Northern Dancer, the ‘revolution,’ and the turning point

Where to begin?  How about something I wrote 25 years ago in Northern Dancer: the legend and his legacy:

“Northern Dancer’s return to the National Stud Farm not only symbolized fulfillment of the dream to raise a Kentucky Derby winner on the farm’s abundant pastures, it proved to be a turning point in the history of the Thoroughbred.

Northern Dancer: legend and legacy: Muriel Lennox

Northern Dancer stood at the vertex between the past and the future of racing and breeding.  He was born of the past – a young man’s passion for Thoroughbreds and  an old man’s wish that his beloved farm not be destroyed by real-estate developers.

He emerged from an age in which owning Thoroughbreds was an expensive hobby and great fortunes were spent maintaining the horses and stables.  Yet Northern Dancer played the pivotal role in changing the Thoroughbred game to one in which horses were a commodity more valuable than gold, and in which the new breed of owner set out to make vast fortunes from these animals.

It was during the mid-1970 that the focus shifted from spending fortunes on horses to making fortunes on horses.  Money was in ample supply, and the players in this new game were looking for a return on investment.  They put their money on Northern Dancer.  By some mystery of nature, he was inordinately prepotent.  At the time there were 7,000 Thoroughbred stallions at stud in the US alone, yet none rivalled Northern Dancer as a sire of winners and champions…”

(an old man’s wish refers to Col Sam MacLaughlin who practically gave his beloved Parkwoods Stable to Eddie Taylor with the promise it would continue as a horse farm.  As Taylor already had built a farm, the magnificent Windfields, to house his own horses, he would turn MacLaughlin’s farm into the National Stud.  The farm would prove a font of spectacular horses.  Colonel Sam would have been so pleased.  Today, however, the once lush green paddocks and meadows are covered in row upon row of housing development.  I suspect Colonel Sam would not be pleased.)

….to be continued


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