Native Dancer’s Legacy Lives On

September 27, 2019

Native Dancer’s Legacy Lives On

By: Peter Lee

Native Dancer had a great career – 21 wins in 22 races, for an outstanding 95.5% winning percentage. But his legacy has lived on for the next 60 years.

His foals were impressive enough: Dan Cupid won the 1958 Prix du Bois and several other stakes races in France. He was the sire of the British horse Sea-Bird, who may be one of the greatest racehorses of all time. 

The unheralded Kauai King won 9 of 16 races, including the 1966 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. Dancer’s Image won the 1968 Kentucky Derby but was disqualified when stewards found phenylbutazone in his system. 

Native Dancer’s success continued further down the bloodline: 

In 1963, Raise a Native bowed a tendon after only four wins as a 2-year-old ibut went on to sire;

1969 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Majestic Prince, who went on to sire stakes winners Sensitive Prince and Coastal

1978 hard-luck Triple Crown runner-up Alydar, who sired champions Alysheba and Easy Goer

Exclusive Native, who in turn sired 1978 Triple Crown winner Affirmed and 1980 Kentucky Derby winner Genuine Risk (only the second filly to win the Kentucky Derby)

Mr. Prospector, who was a prolific sire whose offspring include 1982 Belmont Stakes winner and Horse of the Year Conquistador Cielo, 1985 Preakness Stakes winner Tank’s Prospect and 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus

Natalma, born in 1957, was the dam of Northern Dancer, winner of the 1964 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. He is one of the most influential sires of all time; his stud fee peaked at $500,000 in 1984. His offspring include:

Nijinsky II, winner of the 1970 English Triple Crown and important stallion

Fanfreluche, 1970 Canadian Horse of the Year

Shenaningans (1963) was the dam of champion filly Ruffian.

Native Dancer became so popular that his blood began to dominate the Thoroughbred breed. His 306 foals went on to produce such legends as 1964 Derby and Preakness winner Northern Dancer, who himself sired 645 named foals; Mr. Prospector, sire of 1,195 foals; and Exclusive Native, who sired 519 foals. 

The numbers multiplied with each generation; by 2008, 75 percent of the breed had Native Dancer in their bloodlines. That same year, all 20 starters in the Kentucky Derby had Native Dancer in their genes; so have 20 of the last 21 Derby winners. in 2018, all the Kentucky Derby entrants had Mr. Prospector in their DNA.

“The constant crossing and recrossing of the Northern Dancer and Mr. Prospector stallions that now dominate our gene pool means that Native Dancer’s name appears at least once – and often three or four times – in the pedigree of virtually every stakes winner that crosses the finish line,” wrote John P. Sparkman in the Pedigree Curmudgeon blog.

Next: Too much of a good thing?

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