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Northern Dancer

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Northern Dancer (1961-1990) was a Canadian-bred thoroughbred racehorse.

A bay colt, Northern Dancer was born May 27, 1961, by Nearctic-Natalma, by Native Dancer. In 1952, Edward P. Taylor, Canadian business magnate and owner of Windfields Farm, had attended the December sale at Newmarket, England where he purchased Lady Angela, a mare in foal to Nearco. Two years later she was bred again with Nearco, producing a colt named Nearctic. From Nearctic and the mare Natalma, a daughter of the great Native Dancer, came Northern Dancer.

  • Breeder: E.P. Taylor
  • Owner: E.P. Taylor
  • Trainer: Horatio Luro

Northern Dancer was ridden by Ron Turcotte in his first victory as a two-year-old. Before the running of the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky, trainer Horatio Luro asked jockey Bill Shoemaker to make a commitment to ride either Northern Dancer or the more promising colt, Hill Rise. Shoemaker went with the unbeaten Hill Rise, believing the colt represented his best chance for a win at the prestigious Kentucky Derby. Bill Hartack became Northern Dancers permanent jockey, guiding him to his best season in 1964 at age 3 when he won the Flamingo, Florida Derby, Blue Grass Stakes, Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Queen's Plate. He was also named champion 3-year-old of 1964.

Northern Dancer stood at Taylor's stud farm in Maryland until his retirement and was the most successful sire in thoroughbred horse-racing history. His offspring have earned more money and won more major stakes races than those of any other sire, including North American and European champions. He sired 146 stakes winners including the great Nijinsky II, winner of England's Triple Crown, as well as The Minstrel, Shareef Dancer, El Gran Senor, Secreto, Fanfreluche and multiple champion sire Sadler's Wells. He was also an exceptionally prepotent sire (a sire of sires of stakes winners). In the 1983 Keeneland auction, one of Northern Dancer's colts named Snaafi Dancer became the first $10 million yearling.

Beyond his being a great sire, in terms of racing, The Blood-Horse ranking of the top 100 U.S. thoroughbred champions of the 20th Century, Norther Dancer was ranked #43.

Northern Dancer was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1976. He was retired from stud (breeding) on April 15, 1987 at the age of 26. He died on November 16, 1990 and is memorialized at Windfields Farm in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada.

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