Bloodstock expert Nancy Sexton ranks the stallions that have left the most indelible mark over the past 100 years. Today: the first five
1. DANCER FROM THE NORTH (1961-1990)
Nearctic – Natalma (native dancer)
Was held: Windfields Farm, Canada; Windfields Farm, Maryland, USA
Northern Dancer has been a game changer when it comes to the industry, and not just in North America, but also in Europe.
It’s racing folklore that the horse’s small size and late foaling date (May 27) deterred buyers at the annual yearling auction held by his breeder, EP Taylor’s Windfields Farm. So Northern Dancer remained Taylor’s property, and luckily, it turned out to be so.
Trained by Horatio Luro, Northern Dancer was Canadian champion at two and came back to win the Kentucky Derby (in a record two minutes flat), Preakness Stakes and Queen’s Plate in a championship season at three. Never out of the top three in 18 starts, he was tough and versatile to go with his immense talent – and it was these attributes that placed him so well at stud.
When Northern Dancer retired in 1965, the idea of sourcing from America to race in Europe was just beginning to take hold. Northern Dancer, aided by the Triple Crown achievements of his second-generation son Nijinsky, accelerated the process.
Nijinsky’s trainer Vincent O’Brien, backed by Robert Sangster and John Magnier, was quick to target Northern Dancer stock and with great results, riding out of Kentucky with another Derby winner in The Minstrel as well as classic winners El Gran Senor and Lomond.
Demand for his stock drove the inflation of the blood stock market in the 1970s and 1980s – led by a colt that sold for $10.2 million in 1983, 49 of his yearlings went sold for $1 million or more – and in 1985, it was rumored, breeders were paying as much as $950,000 for his services at the age of 25.
What is remarkable about the success of Northern Dancer is that it was made in the age of the little books; as an example, his generation of 31 foals in 1980 contained four G1 winners, among them Lomond and Shareef Dancer, while in a similar small group born in 1981, El Gran Senor, Northern Trick, Secreto and Sadler’s Wells each had tasted classic success.
As expected, Northern Dancer left behind a series of successful bull sons led by Sadler’s Wells, who rewrote the record books during his time at Coolmore. Others such as Nijinsky, Be My Guest, Nureyev, Danzig, Storm Bird, Lyphard, El Gran Senor, Fairy King, Northern Taste, Vice Regent and Dixieland Band also became influential stallions in their own right, in many cases sufficiently successful in forging their own legacy.
As such, Northern Dancer is a ubiquitous presence in pedigrees today, and indeed quite often appears duplicated multiple times.
Pharos – Nogara (Havesack II)
Stood: Beech House Stud, Newmarket, Great Britain
No mention of Nearco would be complete without a nod to the influence exerted by his grandfather Phalaris, whose male line became responsible for Native Dancer (via his son Sickle), Buckpasser (via Pharamond) and Brigadier Gerard and Shergar (via Fairway).
However, it endures at its best thanks to Nearco, by Pharos. A product of Federico Tesio’s Premio Dormello, also a source for Ribot in subsequent years, Nearco swept away his career of 14 unbeaten starts for his breeder capped by a victory at the Paris Grand Prix, his last outing and the only one outside his country. native. Italy.
Tesio then sold Nearco for £60,000 to bookmaker Martin Benson, who set him up at Beech House Stud in Newmarket. Sire of nearly 90 Stakes winners in total, including Derby winners Dante and Nimbus, his influence would change the course of the breed.
His son Nasrullah forged his own paternal line, as did Royal Charger, the backbone of the Hail To Reason line responsible for Sunday Silence and Roberto. However, it was as the sire of Nearctic, sire of Northern Dancer (see above), that the Nearco sire line became most dominant. Regardless, it’s a safe bet that the vast majority of Thoroughbreds racing today contain Nearco somewhere in their past.
As an aside, the Tesio studbook at Dormello contained the following note on Nearco: “Beautifully balanced, perfectly sized and of great quality. Won all of his 14 races when asked. Not a true stayer… he won those longer races thanks to his superb class and brilliant speed.
3. SADLER’S WELL (1981-2008)
Northern Dancer – Fairy Bridge (Bold Reason)
Held: Coolmore, Ireland
It was at the peak of appreciation for the offspring of Northern Dancer that Sadler’s Wells graced the track. Like many of his sire’s best sons, he was trained at Ballydoyle by Vincent O’Brien and although ranked lower than his famous paternal half-brother El Gran Senor, had his own classic success in the 1984 Irish 2,000 Guineas before finishing second in the Prix du Jockey Club. The winner that day was Darshaan, another subsequently highly successful stallion, while third was the equally influential Rainbow Quest; rarely has the outcome of a race had such an impact on the breed.
With a start-up fee of IR£125,000, Sadler’s Wells has never been short of opportunities, especially as his retirement coincided with the dawn of the big-book era. But it was evident when his first harvest contained the 1988 Dewhurst Stakes Prince Of Dance and Scenic that he was a potentially exceptional stallion, a view consolidated when Old Vic and In The Wings emerged as other older representatives of the first crop and champion Salsabil. directed his second.
In time, Sadler’s Wells would win 14 British and Irish champion bull titles, beating the record set by Highflyer in 1798. Along the way there were 73 G1 scorers, including Derby winners Galileo and High Chaparral, and 328 entry winners. .
Galileo then took on his sire’s champion role seamlessly in Coolmore, who also reaped the benefits of Montjeu, the sire of 31 G1 winners including Camelot, and High Chaparral, a resounding success in both hemispheres. Another son, Kentucky-based El Prado, was the North American Champion bull in 2002, where he left behind top sires Kitten’s Joy and Medaglia d’Oro.
Also a multiple champion broodmare sire, Sadler’s Wells can be credited as a force behind the rejuvenation of the breeding industry in Europe.
4. INDIGENOUS DANCER (1950-1967)
Polynesian – Unbreakable (Geisha)
Standing: Sagamore Farm, Maryland, USA
Nicknamed “The Gray Ghost”, Native Dancer was one of the first horses to capture the imagination of outdoor audiences through television as the winner of all but one of his 22 starts for owner-breeder Alfred G Vanderbilt. That lone loss came in the 1953 Kentucky Derby when he was runner-up to Dark Star, but it did little to tarnish a championship career that consisted of successes in the Preakness, Belmont, Travers and Hopeful Stakes among many other major wins.
Native Dancer spent his sire career at his owner’s Sagamore Farm in Maryland, where although he never topped the list of champion bulls, he became a stallion of immense influence.
The line is now strongest thanks to Raise A Native, a brilliant but fragile two-year-old colt who himself became hugely influential as the sire of Mr. Prospector (a champion sire who started the successful bulls Fappiano, Forty Niner, Gone West, Gulch, Kingmambo, Machiavellian, Miswaki, Seeking The Gold, Smart Strike and Woodman), Alydar (one of the best bulls), Exclusive Native (the sire of Affirmed) and Majestic Prince.
Native Dancer also left behind Dan Cupid (father of Sea Bird) and Atan (father of Sharpen Up) as well as Natalma, mother of Northern Dancer.
5. Galilee (1998-2021)
Sadler’s Well – Urban Sea (Miswaki)
Held: Coolmore, Ireland
Galileo is the benchmark by which recent excellence is measured.
It is remarkable to think that only one stakes winner, Innocent Air, emerged from his first crop of two-year-old racers in 2005. But the tide was to turn to such a magnificent degree that he now owns 12 British stallions and Irish. ‘ championships (one of them secured in 2017 with an incredible total of almost £12m), and perhaps with the prospect of more to come.
When Tuesday clinched the Oaks, it became his 18th individual winner of a British Classic; the list also includes a record five Derby winners (New Approach, Ruler Of The World, Australia, Anthony Van Dyck and Serpentine). Magical Lagoon became its 96th overall G1 winner in the Irish Oaks.
As a racehorse, Galileo was the 2001 champion three-year-old colt for Coolmore’s partners, his fluidity of movement and physical and mental stability were showcased by victories in the Derby and King George. And it’s those attributes, especially that physical and mental toughness, that his offspring are praised for time and time again.
Galileo died last summer after casting an all-powerful presence on the breed, whether in terms of production or his evolutionary legacy as a sire of bulls and sire of a broodmare.
He has over 20 G1 producing sons at the stud run by Khalid Abdullah’s undefeated champion Frankel, considered by many to be the finest racehorse of recent era who won his first British and Irish championship last year. He also has 40 G1 winners as a dam sire, including Ghaiyyath, Saxon Warrior, Snowfall, Sottsass and Classic winner siblings Magna Grecia and St. Mark’s Basilica.
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