At a glance

  • Filly, Ontario-bred, foaled March 22, 2022
  • By Big Screen out of Dreaming of Candy
  • Trainer: Kevin Attard
  • Foundation development at Margaux Farm (KY)
  • Acquired at 2023 CTHS Premier Yearling Sale

Pickford Sweet was named after a Canadian actress who became one of the most recognizable people in the world, the most powerful woman in Hollywood, and a big screen legend.

Raised in poverty by her Irish mother, Toronto-born Mary Pickford overcame her humble origins in a meteoric rise. Second only to Charlie Chaplin in popularity in 1910s and 1920s, the Canadian became the most famous woman in the world, an Academy Award winner, a renowned movie producer, a studio head, and co-founder of organizations that defined today’s film industry. Recognized as the “most powerful woman who has ever worked in Hollywood”, her global fame rivalled that of any movie star today and her influence was truly massive. She is credited among those who “made” Hollywood.

After starting her theater career at the age of 7 to support her mother and two siblings, Mary Pickford became famous in the silent movie era playing young characters who were always sweet. In the United States, she was called “America’s Sweetheart”. Canadians called her “Canada’s Sweetheart”. Overseas, she was “The World’s Sweetheart”. Beyond her big screen sweetness, she was a tireless force of nature and a renegade with a head for business.

Pickford was one of the first film stars to ever be billed under her own name. Before her, actors were never mentioned in credits so that producers could retain drawing power and pay low wages. As audiences clamoured to see more of “Little Mary” and “the girl with the curls”, cinemas began displaying posters that advertised her as the star of the show.

By 1912, Pickford was a superstar: “The Queen of the Movies”. Recognizing her bargaining power, she negotiated unheard-of salaries at the time and defined the concept of “movie star” by using her fame to demand creative input until she had control of all aspects of movie making. By 1916, Pickford was earning $10,000 a week (the equivalent of $250,000 today), running her own production unit, and keeping 50% of the profits from her films. At the height of her career, she was one of the richest women in North America.

Though Canadian, Mary Pickford was a powerful symbol of American culture. During WWI, she made speeches to promote the sale of liberty bonds, kissing the American flag for cameras, and auctioning one of her world-famous curls of hair for $15,000. When she spoke on Wall Street, it drew a crowd of 50,000. In Chicago, she sold $5 million in bonds in a single speech. The US Navy’s christened Pickford their official “Little Sister”. The US Army named two cannons after her and made her an honorary colonel.

In 1920, Pickford wed American actor and producer Douglas Fairbanks in “the marriage of the century” between Hollywood royalty. Their international acclaim was so vast that foreign heads of state and dignitaries visiting the White House usually asked if they could also visit Pickfair, the couple’s 18-acre estate in Beverly Hills. Their dinner guests included US Presidents, English royals, Albert Einstein, H.G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw, Charles Lindbergh, Leo Tolstoy, Amelia Earhart, Helen Keller, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Thomas Edison, Charlie Chaplin, and the Kings of Spain and Siam.

When producers pushed back against paying so much to actors, Pickford rebelled against traditional production and distribution arrangements. As two of the most powerful production houses bragged that they were about to take over the industry and bring the stars to heel, she torpedoed them by rallying some of the industry’s biggest moneymakers and co-founding the revolutionary United Artists, the first independent film distribution company. Only 27 years-old at the time, Pickford would steer United Artists as a board member for more than three decades until she sold her shares in 1956 for $3 million. She also co-founded the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and created the Motion Picture Relief Fund, the first of many charitable efforts on her part.

On both sides of the camera, the sweet Canadian was the driving force behind more than 200 movies. Pickford was the first actress to ever earn a million dollars for a film. The first Canadian nominated for an Oscar. The first Canadian to ever win one (before she captured two more). She was one of the first celebrities to ever imprint their hands and feet at Grauman’s Chinese Theater. You can find her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Canada’s Walk of Fame. Pickford was named among the greatest female stars of all time by the American Film Institute years after she received the George Eastman Award for her distinguished contributions to the art of film.

Mary Pickford passed away in Santa Monica in 1979 at the age of 87.
She made it clear that she wished to “die as a Canadian”.

About the sire

Our filly’s sire, Big Screen, is a Kentucky-bred multiple graded stakes placed, Black Type winner who finished in the money in 12 of his 21 starts between 2011 and 2014 before siring six crops, 87 foals of racing age, 71 starters, and 33 winners (with 97 first place finishes between them) and progeny earnings of more than $4.1 million. In 2023, 36 of his progeny took to the track and 16 of them won 29 races to give Big Screen his second consecutive $1 million progeny earning year.

Big Screen was sired by Kentucky-bred Speightstown, a multiple graded stakes winner, Eclipse Award 2004 Champion Sprinter, and 2004 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner. Sold for $2 million as a yearling, Speightstown retired after 16 starts with a record of 10-2-2 and $1,258,256 in purses.

About the dam

Pickford Sweet is the fourth foal out of Dreaming of Candy. This unraced dam was sired by three-time G1 winner Candy Ride who retired after only six starts with a record of 6-0-0 and $749,150 in purse earnings. Dreaming of Candy is out of Kentucky-bred Tres Dream, a multiple Black Type stakes winner who retired after 16 starts with a record of 5-2-3.

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