Painted Patchen got the looks at this week’s Fasig-Tipton October thoroughbred yearling sale in Kentucky, selling for $29,000 to Stoneway Farm.
Only about a dozen white thoroughbreds have been put up for auction in North America since 1999.
Born at Patchen Wilkes Farm, Painted Patchen isn’t pure white – he looks more like a paint horse with his medicine-hat colored ears and chestnut patches. His dam, Spot of Beauty is described as “freckled” white. Her son Painted Patchen marks the sixth generation of white thoroughbreds on the farm since the birth of the famed White Beauty in 1963. Although she was the first white Thoroughbred registered by the Jockey Club, legend has it that the truly original white Thoroughbred was steeplechase runner White Cross, born in Tennessee in 1896.
In White Beauty’s case, it’s thought that she got the genetic ingredients for her white coat from her sire, the chestnut sabino named Ky Colonel, who also produced War Colors. War Colors was registered as gray or roan, but in reality was likely white also.
Research by Samantha Brooks, PhD, assistant professor of equine genetics at Cornell University, indicates that there is a gene called KIT in which any one of about 20 different mutations could occur that would result in a white or partially white coat color.
“They cause both dominant white horses, who are fully white, and then they also cause some more variable white phenotypes, like Airdrie Apache (another white Thoroughbred whose coat is mottled with brown),” said Brooks. “Many of these spontaneous white horses will have a KIT mutation.”
Spot of Beauty is out of Patchen Beauty, who died in March 2013. She was in turn out of Precious Beauty, who was out of White Beauty’s daughter World Obeauty.