western industry.

Ariel was foaled in 1925. He was by Eternal, the 1918 Co-Champion Two-Year-Old Colt, and out of Adana. Adana was a stakes-placed mare whose dam, Mannie Himyar, was a full-sister to the legendary speedster Domino. Adana was foaled in the United States and exported to France. In 1920, Adana traveled back across the Atlantic Ocean with a filly at her side. This well-traveled mare produced seven European and North American stakes winners including Celidon, Nedana and Ladana. Her most successful foal was Ariel.

Ariel at stud. Photo via Quarter Horse Record.

Ariel was an impressive horse. His breeder, Harry F. Sinclair raced the jet-black colt in the colors of his Rancocas Stable. In 1927, Ariel won the Youthful Stakes and the Saratoga Special. He also placed second in the Remsen Handicap. That year, Ariel was ranked third among two-year-olds in the United States by The Bloodhorse. Unfortunately, he was rather heavy-bodied and hard to keep sound. Ariel made just one start as a three-year-old and then retired from racing. In total, he made ten starts, won six races, and earned $31,230, the equivalent of about $490,000 today.

Ariel stood at Walter Salmon’s Mereworth Stud near Lexington, Kentucky. Despite his shortcomings, Ariel did have desirable traits. Frances Jelks told Western Horseman that Ariel “looked just like a Quarter Horse… He was dimpled all over with muscles. His disposition was wonderful.” His first foal crop included Ariel Cross, a Thoroughbred gelding out of Cross Village, by The Manager. Ariel Cross won the Fort Worth Fall Handicap, New Year’s Stakes and Rancho Santa Fe Handicap. Twelve years later in in 1944, Ariel sired Education, his most successful Thoroughbred starter. Education won the Washington Park Futurity, Hialeah Juvenile Stakes and Hawthorne Juvenile Handicap. According to Equineline, Education was a Champion Two-Year-Old Colt in 1946. In total, Education made 29 starts, won 15 races, and earned $188,698, the equivalent of about $2.1 million today.

Grey Flight, a granddaughter of Ariel, is considered to be one of the major foundation mares of the 20th century. Photo via Pedigree Online Thoroughbred Database.

Ariel is best known in the Thoroughbred industry for siring Planetoid, a stakes-winning filly who would go on to produce twelve race-winners including My Choice, No Stop and Space Flight. Planetoid’s most successful daughter, Grey Flight, won the Autumn Day Stakes and placed in the Astarita Stakes and the Frizette Stakes. Grey Flight went on to produce fourteen race-winners including nine stakes-winners. Among her offspring were Full Flight, Misty Morn, Gray Phantom, Great Era and What A Pleasure, the sire of Kentucky Derby winner Foolish Pleasure. Grey Flight is considered to be one of the major foundation mares of the 20th century.

In the western industry, Ariel is remembered for siring Piggin String, a Thoroughbred colt out of Wiggle, by Pennant. While Piggin String never made an official start as a Thoroughbred, he won numerous races against Quarter Horse company. Piggin String set a new track record at Rillito for 440 yards in 0:22.7 seconds and equaled that same record a year later. He was named AQRA Co-Champion Quarter Running Stallion in the 1943/1944 racing season and solely held the title for the 1945/1946 season. Piggin String went on to sire numerous Quarter Horse race-winners and performance point-earners including Rukin String, King Ariel and Tucson Gangway.

Photo via The Quarter Running Horse.

Other stakes winners by Ariel include Maeriel, Waxwing, Good Turn, Black Raider, Ariel Lad, Swiv, Sir Sprite, Martha Fly, Blue Yonder and Ariel Song. Air Arm, a Thoroughbred colt by Ariel and out of Armature, by Display, set a new track record at Thorncliffe Park for 5 furlongs in 0:59.60. Ariel Gazelle, the only Quarter Horse starter by Ariel, earned a Register of Merit and equaled the track record at La Mesa Park for 350 yards in 0:18.300. In total, Ariel sired 325 foals in 19 foal crops. Those foals included 262 winners, 33 black type stakes winners, and earners of $3,104,070.

Some Thoroughbred stallions by Ariel, including Air Cobra, Ariel Ace, Arrive, Black Sambo and Pondariel, sired Quarter Horses as well as Paints and Appaloosas. Notable Quarter Horses by these sires include War Ace, Hialeah Lady and Pondie. Little Ariel, a bay Thoroughbred colt by Airflame, a stakes-winning son of Ariel, is recorded as being double registered with The Jockey Club and National Quarter Horse Breeders Association as many stout Thoroughbreds were in the 1940s. Many of his get and grandget were incorporated into Quarter Horse breeding programs.

War Ace, a grandson of Ariel, was a stakes winner and sire of ROM earners. Photo via All Breed Database.

Ariel died in 1950. He proved to be a good sire of speed and left an impact on the Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse industries. Today it is possible to find Ariel in the pedigrees of Thoroughbred racehorses as well as barrel racing, cutting, roping and ranch horses. He may be several generations back, but he is there.

Sources: Equineline, Equibase, Western Horseman, American Classic Pedigrees, The Quarter Running Horse

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