Racing’s first filly millionairess was European Allez France

Some people of means collect treasured art pieces from around the world. Others with just as deep pockets tend toward sculpture or precious stones.

When it comes to the many-layered world of sports, those who desire additional notoriety sometimes move toward thoroughbred racing. They find men with decades of experience in dealing with thoroughbreds. Putting their trust in the long-term horsemen, auctions are visited or farms in Kentucky or Florida might be found with the bloodlines sought to give the would-be owner his start in racing.

The race career of the filly Allez France had such a start and such a whirl along the circuit in both Europe and America.

French art dealer Daniel Wildenstein came to America and went to Kentucky with horsemen that he trusted who had the knowledge of bloodlines and conformation and bone structure.

Wildenstein bought Allez France from the Bieber-Jacobs Stable and he returned her to France. The bay filly was the daughter of respected sire Sea-Bird and the mare Priceless Gem. Priceless Gem was herself the daughter of Hail To Reason, a much-decorated sire in America.

With Allez France in hand, art dealer Wildenstein then invested heavily in thoroughbred bloodstock and racehorses that could run in Europe in his dark blue racing colors.

In France, the first trainer of Allez France was Albert Klimscha, who guided her everyday movements for her first two years on the track.

She became the belle of French racing, even winning the ultimate event in that country — the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

At age four, she was selected as the French Horse of the Year. Winning the “Arc” that year was enough to get that award.

She had a new trainer, Angel Penna, Sr., beginning in 1974. In the first year with Penna, Sr., Allez France managed to go unbeaten.

By the close of 1975, she had already reeled off 13 wins in Europe and earned nearly $1.4 million.

She had become the first filly in thoroughbred history to earn $1 million.

When the million-dollar mark was passed, Wildenstein had reason to believe his five-year-old filly could be a force in classic turf races away from the continent and on the world of racing’s largest stages.

Wildenstein was brewing plans that included a possible trip to America. He made his ideas known to his new trainer.

Allez France was sent to America at age six. Many thoroughbreds are not at their best at age six or beyond. As it turned out, she was probably past her prime when packed off to the United States.

In the few American races Penna, Sr. prepped her for the results were not promising and there weren’t any wins.

She was given retirement at the close of her six-year-old campaign. Wildenstein sent her to the successful Lane’s End Farm just outside Lexington to begin a career as a broodmare.

While at Lane’s End, Allez France became the mother of Air De France, who himself sired 11 stakes winners.

She had ancestors named Native Dancer, War Admiral, Man o’ War, Turn-To, and Black Toney. Her on-track record was impressive. There had been 21 races in her five years on European and American turf courses. She had those 13 wins . . . but also registered three seconds and a third.

Her European awards were Champion Two-Year-Old Filly in France (1972), Champion Three-Year-Old Filly in France (1973), Champion Older Mare in France (1974 and 1975), and Horse of the Year in France (1974).

She is in the French Horse Racing Hall of Fame and also has a Group One race at Chantilly Racecourse named for her.

Her second trainer, Angel Penna, Sr., was enshrined in the U. S. Racing Hall of Fame in 1988. He was in this country when a horse he trained, Waya, won the Turf Classic and the Man O’ War Stakes in 1978.

While training in America, he won such races as the Travers Stakes, Hollywood Derby, Widener Handicap, and Gulfstream Park Handicap in addition to the Turf Classic with Waya.

His son, Angel Penna, Jr., became a successful trainer and was the New York Thoroughbred Breeders’ Trainer of the Year in 1995.

Allez France had been found by those “expert” horsemen who were helping Daniel Wildenstein make his entry into thoroughbred racing. Her success brought Wildenstein even deeper into racing.

She eventually had success in one of Europe’s most prestigious races, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. And she won 13 of 21 career races to more than give Wildenstein good reason to be happy he immersed himself in the sport.

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