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Northern Dancer

1993-24-2273_NorthernDancer small NMR.jpg

Northern Dancer (NMR Collection)
Northern Dancer
Induction Year: 
E. P. Taylor
Windfields Farm
Horatio A. Luro
Native Dancer
Career Years: 

Tab Wrapper


A hero on the racetrack and a legend as a stallion, Northern Dancer won major races such as the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes and had a monumental impact on the sport through the remarkable success of his progeny.


A son of Nearctic out of the Native Dancer mare Natalma, Northern Dancer was bred in Canada by E. P. Taylor and campaigned under Taylor’s Windfields Farm banner. Taylor owned the stakes-placed Natalma and bred her to his Nearctic, a Canadian Horse of the Year. Taylor, the founder of Woodbine Racecourse, had international aspirations for Canadian racing and breeding. His own breeding program was derived from careful selection of European bloodstock with horses such as Nearctic being an end result.


Taylor wanted to promote his program and therefore entered his Nearctic—Natalma yearling in his annual pre-priced yearling sales at his farm in Oshawa, Ontario. The diminutive colt, however, failed to meet the reserve and Taylor kept him.


Sent to trainer Horatio Luro, Northern Dancer showed considerable promise as a juvenile, winning the Summer Stakes and Coronation Futurity in Canada and the Remsen Stakes in New York. He won seven of his nine starts as a 2-year-old and was named Canada’s top juvenile.


As a 3-year-old in 1964, Northern Dancer swept his prep series of the Flamingo Stakes, Florida Derby and Blue Grass Stakes on his way to Louisville for the Kentucky Derby. Sent off as second choice behind Hill Rise in the Derby, Northern Dancer defeated the favorite by a neck under Bill Hartack in then-record time of 2:00 that stood until Secretariat came along.


Two weeks after the Derby, Northern Dancer delivered an emphatic victory in the Preakness, but his Triple Crown hopes were dashed when he finished third behind Quadrangle and Roman Brother in the Belmont Stakes.


Returning to Canada, Northern Dancer dominated the prestigious Queen’s Plate by 7½ lengths in his final career start. Tenderness in a left front tendon convinced Taylor to retire his standout with a career record of 14-2-2 from 18 starts and earnings of $580,647. He was named Horse of the Year in Canada for 1964 and champion 3-year-old male in America.


Northern Dancer initially stood at Taylor’s Oshawa farm. His first crop yielded Canadian Horse of the Year Viceregal. His second crop included Nijinsky II, the first horse in 35 years to win the English Triple Crown. By then, Northern Dancer was standing at Taylor’s Windfields division in Chesapeake, Md. Northern Dancer’s success helped propel the stunning rise in yearling auction prices during the late 1970s and early 1980s, as his offspring became the focus of legendary bidding battles between English horseman Robert Sangster and the Maktoum family of Dubai.


At one point, Northern Dancer’s stud fee had risen to $1 million and at the age of 20 a European syndicate unsuccessfully offered $40 million to buy him. Northern Dancer’s fertility waned in his later years and he was euthanized at the age of 29 on Nov. 16, 1990. In all, Northern Dancer sired 146 stakes winners and was the sire of the dams of 214 stakes winners.