From Race Horses to Roses (Part Two): Charismatic


‘Charismatic’ can have wonderful form especially in the fall. Photo by Andrew Hearne

The Thoroughbred:

Charismatic was a chestnut colored thoroughbred foaled in 1996 under a foal-sharing arrangement between William S. Farish and the Parrish Hill Farm.  Sired by Summer Squall making him a third generation descendant of Secretariat (the greatest thoroughbred of all time) and Northern Dancer (one of the most influential sire’s in thoroughbred history) and his broodmare was Bali Babe.  Owned by Bob and Beverly Lewis, Charismatic was trained by the famous D. Wayne Lukas who has trained 14 triple crown winning race horses to date and most recently Oxbow at The Preakness in 2013.

Charismatic had an underwhelming and underachieving start to his racing career.   In fact the colt was put into a claims race to “gain confidence” winning the $62,500 claims race at Santa Anita Park in which anyone could have claimed Charismatic for that price, but no one bit.  At the final race before the Kentucky Derby Charismatic won the Grade 2 Lexington Stakes.

Jockey Chris Antley who won the Kentucky Derby in 1991 on Strike the Gold had battled earlier career problems with drug use and left horse racing in 1997 due to weight problems and depression.  Antley made his racing career comeback the same month Charismatic was entered in the claims race.  Jerry Bailey, who rode the colt to victory at the Lexington Stakes, decided to ride Worldly Manner in the “Run For The Roses”.

Chris Antley was chosen to ride Charismatic for the Kentucky Derby.  Charismatic was a 31-1 long shot in a field of 19 horses to win the 125th running of the Kentucky Derby in 1999.  General Challenge was a slight favorite going off at 9-2 odds.   The race was described as rough and slow with Charismatic avoiding trouble and racing wide, midway down the stretch he took the lead and prevailed by a head over the late charging Menifee.

Thought to be a fluke Charismatic was once again an underdog (8-1) at The Preakness Stakes two weeks later.  Charismatic proved the Derby was no fluke making his move around the final turning winning by 1-1/2 lengths over rival Menifee in 1:55.2.   No horse had won the coveted Triple Crown since 1978 when Affirmed followed the previous years capturing of the Triple Crown by Seattle Slew.  Charismatic was the 2-1 favorite at the final leg of the Triple Crown, The Belmont Stakes.  This was the third year in a row a horse entered the Belmont with the possibility of capturing the coveted Triple Crown.   Unlike the at Kentucky Derby and The Preakness, Charismatic ran out front early.  Heading into the final furlong it appeared Charismatic would break the 21 year drought however Charismatic faded down the stretch and finished third behind winner Lemon Drop Kid and Vision and Verse.

Jockey Chris Antley dramatically jumped off Charismatic and held up the colt’s left front leg which was broken in two places occurring just before the finish line.  This action proved to be life saving as Charismatic had career ending surgery the following day.   Despite his life saving actions Antley drew criticism for racing Charismatic out front tiring the horse out in the final stretch in the grueling 1-1/2 mile track that has been the down fall of many horses who bid for the Triple Crown.  Charismatic was awarded the 3-year-old Colt of the Year and was the Horse of the Year.

After recovery Charismatic was sent to Lane’s End Farm to stand stud next to his sire Summer Squall.   In 2002 Charismatic was sold to Japan’s Bloodhorse Breeders Association.  In December of 2000 the great comeback story of Chris Antley ended sadly when he died of a drug overdose.


Charismatic after winning the Preakness the second leg of the Triple Crown. Web Photo from

The Rose:

David Clemons used his own mini-flora ‘Ruffian’ crossed with the prolific parent ‘Kristin’ to create the beautiful red and white mini-flora ‘Charismatic’ and was introduced in 2004 by Rosemania.  There are few roses that are as elegant and pretty in bud form as ‘Charismatic’ due to its long elegant cherry colored buds.  Right out of the gate ‘Charismatic’ will reveal its often perfect spiral.   There is no tease to the blooms–it will either have a center or it won’t.  In contrast ‘Foolish Pleasure’ takes a little more time before revealing its hand.  Well colored blooms will have a light yellow throat and are typically medium-large in size.  The downfall as an exhibition rose is ‘Charismatic’ can open very quickly.  Unfortunately, ‘Charismatic’ can not match the great long-term refrigeration characteristics of ‘Whirlaway’ or ‘Foolish Pleasure’.  The best blooms occur in cooler weather which in contrast open very slowly and the color is more vibrant and tends to fade less.  The finest ‘Charismatic’ blooms can hold its own against any other mini-flora including  some of David’s own more consistent exhibition varieties.  At the National Miniature Rose Show in Harrisburg, PA ‘Charismatic’ won the Mini-flora Queen and was shown by  Richard Anthony.  This was the first National Queen of Show hybridized by David Clemons


‘Charismatic’ bloom in my garden. Photo by Andrew Hearne.

In the garden ‘Charismatic’ is a medium size upright grower.  The foliage and stems are plenty long and large.  I have noticed the more vigorous stems can produce disproportionately large foliage at times.  In my yard Charismatic is more vigorous than ‘Foolish Pleasure’ but can not match the athletic tall-growing ‘Whirlaway’.  ‘Charismatic’ may not excel at anyone thing in my garden, but it doesn’t have bad traits either, making it a solid choice and a must have for any garden.


Another example of a fall bloom ‘Charismatic’. Photo by Andrew Hearne.

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