|*BASK++ (Witraz x Balalajka) was born February 9, 1956 at Albigowa State Stud in Poland. He arrived in an age when Poland was still rebuilding after the devastating effects of World War II and while Arabian breeding as a state-funded project was still being greatly debated in that country. His sire, WITRAZ, (Ofir x Makata) was a bay stallion born in 1938, a war-baby who managed to survive not only the war, but capture by other nations who were ready to take any horse they could catch back to their borders. *BASK'S dam, the grey BALALAJKA (Amurath-Sahib x *Iwonka III #3937) born in 1941, who, along with her daughter ARFA, were the only remaining survivors of the war from the entire Krasnica Stud breeding program. This sweet and silky-coated mare was considered to be the most valuable of all the beautiful mares at Albigowa Stud after the war.|
*BASK++ began his race training in Poland at the age of two. He remained in the racing
program for a full four years. Out of 40 races, he placed first eight times, second seven
times and was third seven times. While not a top racer, his presence on the track kept him
from being sold to a circus, or from going to a less prestigious stud where he might have
been used to upgrade the local farm horse stock. It was not until he reached the age of
six that he was sent back to the stud to be evaluated. Since the Albigowa State Stud had
been disbanded, *BASK++ was sent to Janow Podlaski Stud instead.
|That move nearly spelled the end for *BASK++. Janow already had many good sons of Witraz at stud, plus sons of Wielki Szlem, whom the Poles considered to be far better looking than the Witraz offspring. *BASK++ was viewed by the officials as having a large, but pretty head, long legs but a shallow chest and a rather immature air about him. There was no doubt he had plenty of animation and spirit, but was it enough to allow him to continue at the stud as a stallion to be used on purebred mares was the question.|
|The question, fortunately, was never answered by the Janow officials. Dr. LaCroix and Mr. Howard Kale, with their teenage sons, were the first Americans to visit the Polish studs since the war had arrived to take a look at exporting some of the famed Polish stock for their own breeding programs back home. Dr. LaCroix and his son, Gene, agreed, one look at *BASK++ was all it took. In an effort to hide his choice, Dr. LaCroix returned to his home in Scottsdale after putting *BASK++ as 18th on his list of 20 or so horses that he and others from the USA were interested in purchasing. Since the Poles were more than willing to sell, the deal was quickly completed, although it would be some months before the horses would arrive in the United States. Despite the delays and the anxiety, one thing remained steady in Dr. LaCroixs mind*BASK++ would be arriving.|
|The Transatlantic trip was made by cargo ship which encountered some of the worst weather imaginable, with 80 foot waves crashing against the ship for days on end. For at least ten days the horses that made the trip (*Naborr included) were neither fed nor watered. Other than a case of colic, *BASK++ came through it fine, although he had lost about 100 pounds. But despite the long journey, he was as charged up and ready for anything as he ever was. After his arrival in the United States, quarantine, and a train trip to Scottsdale, *BASK++ finally was home. It was mid-March 1963.|
Within days he was being put to mares, and the following year saw *BASKS first
foals. The LaCroixs were ecstatic over the quality of those foals.
It was 1964 now and *BASK++ was ready to begin his career as a show horse. His first show was, appropriately, the show in Scottsdale. Without trouble, the Polish-bred stallion won not only Champion Stallion honors, but received the Championship in Park (3-gaited), also. These honors earned *BASK++ his picture on the March 1964 issue of Arabian Horse World. Later that year, he was shown at the US Nationals, were he went Top-Ten in Park and received the title of Champion Stallion. It was not until the following year (1965) that *Bask++ won his Championship in Park. He was the first horse to win National Championships in both halter and performance. In only four shows, *BASK++ had qualified for his Legion of Merit.
Continuing his show career into 1966, *BASK++ again won the championship in the Park class
there. After that he was trained to drive and, in 1967, he won Reserve Champion at the US
Nationals in both Formal Driving and Formal Combination.
With that list of impressive wins behind him, *BASK++ retired from the show ring and concentrated on the serious business of putting foals on the ground. Of the 1,045 purebred foals that he sired, many were to mares he bred to more than once. In fact, some mares produced five or more foals by *BASK++.
was the heyday of Arabian breeding, showing and selling. Horses sold for phenomenal
prices, and it was well-known that *BASK++ alone was responsible for putting Lasma on the
map. His get and grand-get were coveted like precious gems and many people felt they had
arrived if they owned a *BASK++ son, daughter or grand-get of the famous
*BASK++ died at home in Scottsdale on July 24, 1979. This was while the Canadian Nationals were being held. His daughter AMBRA won the Canadian National Park Horse championship the next day. Her rider, Gene LaCroix said, we did it for *BASK++
*BASKS stall at Lasma remained empty. No other horse could ever take his place.
1964 Scottsdale Champion Stallion
1964 Scottsdale Champion Park (3-gaited)
1964 US National Champion Stallion
1964 US National Top-Ten Park
1965 Spokane Reserve Champion Park
1965 US National Champion Park
1965 Legion of Merit
1966 Scottsdale Champion Park
1967 US National Reserve Champion Formal Driving
1967 US National Reserve Champion Formal Combination
went from $500 in 1963 to $10,000 in 1975
SIRE OF: 1,045 purebred foals and one Half-Arab
*Bask's only Half-Arabian foal
by Kristin Berkery
In the 20 years since *Bask's death, a new crop of owners have entered the Arabian community hungry for knowledge. They may not know much about *Bask himself, but there's a good chance they're familiar with his descendants. This retrospective look at *Bask's life is intended to provide newcomers with a basic education in breed history.
There are a number of distinctions that have set *Bask apart from other influential stallions in the breed. With 1,046 registered purebred get, he was the leading sire of Arabians for several years after his death. *Bask was also one of those rare U.S. National Champion Stallions to sire a U.S. National Champion Stallion. In addition to his national halter title, *Bask was named U.S. National Champion Park, U.S. National Reserve Champion Formal Combination, and U.S. National Reserve Champion Formal Driving. And last but certainly not least, *Bask left behind an impressive siring record that includes close to 500 champions, of which nearly 200 are National winners.
Foaled in February 1956 at Albigowa State Stud in Poland, *Bask was the youngest of nine foals by Witraz (Ofir x Makata) and out of Balalajka (Amurath-Sahib x *Iwonka III). (*Bask's older full sister, Bandola, was so famed for her beauty and exceptional offspring that she was called "The Queen of Poland.")
*Bask was the result of a breeding program that mainly focused on producing horses with substance and stamina that could be used to upgrade the local work horses. Poland, still recovering from the trauma of World War II, was forced to limit the number of Arabians at its state-run breeding facilities and therefore had to sell many horses to Polish farmers and circuses. For this reason, *Bask was not used at stud in Poland but was fortuitously sent to the racetrack for four years instead of being sold into obscurity. His career as a racehorse was not overly impressive -- his racing record was 40(8-7-7) -- but he proved to be a satisfactory runner and retired sound.
After leaving the racetrack at age six, *Bask went to Janow Podlaski State Stud in Poland because his birthplace, Albigowa, had been closed. *Bask was not highly regarded at Janow because of his immature looks and the high number of Witraz sons available for breeding at that time. The decision-makers at Janow instead preferred the sons of Wielki Szlem (Ofir x Elegantka) for their type and proven racing ability, so *Bask was not used.
Not long after *Bask was sent to Janow, Dr. Eugene LaCroix and his son Gene went to Poland with the specific goal of purchasing quality stock that would serve as the next step in their breeding program. The LaCroixes had several broodmares back home in Arizona (primarily of American and Crabbet bloodlines) and were looking for an outcross stallion to breed to them. When six-year-old *Bask was presented to Dr. LaCroix and Gene, the two instantly knew they'd found the stallion they were searching for. They were careful to contain their excitement so no one would know just how much they liked *Bask.
*Bask was purchased by the LaCroixes and imported to the United States with 19 other horses in 1963, including future U.S. National Champion Mare *Dornaba (imported for the Kale family), her sire *Naborr (imported for Anne McCormick), and several mares that would eventually be bred to *Bask. In 1964, *Bask's first foal, a colt named Firebrand (x Lakshmi), was born and he was followed shortly by eight other *Bask offspring that year. *Bask also made his first big show ring appearance at Scottsdale in 1964 where he was named Scottsdale Champion Stallion and Champion Park. He was shown a second time that year at the U.S. Nationals, earning the titles of U.S. National Champion Stallion and U.S. Top Ten Park.
The following year, *Bask returned to the U.S. Nationals and was crowned National Champion Park, which made him the first U.S. National Champion Stallion to also have a U.S. National Championship in performance. (These wins earned him his Legion of Merit in 1965.) At Scottsdale 1966, *Bask was again named Scottsdale Champion Park, and at the 1967 U.S. Nationals, he won U.S. National Reserve Championship titles in formal combination and formal driving. If there were ever any doubts about *Bask's athletic ability and show ring flair, his performance wins put them to rest.
*Bask was retired to stud after the 1967 U.S. Nationals with 86 registered purebred foals on the ground. Over the next 12 years he sired nearly 1,000 more foals, many of them destined to make their mark in the show ring, on the auction block, and in the breeding shed. His first high-selling daughter was Silhoulette (x *Silwara), the top lot at the first Lasma auction (1971) when she sold for $56,000. Just ten years later, *Bask's daughter Fyre-Love (x Dargantka) sold for $500,000 at the *Bask Classic auction. (Fyre-Love later sold for $1,500,000 at the 1985 *Bask Classic.) The *Bask granddaughter NH Love Potion (Back Street x Sha Baska by *Bask) is the top-selling Arabian mare ever sold at auction -- she brought $2,550,000 in 1984. (See sidebar about 1980s auctions.)
*Bask's first National Champion Stallion son was Tornado (x *Silwara), who was named 1969 Canadian National Champion Stallion. Another son, MS Santana (x SW Saruchna), was 1983 Canadian National Champion Stallion and 1986 U.S. National Champion Stallion. Three *Bask daughters are U.S. and Canadian National Champion Mares: Dancing Flame (x Habina), Fire Music (x Susecion), and Bask Melody (x Susecion). Two other daughters, Fame (x Wirdih Jameel) and Mi Toska (x Toi), are Canadian National Champion Mares as well.
*Bask also excelled at siring successful park and English pleasure horses. Two of his sons were named U.S. and Canadian National Champion Park -- Zodiac Matador (x Ro Fanciray) was U.S. National Champion Park twice and Canadian National Champion Park once, Red Tape (x Delaharin) was U.S. National Champion Park twice and Canadian National Champion Park an amazing three times. Two *Bask daughters, Scarlet Lace (x Elsinor Muzuleyna) and Ambra (x *Ambara), were both awarded the titles of U.S. and Canadian National Champion Park (Ambra's Canadian win came just hours after *Bask's death). In addition, *Bask offspring have won ten U.S. National Championships in English pleasure.
After all his accomplished offspring have been tallied up, *Bask is the breed's all-time leading sire of champions and National winners. As a sire of broodmares, *Bask also has over 250 purebred daughters who have gone on to produce National winners themselves -- a feat that no other stallion in the breed has ever equalled.
The first Arabian stallion to sire more than 1,000 purebred registered foals, *Bask still enjoys the third spot among the top ten leading sires of purebred Arabians. As of December 1998, the number five on that list is the *Bask grandson Bey Shah (Bay El Bey x Star of Ofir by *Bask) with 960 get and number six is the *Bask son GG Jabask (x Jalana) with 933 registered offspring. Consider this amazing fact regarding *Bask's widespread influence: It's estimated that nearly 25% of purebred Arabians registered with AHRA are descended from *Bask in some way, often with multiple lines to *Bask. Interestingly enough, *Bask had no descendants in his homeland of Poland until the 1990s, when his American-born grandson Monogramm (Negatraz by *Bask x *Monogramma) was leased by Michalow State Stud to introduce *Bask blood to their breeding program for the first time.
*Bask died on July 24, 1979, at the age of 23. His youngest get are now 19 years old and many of his older, still-living offspring have retired from breeding. It's been 20 years since his passing, but *Bask has continued to play an important role in Arabian breeding in the U.S. Thanks to the dedication of breeders who have coveted their *Bask descendants, the *Bask legacy will carry on through his countless grandget and great-grandget -- each one potentially carrying the gene for greatness.