As all the excitement and controversy around Justify’s Belmont victory abates and Father’s Day looms it seems appropriate to delve further into the grand chestnut colt’s heritage. At the top of the list has to be Nearctic. Indeed the aristocratic, yet enigmatic, horse appears six times in Justify’s family tree.
Nearctic raced in the 1950’s and long before I became enchanted with Thoroughbred racing. Hence I knew little about the horse, except he was sire of Northern Dancer. It wasn’t until I was writing a weekly column for the Japanese magazine, Gallop, that I began to be curious. Finding the truth about Nearctic proved daunting and because of that we realized his story needed to be told. And so, Dark Horse: unraveling the mystery of Nearctic was born in 2001.
Then in 2010, and after years of research, Emmeline Hill, genomics scientist at University College Dublin declared that the spread of the speed gene in Thoroughbreds was due to a single stallion – Nearctic.
So today, on the cusp of Father’s day, my vote for sire of the Century goes to Nearctic.