Saturday, February 26, 2011

Campaign for a Commerative Stamp


Last week I sent a letter off to the Chairperson of the Canada Post, Stamp Advisory Committee suggesting Northern Dancer deserves consideration on the 50th anniversary of his winning the Kentucky Derby and becoming an instant Canadian hero. It takes a couple of years to process these requests so I wanted to submit it sometime this year for a 2014 stamp.

The above photo from The Toronto Star is one of my favourites and might make a good model for the stamp. It really captures the emotion of that historic event. There are many great portraits of the Dancer that could also be used including the one Trevor Jones did for the cover of my book in 2008. I will try to light a fire under this campaign as we get closer to a decision over the next couple of years and keep you posted here.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Could this be the 2011 Kentucky Derby Winner?


He has my early vote. Brethren romped to victory yesterday in the Sam F Davis Stakes at Tampay Bay Downs to remain undefeated. He is the half-brother of last year's Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver. The WinStar colt is also trained by Todd Pletcher and is out of Distorted Humor and the mare Supercharger who happens to be the granddaughter of the incredible mare in my last post, Dance Number from Northern Dancer's 1979 crop of foals. Supercharger was under my radar in 2007 when I was finishing the book with her first foals just hitting the track but her outstanding dam Get Lucky certainly had established a presence already.

Pics from WinStar and Tom Cooley

Video of Brethren's victory in the 2011 Sam F Davis

Thoroughbred Times article

Chapter 27 - A Dance Number with 'Rhythm'


Here is an excerpt from chapter 27 of The Dancer where I talked about his 1979 crop of foals including the brilliant mare Dance Number. I will explain why in my next post.

Dance Number was bred and owned by Ogden Phipps. In her 8 wins she captured the Dark Mirage Stakes and Beldame Stakes but really showed her form in winning the High Voltage Stakes in 1982 when she equaled Aqueducts track record for 6-1/2 furlongs. She equaled another track record for 1-1/16 when she won the Shuvee Handicap at Belmont Park in 1983.

Dance Number followed an outstanding racing career with a short but fantastic career as a broodmare. She only produce 6 foals before dying in 1991 but all 6 foals were winners and they included the Eclipse Champion Two Year Old Colt, Rhythm (1987) ($1,592,532 20-6-3-4) who won the 1989 Breeders Cup Juvenile.

Rhythm has sired 11 crops of racing age so far, over 700 foals with 50% of those winners, including the 2001 Melbourne Cup Champion, Ethereal. The New Zealand bred mare Ethereal (1997) ($2,450,827 21-8-1-3) also won the Caulfield Cup (A Cups Double) to be named Champion Stayer in Australia 2001-2 (over 2200m). Ethereal was trained by Sheila Laxon, the first “official” woman to train a Melbourne Cup winner. “Granny” McDonald was denied the honour in 1938 with her colt Catalogue because Victorian State Law prohibited women from holding a Trainer’s License. Rhythm has also produced two New Zealand Champion Stayers so far in daughter Upsetthym (1998) ($401,170 35-6-3-4) and the gelding Zabeat (1999) who was the 2005 Champion and still racking up stakes victories down under.

Dance Number’s son, Not For Love (1990) ($178,870 29-6-7-5) is a full brother to Rhythm and while he was not that successful on the track he has proven to be a very capable sire. He was Maryland’s leading sire in 2006 with 95 winners from 169 runners and progeny earnings of $4,664,217, which ranked him 25th nationally.

Not For Love stands at Maryland’s Northview Stallion Station in Chesapeake, Maryland where there is another connection to his grandsire and our little Canadian hero. Northview Stallion Station opened in 1989 on the property that was formerly Windfields Farm, Maryland Division. The farm E. P. Taylor built from the ground up for Northern Dancer, thanks to the Dancer’s success became the largest operation of its kind in the state. The family of E. P. Taylor put the property up for sale in 1987 after the Dancer was pensioned and E. P. Taylor’s health was suffering. The farm ceased operation in 1988 and was eventually sold in 1989. Windfields, Maryland had grown to over 3,000 acres at its peak and was sold off in sections. Winbak Farm, a Standardbred farm occupies the largest chunk of acreage followed by Northview Stallion Station where the founders have carved their own success in Maryland’s breeding history. Richard Golden, Tom Bowman and the late Allaire duPoint wanted to preserve the lands and buildings of one of the most successful thoroughbred breeding businesses in North America. Not for Love now offers his services in the same hallowed building where Northern Dancer, The Minstrel and El Gran Senor offered theirs. Northview Stallion Station in Maryland and Windfields Farm in Oshawa, Ontario, represent the historic homes of Northern Dancer. I hope they never lose their purpose as active breeding operations but if they do I hope they are preserved in some form for the their historical significance in the life of such a legend of the sport of kings.

Dance Number’s daughter, Get Lucky (1988) ($157,760) produced 5 winners from her 11 foals so far. They included Accelerator (1994) ($414,908 24-4-3-9) and the mare Daydreaming (2001) ($696,680 16-7-2-2). Daydreaming did not have any success as a broodmare. Accelerator has had some modest success as a sire. It was Get Lucky’s unraced daughter She’s A Winner (1996) out of AP Indy who had the most success in the breeding shed. She produced 2 stakes winners from her first four crops of foals in Bluegrass Cat (2003) ($1,761,280 11-5-4-0) and the gelding, Lord Of The Game (2001) ($539,920 13-8-2-1). Bluegrass Cat won the Haskell Invitational and finished second in the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes. He now stands at WinStar Farms in Kentucky where his first crop of foals are just being born.

Dance Number’s daughter Oscillate (1986) was another modest runner winning just one non-stakes race but she was a solid broodmare. Son, Jet Around (1994) was a multiple stakes winner in Japan earning in excess of $1,000,000 $US. Son, Mutakddim (1991) was a stakes winner in England before retiring to a prosperous career as a stallion. In his 7 crops of racing age he has produced 56 stakes winners of more than $20,000,000 in career earnings.

Offbeat (1989) ($333,204 21-3-5-6) and Personal Escort (1991) ($58,760 15-2-2-2-) were the only two offspring of Dance Number who did not have significant success in the breeding shed.