In 1964 I was, let’s see, um, 13 years old. You might wonder why Northern Dancer was a hero. We all need hero’s, and aside from The Beatles, Northern Dancer was making headlines. You know, its kind of like that kids book, The Little Engine That Could. We all watched as he challenged the “Big Guys” for supremacy and when we saw him reach the finish line he won our hearts. Corny? Nope lol. When he died, it was like losing a piece of our hearts. A memory to cherish. So! Once again I’ve pieced together some articles and happily watched some youtube videos. Hope you enjoy and understand the legacy of this “Little Horse with a Big Heart.” ©J.E.Goldie
Northern Dancer was a Canadian-bred Thoroughbred racehorse that won the 1964 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes and then became one of the most successful sires of the 20th century. He is considered a Canadian icon, and was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1965. Induction into the Racing Hall of Fame in both Canada and the United States followed in 1976. As a competitor, The Blood-Horse ranks him as one of the top 100 U.S. Thoroughbred champions of the 20th century. A sire of sires, he has been called the leading male-line progenitor of modern Thoroughbreds worldwide.
Born May 27, 1961, Northern Dancer was the yearling that nobody wanted. Small horses were overlooked at the sales and his owner, Canadian business magnate E.P. Taylor, couldn’t sell the 14.2hh cheeky, weedy foal (he would grow to 15.1 3/4hh ) for $25,000 in 1962 and the farm was left with the colt. This turned out to be the best twist of fate imaginable along with fact that he was never gelded and two years later he stunned the horse world and silenced his critics by winning the 1964 Kentucky Derby in a record two minutes flat.
Northern Dancer made his mark both on and off the track and his stud fee of one million dollars was huge at the time. Northern Dancer never came lower than third in a race and he won 14 of the 18 races he ran. When he died on November 16, 1990, just one year after E.P Taylor’s death, 467 of his 635 registered foals had won races and over 150 had won stakes races with more than $20 million in earnings. Some of his most famous offspring include Epsom Derby winner Nijinsky, and The Minstral.
When Northern Dancer won the Kentucky Derby in the spring of 1964, Canadians poured into the streets to celebrate. The mayor of Toronto awarded him the key to the city, the country’s sportswriters voted him Athlete of the Year, and he was deluged with fan mail.