Northern Dancer and the tipping point

In 1970, when Nijinsky won the English Derby, attention was focused briefly on Northern Dancer- but only briefly, since Nijinsky did not resemble his sire.  The perception at the time in Great Britain and Europe was that North American horses were bred solely for speed, and they lacked the stamina for the longer distance races.  Northern Dancer’s failure to win the Belmont was seen as evidence of this fundamental weakness.  Nijinsky must have been a fluke.

The Minstrel

Seven years later, when The Minstrel became Northern Dancer’s second son to win the Derby, attention again turned to Northern Dancer.  This time he was taken more seriously.  It wouldn’t be long before Northern Dancer’s offspring were more valuable than gold…

I distinctly recall the afternoon Eddie EP Taylor returned to Windfields estate from Saratoga Springs where he had been busy syndicating The Minstrel.  I was living at Windfields at the time.  My job was to keep the riding horses fit and accompany Taylor whenever he wished to tour the estate and environs on one of his horses.

“This is one you are really going to like,” he told me, “he is so much like Northern Dancer.” Indeed, his trainer, the great Vincent O’Brien, offered that The Minstrel was one of the toughest horses he ever worked with.

So while Nijinsky was clearly one of the most magnificent racehorses in the history of the Thoroughbred, The Minstrel proved to be the tipping point.  For it was this golden colt that catapulted the Thoroughbred world into a buying frenzy that would see stallion prices rocket into the stratosphere….And the new breed of owner set out to make vast fortunes from these animals.  … to be continued

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