Belmont Stakes: Nine Great Horses That Had a Shot Headed to Belmont Park
Animal Kingdom failed in his attempt to become the 22nd horse in Triple Crown history to win the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes.
Cauthen, and Affirmed nosed out Alydar at the Belmont Stakes to give horse racing its third Triple Crown winner of the 1970's.
Since Cauthen's magical ride in the late 70's, 11 horses have gone on to win the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, giving them a chance to win the Triple Crown.
All 11 failed in their quest to become the ultimate champion in the sport of kings. Ironically, there have only been 11 Triple Crown winners in the history of the three-race event.
Forty-five horses have won two of the three Triple Crown races. Only Animal Kingdom or Shackelford can become the 46th.
Many of the Triple Crown hopefuls that won the first two legs came close at Belmont Park, and as you will read and watch in the slides ahead, painstakingly close.
Eight of the horses that completed the Derby/Preakness double finished second in New York. Another five of them finished third.
Three went on to finish fourth, while two, Burgoo King (1932) and Bold Venture (1936) never started the race at Belmont. The rest finished out of the money altogether.
These are all great race horses and are ranked in no particular order. All were great champions that contributed much to a great sport. Enjoy and please feel free to comment.
Being Charismatic Doesn't Guarantee a Triple Crown
Charismatic was a third-generation descendant of both Secretariat and Northern Dancer, and he began racing as a two year old in claiming races.
In fact, he ran in a claiming race just three months prior to the Kentucky Derby, which sent him off at 33-to-1 long shot in Kentucky.
Trained by D. Wayne Lukas and ridden by 1991 Kentucky Derby winning jockey Chris Antley, Charismatic took the lead away from Lukas’s other entry, stable mate Cat Thief, inside the eighth pole and held off the 5-2 favorite Menifee, to win the 125th run for the roses.
Charismatic became the fifth longest shot to win the Kentucky Derby.
Despite winning at Churchill Downs, Charismatic was still sent off at 8-1 odds in Baltimore for the Preakness. His fast-closing rival, Menifee, went off as the favorite at 2-1.
Just as he did in Kentucky, Charismatic won in Baltimore, this time in convincing fashion.
For the third consecutive year, horse racing had a Triple Crown hopeful.
However, like Real Quiet and Silver Charm before him, Charismatic would also fall short in his quest for the Triple Crown.
Charismatic broke his leg in two places on his run down the backstretch at the Belmont Stakes.
Amazingly, the powerful thoroughbred still managed a third place finish in the race after injuring his leg in the stretch run.
Antley jumped off his injured horse after the finish line and attempted to hold the horse's leg in place while the horse limped around waiting for the doctors to arrive.
Charismatic would recover following surgery and the moment was voted by racing fans as the 1999 National Thoroughbred Racing Association Moment of the Year.
Charismatic finished his career with five wins, two places, and four shows in 17 career starts, for total earnings of $2,038,064.
He won the Eclipse Awards for 3-year-old Colt of the Year and Overall Horse of the Year for 1999.
In 2002, Charismatic was shipped to Japan to stand at stud.
Majestic Prince was one of the greatest racehorses you have probably never heard about.
The Sire of Raise a Native and the Grand Sire of the great Native Dancer, the Prince, as he was known to the media, possessed the speed and size his pedigree was famous for having.
He was both majestic and a prince and was a beautiful chestnut-colored horse that, grew to a powerful 1,120 pounds.
Highly touted as a yearling, he was purchased in 1967 by Canadian oilman Frank McMahon for a then-record price of $250K. He ran just two races as a 2-year-old, winning them both.
As a 3-year-old, he would win the Santa Anita Derby by eight lengths, and head to the Kentucky Derby as the favorite. With 'The Prince" and three other very highly regarded horses in the field, the 1969 Derby had only eight horses entered into the race.
One of those horses, Arts and Letters, would turn out to be Majestic Prince's greatest competition throughout all three Triple Crown races in 1969.
Arts and Letters battled the Prince all the way around Churchill Downs even leading down the backstretch. However, Majestic Prince would win by a neck.
The victory in Louisville made the Prince the first unbeaten Kentucky Derby champion in 47 years.
Johnny Longden, who rode the Prince to victory in Kentucky, became the only person in history to win the Derby serving as both jockey and trainer, a feat that has not been matched to this day.
In Baltimore (see above video) at the Preakness, The Prince would again need to beat Arts and Letters down the stretch for his shot at horse racing royalty. This time he held on by a head in winning the second leg of the Triple Crown.
However, Majestic Prince would not come out of the race unscathed.
The morning after his victory in the Preakness, Longden revealed that Majestic Prince came out of the race with a problem in the right front tendon.
Longden stated the horse would not be able to run his best in the Belmont Stakes and therefore he was being shipped back to California to be rested until the fall.
The public was not happy. Animal's rights were not exactly at the top of everyone lists in the horse racing industry back in those days.
The public and media alike were also getting antsy for another Triple Crown winner. No horse had horseracing's Crown Jewel since Citation in 1948, a span of 21 years.
Majestic Prince was the fifth horse to win the first two legs of the Triple Crown in the 1960’s and every one of them failed at the mile and a half distance in the third and final race.
Just the year before, Forward Pass finished second in New York after arriving with a shot to break the 20-year draught.
For whatever reason and many believe it was owner Frank McMahon succumbing to media pressure, it was decided that injured, or not, Majestic Prince would run at the Belmont Stakes.
Arts and Letters proved to be the better distance horse as he finally caught "The Prince" down the stretch, beating him by almost six lengths at Belmont Park.
The first horse to ever head into the Belmont Stakes undefeated would never race again. In 10 career starts, The Prince would finish his career with the loss at Belmont.
Jockey Bill Hartack, who rode Majestic Prince for the Belmont Stakes told reporters, "The horse was hurting. We should never have run him in the Belmont." Longden would later comment that Majestic Prince had what was called a check ligament in his right front leg.
Majestic Prince sired 33 stakes winners before he died of a heart attack in 1981.
In 1988, Majestic Prince was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. In the 2000 Blood-Horse ranking of the top 100 U.S. thoroughbred champions of the 20th Century, he was ranked No. 46.
Silver Charm Gets Close
In the Blood-Horse magazine List of the Top 100 Racehorses of the 20th Century, Silver Charm was ranked No. 63.
Ridden by the legendary Gary Stevens and trained by Hall Of Famer Bob Baffert, Silver Charm moved up four wide approaching the stretch at the 123rd running of the Kentucky Derby and with a furlong remaining, held off race favorite Captain Bodgit at the wire.
His margin of victory was a neck, but the exciting finish at Churchill Downs would pale in comparison to the stretch run in Baltimore two weeks later.
While Captain Bodgit would press Silver Charm in Kentucky, his nemesis in Baltimore would be Free House.
Silver Charm came to Pimlico as the race favorite. With a perfect trip and never dropping lower than fourth in the race, Silver Charm was more than prepared for one of the greatest backstretch duels in Preakness history.
Free House and Silver Charm ran side by side, neck and neck and with every stride by both horses, came a lead change.
Only a photo could determine the winner and for the first time since 1989, the horseracing world had a horse with a shot to win the Triple Crown in Silver Charm.
At Belmont Park, everything looked good for Stevens who took Silver Charm to the lead then settled him into third until the top of the backstretch where he took the lead.
Another classic battle between Silver Charm and Free House was in full swing with Silver Charm showing the way towards destiny.
He seemed content to run into history with Free House once again by his side.
With many in attendance at Belmont Park getting ready to experience the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat quickly set in and its name was Touch Gold.
With just 50 yards remaining in the 1997 Belmont Stakes, victory was snatched away in the blink of an eye.
Ridden by the great Chris McCarron, Touch Gold flew past both horses to steal Silver Charm's dreams and his Triple Crown, winning by half-a-length. It all seemed so cruel, losing the Triple Crown by such a close margin.
If people thought 1997 showed how emotionally cruel the sport could be, than 1998 would be downright right torturous and again, another Bob Baffert trained horse, would be the victim.
Silver Charm would go on to win the 1998 Dubai World Cup. He was purchased by the Japan Breeders Association and retired to stud in Japan.
It was recently reported in March of this year that both he and Charismatic, the 1999 Derby and Preakness winner, survived the earthquake and Tsunami in Japan. Both came out with a clean bill of health
In 2007, Silver Charm was elected to the United States' Racing Hall of Fame.
Real Quiet Gets Even Closer
As a two year-old in 1997, Real Quiet started out slow, needing seven races before getting his first win. His two-year-old record was a very unimpressive 2-0-5 in nine starts.
Trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Kent Desormeaux, Real Quiet would rebound as a three-year-old and go onto to give Baffert his second consecutive Derby win in impressive fashion.
Two weeks later at Pimlico, Desormeaux, who cut his teeth as a jockey riding at Maryland tracks, once again, gave Baffert a chance to win the Triple Crown with a three-length victory in Baltimore at the Preakness.
All the talk headed New York was about how Bob Baffert lost the Triple Crown in agonizing fashion the year before with Silver Charm.
Much like Silver Charm the year before, Real Quiet was running a flawless race and stood in perfect position running into the final turn. He was poised and took the lead, running away from the field coming out of the final turn.
Down the stretch, Real Quiet was anything but as he took what looked to be an insurmountable late four length lead.
As if shot out of a cannon, jockey Gary Stevens, who had his Triple Crown hopes spoiled by half a length the year before aboard Silver Charm, would charge from five lengths back with Victory Gallop and catch Real Quiet on the race's final stride.
A five-minute review of the wire photo would seem to take hours.
Finally, the orange neon light that reads "official" lit up on the infield board, and once again, for the second consecutive year, a Triple Crown was snatched away at the very last second.
Losing in an even closer finish than Silver Charm the year before, Real Quiet would now hold the distinction of suffering the closest defeat of any horse in the quest for the Triple Crown.
You have probably blinked your eyes at least a dozen times in the past minute reading this. Now imagine that your horse just lost the Triple Crown by just one of those blinks.
Heartbreaking and agonizing does not do the feeling that many felt that afternoon justice.
As a four-year-old, Real Quiet won the grade one Pimlico Special and as he did in the 97 Preakness with Silver Charm, Baffert would have to battle Free House nose to nose during the Grade I Special.
Real Quiet became the first horse in 50 years to win the Preakness Stakes and the Pimlico Special .He was the only non-Triple Crown winner on the list of five which included Citation, Whirlaway, Assault, and War Admiral.
Real Quiet entered stud for a fee of $25,000 in 2000 at Vinery Kentucky near Lexington after he fractured a splint bone in his right front leg. He had won or placed in 17 of 20 starts and earned $3,271,802.
Real Quiet passed away last September after falling in his paddock at Penn Ridge Farms.
Jonesing for a Triple Crown, Here Comes Smarty
The 1960's saw five horses win the first two legs of horse's Triple Crown, which is more than any other decade in the Triple Crown series.
Second to the 1960's are the 2000’s. Four horses headed to Belmont Park with a shot to win the Crown. War Emblem was first in 2002, followed by Funny Cide the next year.
With all due respect to those horses and their fans, I chose the last two winners for this poll, starting with the popular Smarty Jones in 2004.
Born at Fairthorne Farm in Chester County, Pa., Smarty had an auspicious start to his racing career.
With perhaps the most unique, weird, and unusual story surrounding the start of his career, it is a wonder Smarty went on to great things. However, his pedigree would indicate nothing but greatness lay ahead.
Included in Smarty Jones' pedigree are Triple Crown winners Secretariat and Count Fleet, and such other Triple Crown race winners as Northern Dancer and Foolish Pleasure.
Smarty was also related to the mighty Man o' War, who ranked No.1 on the list of Blood-Horse magazine List of the Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century.
Pat Chapman and her husband, Roy "Chappy" Chapman, had originally hired Bobby Camac to be Smarty Jones' trainer, but in December 2001, Camac’s stepson murdered Camac and his wife.
Following the tragic turn of events, Chappy turned to an unknown who trained horses that raced primarily out of Philadelphia Park. His name was John Servis.
Servis did not start well with Jones.
Early in Smarty's career, Servis was teaching the young colt how to enter the starting gate. Smarty became spooked, then reared up, and smashed his head against the metal on the top of the starting gate.
The result of the accident was a fractured skull. The bones around his left eye were so badly damaged, veterinarians thought they might have to remove the eye.
Amazingly, with jockey Stewart Elliott aboard, Smarty recovered and went on to win the first eight races of his career.
What made this feat even more amazing was, Elliott and Smarty did it at five different tracks over eight different distances.
After winning the Arkansas Derby Smarty headed to Louisville and even though he was impressively undefeated, he was barely a post time favorite.
Elliott rode a perfect race in Louisville. He went to the whip on the backstretch, and Smarty responded by passing Lion Heart, and winning the Derby win by 2 3/4 lengths.
Two weeks later in Baltimore, the raucous infield crowd would witness Preakness history. After again catching and passing Lion Heart, Smarty Jones would pull away for an 11 and a half-length victory.
The margin of victory was the largest in Preakness history surpassing the 10-length mark set by Survivor in the inaugural running of the triple crowns middle jewel in 1873.
A record crowd of 120,139 converged on Belmont Park hoping to see the undefeated Smarty Jones become racing's 12th Triple Crown winner and the first since Affirmed in 1978.
For his blue-collar roots and the rough start to his career, Smarty Jones' became a very popular horse. Attendance increased drastically at racetracks and he caused the highest television ratings in 14 years.
People even made comparisons to Rocky because of his Philadelphia roots. However, there would be no knockout in the third installment of the Triple Crown show for Smarty Jones.
Unfortunately and like every other horse in this poll, his quest for the crown also fell short. He was defeated by 36-1 long shot, Birdstone, who was ridden by Edgar Prado.
The mile and a half seemed to be to much for Smarty that day, especially since he never seemed to pace, he simply ran and he paid for it, as Birdstone passed him down the stretch.
Prado and Birdstone made their move four-wide on the final turn, came on strong, and battled with Elliott and Smarty the rest of the way.
With 50 yards to go, Smarty gave up the lead in the stretch for the first time in his career, as Birdstone finally caught him to win by a length.
Like most horses do in the Belmont, Smarty seemed to run out of gas when it was needed the most.
The loss was devastating to his many fans and while he was simply beaten, many came up with a conspiracy theory.
Fans and some experts believed that two other jockeys in the race, Alex Solis and Jerry Bailey, conspired to keep Smarty from winning.
Many said the pair “rode not to win,” but to deny Smarty Jones the Triple Crown title.
Smarty Jones career was very similar to that of Majestic Prince in that, the Belmont, would be the last race of his career and like "the Prince," would suffer his only loss in New York.
The end of his racing career was announced Aug. 2, 2004 due to chronic bruising of his anklebones. He finished his career with eight wins and one place in nine starts, earning $7,613,155.
The money includes a $5 million bonus he received from Oaklawn Park for winning three stakes races at three specified tracks.
During the 2011 breeding season, Smarty Jones was relocated to Tarry Bratton’s Ghost Ridge Farms near Felton, Pa. He will ship to Uruguay for the Southern Hemisphere season.
What Can Brown Do for You?
Big Brown was lightly raced as a two year old, overcame every bad historical trend, and other than the one race that would have cemented his legacy, won every time he entered a starting gate.
In the Florida Derby, Big Brown became the first horse to win from either post 11 or 12 at the distance since the track was reconfigured in 2005.
In the Kentucky Derby, Big Brown won from post position 20. No horse since Clyde Van Dusen in 1929 won the Derby from that far outside and it was the only victory from the post in the previous 133 years.
Big Brown also had to defy Derby history by becoming the first horse since the filly Regret in 1915 to win off just three career starts.
He overcame them all and did it with little effort.
As the 2-1 Kentucky Derby favorite, with Kent Desormeaux aboard, Big Brown (named for UPS) seemingly toyed with the 19 other horses in the field, including the filly Eight Belles.
Eight Belles was seen as one of the horses that could beat Big Brown in Kentucky.
The day would belong to Big Brown, controversial trainer Rick Dutrow and Desormeaux. Coming out of the final turn with an explosive turn of foot, Brown quickly surpassed the leaders and blew into the stretch drive.
He increased his lead with every stride and beat Eight Belles for a 4-3/4 length decision. How much was required to keep up with Big Brown.
Sadly, following the race, Eight Belles had to be put down on the track after breaking both her front legs. She finished second but collapsed around the turn after following the race. She was immediately euthanized on the track.
Two weeks later in Baltimore, Big Brown would look even more impressive.
Big Brown went off as the 1-5 favorite as Desormeaux took a long comfortable stroll around the track he called home for a few years.
In the backstretch, Big Brown came off the rail to a clear spot just off the leaders and won by 5-1/4 lengths .
Brown joined Majestic Prince (1969), Smarty Jones (2004) and Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew (1977) as undefeated Derby and Preakness winners.
Here is where the story gets a little strange. On the Friday following the Preakness, a three-inch quarter crack was discovered on the horse's left front hoof.
The injury was apparently a recurrence that Big Brown experienced in both of his front hooves the previous fall.
His trainer Rick Dutrow referred to the injury as "just a little hiccup", and with the crack stitched together with steel wire, Big Brown resumed jogging at Belmont the following Tuesday.
However, with the death of Eight Belles at the Preakness, many wondered if it wise to run Brown at all in New York.
Veterinarians said that the injury could cause the horse to turn in a poor performance but would not cause pain or harm to the Thoroughbred.
Dutrow insisted the horse was fine and the public agreed. On a near 100-degree day at Belmont Park, Big Brown was sent off as the 2-5 favorite.
He ran like the weather from the start, hot and cranky. Big Brown was rank, as Desormeaux seemed to battle his horse for much of the race. Brown would settle momentarily but then became rank again.
The track had become deep and sticky from the heat baking down on it and Big Brown was struggling over it.
With 38-1 shot Da'Tara well on his way to a wire-to-wire victory, Big Brown never comfortably moved higher than third and then finally after watching the rest of the field blow by, Desormeaux pulled him up.
The great Big Brown would officially not finish the race and is listed with a DNF in the 2008 Belmont Stakes. This was especially troubling to Dutrow who was known to be arrogant and cocky when it came it to Brown.
Many in the racing industry snickered at Dutrow and his horse’s poor showing. Big Brown became the first Triple Crown hopeful to finish dead last at the Belmont.
Despite the criticism he received for pulling Brown up, jockey Kent would return to race Big Brown two more times in his career.
Brown came back to win the $1 million Haskell at Monmouth Park in August 2008, and won again at Monmouth Park six weeks later, this time on the grass.
Dutrow was preparing Big Brown for the Breeders Cup Classic in November when he injured his hoof working out in October. Brown was declared out of the Classic and forced to retire.
In eight career starts, he was 8-0-0 with a DNF.
In 2008, Big Brown was awarded the Eclipse Award as American Champion Three-Year-Old Male Horse. His first foal was born in mid-January 2010.
Out of Impressive Attire, she was born at Swifty Farms in Seymour, Ind.
Alydar, runner-up to Affirmed in all three memorable 1978 Triple Crown races, sired many great racehorses, including such legends as Easy Goer and Strike the Gold.
His most popular offspring, Alysheba, is ranked No. 42 on the top 100 U.S. thoroughbred champions of the 20th Century by the Blood-Horse magazine.
As a half million-dollar yearling trained by Hall of Fame trainer, Jack Van Berg, big things were expected from the son of Alydar.
However, Alysheba would enter the Kentucky with just one win. He easily defeated the field in a mile and a 16th contest at Turfway Park, winning by eight lengths.
Ridden by the legendary Chris McCarron, Alysheba overcame a near tragedy when he was blocked by Bet Twice and nearly went down. Then in a dramatic stretch drive, he passed Bet Twice to win the Kentucky Derby.
His time of 2:03 2/5 was considered very slow and well off the record, but the fact that he was blocked three times in his stretch drive and still won made it one of the most memorable Derbies ever.
Two weeks later in Baltimore, the budding rivalry with Bet Twice would again factor into the outcome as Alysheba would again pass his rival down the stretch to win by half a length.
Although he won two of the Triple Crown races his father was denied, Alysheba was soundly beaten by 14 lengths in the Belmont by Bet Twice.
Bet Twice would even the score as he won at the Haskell Invitational in August. The great stretch battle was one of the most memorable races ever run at Monmouth.
Alysheba would win just one of the three races remaining in his three-year-old career but it was at the Breeders Cup Classic that year that he would find his next on track rival, 1986 Kentucky Derby winner, Ferdinand.
The older horse Ferdinand, won by nose, and in doing so, earned Horse of the Year honors. However, Alysheba locked up Champion Three Year Old Colt honors with his run. As a four-year-old, Alysheba would win six Grade I stakes races.
He would go onto to beat both his rivals during the year with wins over Ferdinand in the San Bernardino Handicap and the Santa Anita Handicap.
He would go head to head with Bet Twice nine times in his career. Alysheba won four of those races with Bet Twice winning three.
His three Eclipse Awards were for 1988 Horse of the Year, 1988 Champion Older Male, and 1987 Champion Three-Year-Old Male.
He was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1993
Alysheba stood at Lane's End Farm in Kentucky until 1999, when he was sold to a breeding operation in Saudi Arabia. Alysheba sired eleven stakes winners, of which his best was 1994 Canadian Horse of the Year, Alywow.
In October 2008, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia returned Alysheba to his homeland as a gift to the American people. Shortly after his return to the states, Alysheba developed a chronic degenerative spinal condition, which caused weakness in his legs.
The weakness led to a fall that resulted in severe pain, leaving Alysheba without the ability to stand on his own.
On Friday, March 27, 2009, Alysheba was euthanized at the Hagyard Equine Medical Institute.
In 26 lifetime starts, Alysheba finished his career with a record of 11-8-2, and earned a total of $6,679,242, a record at the time.
Even though I am an East Coast guy, California horse Sunday Silence is my favorite racehorse of all time.
I was fortunate enough to be sober, and in the infield, on the day of the 1989 Preakness Stakes.
I actually saw in person, the stretch run, of what many consider one of the greatest horse races ever run.
Sunday Silence defeated Easy Goer in a photo finish and after a stretch duel that not even history can properly describe.
Sunday Silence only won because his neck happen to be the one that stretched the furthest after exactly one mile and three-sixteenths.
Ranked 31st by the Blood-Horse magazine List of the Top 100 Racehorses of the 20th Century, Sunday Silence was passed over twice at the sales ring as a yearling.
He was finally sold in California for $50,000 as a two-year-old in training.
As a two-year-old, he won once in three starts, but rebounded to win the San Felipe Stakes and the Santa Anita Derby as a three-year-old. These victories secured his spot in the 1989 Kentucky Derby.
However, as a West Coast horse, Sunday Silence was not the horse the East Coast-dominated media considered the best entering the run for the roses.
Sunday Silence would best the beast from the east on a sloppy track at Churchill Downs, and yes, track conditions were used as an excuse for his Easy Goer's loss.
The thrilling win in Baltimore, which gave Hall Of Fame trainer Charlie Whittingham his only Preakness victory, did nothing to change the mind of the powerful New York columnists.
They still believed that Easy Goer would win the Belmont, and they still believed he was the better horse.
They would prove to be correct. Not in that he was the better horse, because he wasn't, but that he would win the Belmont.
An easy eight-length victory in the race considered the true test of a real champion, belonged to Easy Goer. Only Secretariat ran faster at the Belmont Stakes than Easy Goer, a feat he accomplished when he won the 1973 Triple Crown.
The stage was now set for what many considered the most anticipated Breeders Cup Classic in the history of horse racing.
With five consecutive Grade I stakes wins, Easy Goer would be the 1-2 favorite with Sunday Silence the second choice at 2-1.
In another classic stretch drive Sunday Silence would win by a neck and with seven wins in nine starts, including three over Easy Goer, Sunday Silence won the Eclipse award for Outstanding 3-Year-Old Male Horse.
Due to an injured ligament, Sunday Silence was forced to retire after 14 career races in which he never finished worse than second.
In 1996, he was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.
Sunday Silence did not garner much interest from American breeders and was sold to Japanese breeder Zenya Yoshida to stand at his Shadai Stallion Station in Japan.
Sunday Silence became their leading sire in the last decade of his life.
In May of 2002, Sunday Silence contracted an infection in his right leg, which brought on the disease laminitis (a disease that affects the feet of hoofed animals) in his left leg.
In August 2002, he lost his battle and died of a massive heart attack.
Northern Dancer: The Greatest Sire of the 20th Century
Called the most successful sire of the 20th century, Canadian-bred Northern Dancer once beat out hockey legend Gordie Howe as the 1964 Canadian Athlete of the year.
It took Northern Dancer exactly two minutes to become a national hero in Canada. The Mayor of Toronto even awarded the colt the key to the city.
After not garnering much attention during his 1962 yearling sale, he was purchased by Canadian beer mogul, E.P. Taylor.
As a two-year-old, Dancer would win seven of nine starts, including three stakes races. Ridden by the legendary Bill Shoemaker, Dancer would win two Derby Prep races, Grade I Flamingo Stakes and the Grade I Florida Derby.
However, and probably because Northern Dancer was a Canadian-bred horse, Shoemaker chose to ride a horse he had never mounted, named Hill Rise.
Another Hall Of fame jockey, Bill Hartack, would take the mount aboard Northern Dancer, and guide him to another win in a Derby prep, the Bluegrass Stakes.
At Churchill Downs, Hartack and Northern Dancer would hold off Shoemaker and Hill Ride in the fastest Kentucky Derby ever run, until Secretariat in 1973.
Two weeks after the Derby in Baltimore, Northern Dancer won the Preakness. Excitement mounted in Canada and the US at this point, as no horse since Citation in 1948 had won the Triple Crown.
Like every other great horse on this list, Northern Dancer failed in his quest to win horseracing's crown jewel.
In the Belmont Stakes, which was held at Aqueduct Park due to renovations at Belmont, Northern Dancer tired and finished third to Quadrangle and Roman Brother.
Dancer's career would not last much longer. Following the Belmont, Northern Dancer won Canada's Queen's Plate, by seven and a half lengths before tenderness in his left front tendon ended his racing career.
Northern Dancer won 14 of his 18 races and never finished worse than third. For his efforts during the 1964-racing year, he was named North America's champion 3-year-old colt of 1964, and Canadian Horse of the Year.
Northern Dancer stood at stud at Taylor's Windfields Farm in Ontario until 1969, when he was moved to Windfields' Maryland farm, where he remained until his death. It was there that Northern Dancer would become perhaps the greatest sire in horse racing history.
Northern Dancer sired 147 stakes winners and in the 1980s, Northern Dancer's stud fee reached $1 million. This amount has yet to be equaled.
A French syndicate offered $40 million for Northern Dancer in 1984, but were turned down.
In The Blood-Horse ranking of the top 100 U.S. thoroughbred champions of the 20th Century, Northern Dancer was ranked No. 43.
He died at the age of 29 in 1990 and although he has been dead for more than 20 years, there are more Northern Dancer-line Breeders' Cup winners than any other horse.