Brendan Riley’s Solano Chronicles: The Italian Stallion and Vallejo’s Horse-Breeding Scandal

Aug 06, 2018 245

BY: Brendan Riley

For the sake of national pride during World War II, Benito Mussolini “nationalized” a champion race horse to prevent its sale outside Italy. But the war was over and the dictator was dead when Ortello was sold for $60,000 in November 1946 and sent to Bill Stremmel’s Glen Cove Stud Farm. The stallion arrived safely in Vallejo after a long journey by ship and rail, but things went downhill rapidly from there.

Stremmel, scion of a wealthy Vallejo family, set Ortello’s stud fees at $2,500 and soon had many clients hoping for colts that would become race-winning thoroughbreds like Ortello and his offspring in Italy. Those horses had won millions for their owners. Instead, Stremmel’s horse-breeding enterprise became embroiled in scandal and within a few years shut down.

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