by Becky Cohen
(first appeared in the August 2014 issue of The Equiery)
In July, the Maryland-bred champion mare Gallorette was inducted into the Hoofprints Walk of Fame at Saratoga Race Course. Still considered to be “the winningest filly ever,” Gallorette won 11 major races and was honored as the U.S. Champion Handicap Mare in 1946.
Marylanders Kitsi Christmas and her brother Edward helped to unveil the new bronze plaque commemorating the Thoroughbred’s name, year of birth, and the name of her sire and dam, along with the names of her owner, trainer, and jockey. The Christmas’ father, Edward A. Christmas, was Gallorette’s trainer throughout her entire five-year racing career.
The chestnut daughter of Preston Burch was foaled at Glade Valley Farm in Frederick in 1942. She was out of a Gallette mare named Challenger II. She was owned by William Brann until she retired from racing, when her ownership was transferred to Mrs. Marie A. Moore.
The Hoofprints Walk of Fame was created by Marylou Whitney and her husband John Hendrickson to celebrate the finest athletes who have competed at Saratoga. To date, only 32 have been inducted. Gallorette won the Wilson Stakes at Saratoga two years in a row, with a track record time of 1:35.40. In 1948 at age six, she won both the Whitney and Wilson Stakes at Saratoga. When asked about Gallorette, Marylou Whitney–who still remembers watching her race at Saratoga–exclaimed, “Gallorette was the most amazing mare!”
And she was. The Blood-Horse named Gallorette one of the Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of 20th Century, ranked as the number three female. She won or placed in 40 stakes races, most often beating the opposite sex. At the time of her retirement she held record earnings for a filly or mare, $445,535.
Gallorette won Maryland’s premiere filly race, today known as the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, but in 1945 it was known as the Pimlico Oaks. The Gallorette Handicap was first run in 1952, and was won by her daughter, Mlle. Lorette, in 1954.
Among her many honors, she was the fourth mare inducted into the National Racing Hall of Fame in 1962. In 1977, she was inducted into the Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame, and eventually into the Maryland Thoroughbred Hall of Fame.
After retirement, Gallorette went on to produce two stakes-winning fillies. Among her descendants was the 2005 U.S. Horse of the Year, Saint Liam. Eddie “Cocky” Simms, who broke Gallorette and worked with her for her trainer Ed Christmas, told The Blood-Horse, “She’s not only the greatest mare, but the greatest Maryland-bred of any sex…She had a long, tough, career as a race mare, but if the jocks would have ridden her as instructed, she would have won a million instead of half a million.”