Small and even-tempered, Gallant Bloom had a 12-race win streak

She was small. And she could get lost in a paddock full of other fillies, so common were her physical characteristics.

Her first trainer was Max Hirsch, a man whose success was mostly unparalleled and who had few peers when it came to saddling Triple Crown winners. Hirsch trained for the King Ranch and its owner Robert Kleberg Jr. for nearly 40 years.

Over the length of his Hall of Fame career, Max Hirsch never trained a thoroughbred that he liked more than the little bay filly, Gallant Bloom. Neither the elder Hirsch nor his son, Buddy (who was given his father’s responsibilities when Max passed away at age 88) ever had a thoroughbred with a more docile or agreeable temperament.

Gallant Bloom was foaled in the spring of 1966. Her progress was followed closely by both her owner and trainer Max Hirsch because she was a daughter of Hall of Fame scion Gallant Man.

Even with a close eye and attention to detail paid her by the elder Hirsch, Gallant Bloom didn’t find much success at the beginning of her two-year season. She did win a maiden special weight test in her first race. And she won again in her second try.

But her next three races were all lost without Gallant Bloom even being close to the moderate competition.

After five races and three straight losses, Hirsch was not particularly worried. He kept her schedule toward important races, even stakes.

In an allowance event, she showed both intelligence and the experience gained from the handful of races she had been in.

After winning that allowance try, Gallant Bloom was sent to the Matron Stakes, where the talented Shuvee was also entered.

Shuvee was made the betting favorite. Gallant Bloom was a relative longshot in field . . . but she gained a three-length lead and stood to write a real national story should she make her lead stand to the finish.

Shuvee ranged very close near the wire. But Gallant Bloom held firm. Hirsch increased the vigor of her training. He knew the future stakes races that he sought for her would all be run at seven furlongs or longer.

Shuvee was beaten again in the Gardenia Stakes.

Through all of her three-year-old campaign, Gallant Bloom was always better than the competition. She actually had eight races and reeled off win after win. The most-watched and most-chronicled of her 1969 successes came in the Matchmaker, Delaware Oaks, Gazelle, Spinster, Monmouth Oaks, Liberty Belle Handicap, and Post-Deb Stakes.

When 1969 was complete, she had posted 10 straight wins, counting the two she ended with at age two.

Gallant Bloom had been able to win on two surfaces, at four different distances, and at eight different tracks. She defeated Shuvee three more times. She faced highly-regarded Gamely in the Matchmaker and defeated her.

Every three-year-old filly award for 1969 was Gallant Bloom’s.

However, midway through 1969, Max Hirsch passed away. Buddy Hirsch assumed control of the entire stable. He eventually sent her out to California. Wins came there as well.

Buddy Hirsch returned her to racing in New York and other states in the East. The winning streak was finally ended with a loss in the Nassau County Handicap. A bone chip in an ankle had developed and Hirsch thought her retirement was the best route to follow.

The combined three-year race record showed Gallant Bloom had raced 22 times and had only been beaten five times. Her 16 wins were where most of her career earnings of $535,739 had been banked.

She had fulfilled the promise owner Kleberg had seen when he watched an early training session and said: “She could be the same thing in a filly that her sire, Gallant Man, was in a colt.”

The U. S. Racing Hall of Fame inducted her in 1977. Max Hirsch had been enshrined in the same Hall in 1959. And Buddy Hirsch, who would train for 50 years, joined the Hall in 1982.

Gallant Bloom had once reeled off wins in a dozen consecutive races. And she had done it while giving her handlers and caretakers only trouble-free work days because of her gentle disposition and easy-going personality.

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