Northern Dancer’s countless distant relatives

Despite the fact that I have been following the Northern Dancer bloodlines since my book,  Northern Dancer: the legend and his legacy was published in 1995, I was stunned by the statistics resulting from Dr. Emmiline Hill’s recent study of 10,000 Thoroughbreds which indicate that 97% find Northern Dancer in their genetic makeup.

Northern Dancer. 1964 Kentucky Derby(CP photo)

According to Dr Emmiline Hill: “Inbreeding has always been high in Thoroughbreds, but it is getting higher. It is likely that, unchecked, inbreeding in the Thoroughbred will continue to increase in a market where there is high demand for particular sire lines. The problem with inbreeding is that it can compromise overall population fertility and health. This is a highly significant issue akin to global warming, where inbreeding is accumulating in the population, that must be addressed at an industry-wide level.”

Yet to know the history of Northern Dancer, and from whence he came, is so vastly different.   Not only that, but way back then Eddie Taylor’s Kentucky friends advised him that it was impossible to breed great horses in Canada: “too much ice and snow.”

I continue to maintain that here , amid the ice and snow, we continue to breed the strongest, toughest, Thoroughbreds… but then I am slightly prejudiced.

too be continued



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