Go for Wand was the first Pennsylvania-bred to win a Breeders' Cup race (Juvenile Fillies in 1989). She won five consecutive Grade 1 races and seven Grade is overall from 13 starts for Delaware's Christiana Stables.
Go for Wand's victory in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies-G1 was one of the greatest achievements after decades of breeding and racing for Wilmington, Del.-based Christiana Stables. The filly, a daughter of former Windfields Farm stallion Deputy Minister, was the latest of 35 stakes winners produced by the stable founded in 1937—the year Delaware Park opened—by the late Harry Lunger and his wife Jane duPont Lunger.
This story first appeared in the January 1990 edition of the Maryland Horse.
"When my husband and I approached Jack Healey about becoming our trainer (back in 1940), he interviewed us," Jane duPont Lunger recalls, her eyes twin the way they do when she tells one of her favorite s tories . ''I'll never forge t what he told us: He said, 'If I do train for you, I expect you to do two things- win as though you're accustomed to winning, and lose as though you like it.'
"I've never had any problems with the second part. I can sit there and take loser after loser. But it 's hard for me to control my enthusiasm when we win!"
Enthusiastic hardly begins to describe her reaction last fall after Go for Wand , a homebred who races in the yellow and purple colors of Mrs. Lunger's Christiana Stables, won the $1,000,000 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies event on Breeders' Cup day at Gulfstream Park.
'Tm not sure how I felt," she says. "Numb , may be . . ."
Go for Wand is the latest of 35 stakes winners including 24 homebreds-who have campaigned in the name of Christiana Stables, founded in 1937 by Mrs. Lunger and he r late husband Harry Lunger, who died in 1976.
Plates and trophies take up eve ry in ch of s pace on one of the walls in the sunroom of her home near Wilmington (Del.) where Mrs. Lunger sits, re min is c ing. She talks of many things: her superstitions, her paradoxical allergy to horses. But always the conversation comes back to the pleasure that the horse business has given her over the last SO- plus years.
"My husband was the one who laid the foundation for all this," s he confides. "Years ago, when Mr. Lunger was not well-but his mind was clear-I would be going to the races, and he would say we had too many horses. I agreed with him. Then I'd go watch one of the horses run, and come back and tell him how well it did, and he would say we didn't have enough horses. He was the brains behind it all."
An attorney and stockbroker, Mr. Lunger was a graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law School. In his legal work for the Delaware state legislature, he was instrumental in bringing pari-mutuel wagering to the state. When Delaware Park opened in 1937, he immediately jumped in with the purchase of the couple'first race horse. "He was always terribly enthusiastic about racing," Mrs. Lunger says. "And he had almost a sixth sense when it came to bloodlines."
The Lungers called their stable Christiana because their home is located in a part of Delaware known as the Christiana Hundred. When Delaware was originally settled, the land was divided into parcels which were restricted to 100 families each. Many of Delaware's earliest residents came over from Sweden; the Christiana Hundred was named after Queen Christina of Sweden.
Christiana's breeding operation was launched in 1938, with the purchase of a yearling filly by *Bull Dog. The filly, named Miss Ferdinand , cost $7,000---a huge price at the time. But she was worth every penny. The next year Miss Ferdinand won the Matron Stakes, and in 1943 she produced Christiana's first homebred s takes winner, Sea Snack.
Miss Ferdinand and her half-sister Camargo, whom the Lungers purchased soon after that, became Christiana's foundation broodmares. Both a re out of Misleading (by Sweep). Camargo produced Thinking Cap, who won the 1955 Travers Stakes for the Lungers. ("The Travers- the 'mid-summer Derby'- has always been one of my favorite races," says Mrs. Lunger.)
Today her bloodline is carried on in Maryland by the popular young stallion Oh Say, who stands at Sagamore Farm . Sire of Grade 1 winner Sham Say, and six other stakes winners, Oh Say (by Hoist the Flag) is out of Christiana's outstanding homebred race mare Light Hearted (who won the Delaware Oaks and other major stakes). Light Hearted (by Cyane) was a great granddaughter of Camargo.
Mrs. Lunger and her family still own 17 of the 40 shares in the Oh Say syndicate.
In 1960, Mr. Lunger made the purchase that would lead to victory- almost 30 years later- in the Breeders' Cup. At Saratoga that year he paid $34,000 for a son of
*Turn-to—Your Game by *Beau Pere. Named Cyane, the colt won the 1961 Futurity Stakes and the 1962 Dwyer Handicap, plus four other races, and earned $176,367 before retiring to stud . (Cyane stood at various farms in Maryland and Virginia during his long and successful career at stud . Among his most famous offspring was Smarten, a major stakes winner who ranked as Maryland's leading sire in 1989. Smarten stands at the Northview Stallion Station in Chesapeake City.)
Cyane was one of many top runners developed for the Lungers by Maryland-based trainer Henry Clark. Their first trainer was Selby Burch, brother of Hall of Fame trainer Preston Burch. He was succeeded up on his death in 1940 by Jack Healey, who died in 1947.
Mr. Clark took over at that time, and today, at 83, continues to train a few horses for Christiana. A member of racing's Hall of Fame, Mr. Clark does not travel far from his home in Glyndon these days. The more active divisions of the Christiana Stables are handled by Jimmy Murphy (in Maryland) and Bill Badgett (in New York and Florida). Badgett has six- including Go for Wand and another 1989 stakes winner, To the Lighthouse.
Cyane raced with distinction for Christiana before being retired . His first offspring sold at auction was Obeah (below) , who was purchased by Mr. Lunger.
The $387,299 winner, show n with trainer Henry Clark and assistant Penny Wilson in 1972, was carrying her first foal, stakes winner Black Powder, by Northern Dancer.
"Henry deserves so much of the credit," says Mrs. Lunger." I said that in Florida, on national television, and it's true. He's not only been our trainer, but a dear friend to my husband and me."
Friend ship aside, Henry Clark was caught off guard when Mr. Lunger made up his mind to buy a yearling filly by Cyane at the 1966 Saratoga auction. The first son or daughter of Cyane ever to go through a sales ring, the filly-whom the Lungers were to name Obeah- cos t $15,000. " Henry was upset because he hadn't had a chance to look at her first. But Mr. Lunger was determined; he said we had to support our stallion," remarks Mrs. Lunger.
Mr. Clark was able to make the best of the situation. He sent Obeah out to win five major stakes (to the Lungers'especial delight she won the prestigious Delaware Handicap at their home track twice) and earn $387,299.
Bred to Northern Dancer, Obeah produced graded stakes winners Dance Spell ($326,090) and Discorama ($181 ,569) and stakes winner Black Powder ($126,190).
The enormous expense of sending a mare to Northern Dancer year after year (Obeah was bred to him five times, getting five foals, three of whom won stakes) was a carefully considered judgment. "We never had a share in Northern Dancer. We insured the mating first and then, after the mare was pronounced in foal, the fetus," says Mrs. Lunger. Was such insurance costly? "Proportionately, it wasn't expensive. But we never lost one," she replies.
Obeah's final foal by Northern Dancer was Carnivalay, who is now making a success at stud at Country Life Farm in Bel Air (Md.).
The next-to-last foal she produced (at 25, she is now a pensioner) was Go for Wand. Foaled in nearby Pennsylvania at Russell Jones'Walnut Green farm, Go for Wand is by Northern Dancer's grandson Deputy Minister, who stood at Windfields Farm in Chesapeake City until the farm's closing in 1988.
"We shipped Obeah down there for one cover, and she came back in foal (carrying Go for Wand)," Mrs . Lunger states proudly. " That's impressive for a mare who was 21 years old at the time."
Mrs. Lunger's fascination with superstition, and her penchant for clever names, came together with Obeah, and now Go for Wand."An Obeah is a curse," explains Mrs. Lunger. " In Jamaica, where we have a winter home, they talk about the obeah man, and the obeah woman. If the obeah is around , you go for a wand to protect yourself."
But Go for Wand 's success on Breeders' Cup day proved that superstition is not always borne out. "I hadn't see n either of Go for Wand's winning races be fore that day, and I was worried (a bout jinxing her)," admits Mrs. Lunger.
"The first time she ran my daughter and I were going to New York to watch when we were caught in a vast accident on the bridge. A crane had fallen; there was no way we could make it there on time. She won by five lengths.
"The second time she ran I was away, accompanying my grandson to the University of St. Andrews in Scotland; we were on a vessel crossing the Atlantic. She won by 18 lengths.
"Our whole family went to New York to see her run against Stella Madrid (in the Frizette Stakes-Cl on October 14)." In that race, the only defeat in her brief career, Go for Wand lost by a half-length to Stella Mad rid.
On Breeders' Cup day, even worse omens appeared. A short time before the race, "Three big men came up and stood next to our box. They said: 'We're here to escort you down to the winner's circle if you win!'" says Mrs. Lunger, with an amused laugh.
"Well, you know, that's the kiss of death to talk like that.
"I said okay. Then the men were standing there, and they were so big they were blocking my view. I said: 'You'll have to make yourselves smaller, or I won't be able to see the race.'"
Go for Wand, of course, won easily, by two and three-quarter lengths, with Selima Stakes-G2 winner Sweet Roberta finishing second and Stella Madrid third.
"I don't really like to run my 2-year-olds much," Mrs. Lunger says, somewhat quixotically.
She enjoys watching her horses grow to maturity: "I like to get to know them." But Mrs. Lunger is not a hands-on horseperson. "My husband loved to go on riding trips out West, and he used to insist that I go too," she recalls. "I hated it. As soon as we started out, I'd get a headache. I didn't even like to go to the race track, because I felt so awful there. Then, after years went by, it was discovered that I was allergic. I have to be very careful-even going to visit the horses in the stable, which I like to do. When I go into the winner's circle, I push the horse aside."
There are no horses on Mrs. Lunger's Delaware estate. "We tried it once, a long time ago, but we didn't have the facilities to do it right," she explains. "Alexis - the only horse we ever ran in the Kentucky Der by (in 1945)-was one of the few horses we ever kept here. Some deer hunters were shooting, and a bullet ricocheted and went through one of his legs. We decided this wasn't the right place for our horses."
Alexis was named after Mrs. Lunger's great-grand father Alexis duPont, the last member of her branch of the family to be connected with the chemical company that bears the duPont name. Mrs. Lunger is a sixth generation descendant of the original duPont who came over from France in 1800 , and whose son started the company.
She lives on part of an old dairy farm that has been her home since she and her husband were married in 1944. Originally their land included 100 acres, and their house was a stone mansion designed by a French architect, in the style of a French country chateau. After Mr. Lunger's death , Mrs. Lunger donated the house and 60 acres of land to the Episcopal Diocese of Delaware, and moved into a smaller-though still grand - contemporary-styled house that overlooks the rolling hillsides.
Mrs. Lunger has five children: Philip, a cattle rancher in New Mexico; Ann, who is married to attorney and bloodstock agent Richard Jones (Richard's brother Russell Jones is president of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and owns the farm where Go for Wand was foaled); Brett, a former Formula One racing car driver; David, a stockbroker; and Mary Davis. She has 19 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
So that her family may have an opportunity to carry on Christiana Stables after she is gone, Mrs. Lunger has set up the Christiana Nursery Trust. Ten of the approximately 15 broodmares in the stable are owned by the Trust; race horses are leased back to run in the Christiana Stables name. Most of the broodmares are
boarded year-round at Claiborne Farm in Kentucky.
Mrs. Lunger has had a policy for many years of selling colts and retaining fillies. Among her rising crop of 2-year-olds are a filly by Mr. Prospector—Discorama, and the last foal out of Obeah: a bay filly by Topsider.
"Horses are a business, and they always have been for us," remarks Mrs. Lunger. "And we have been fortunate, very fortunate."