Not long after I set out to write Northern Dancer’s biography I drove to Maryland to spend time with our great Canadian hero. Sitting on the grass doing little else but watching him for hours on end provided valuable insights into his extraordinary nature. My mission, after all, was to focus on the horse, and not the parade of humans surrounding him.
Six weeks after my visit Northern Dancer passed away.
I was, of course, devastated. And on many fronts. I already knew what Northern Dancer had accomplished, now I wanted to know him. But now he was gone.
Then one afternoon on the Windfields Oshawa farm I was pondering my dilemma as I wandered along the lanes leading to the various stallion paddocks. Next thing I knew, Silver Deputy, the latest addition to the stallion roster, ambled up to the fence. A Northern Dancer great-grandson, Silver Deputy had been injured at two and retired to stud at three. He was now four and as we stood staring at each other I realized he reminded me of Northern Dancer. He had not only inherited the powerful back end, but there was something in his eye – that wisdom, or ‘look of eagles,’ we recognize in the great ones.
And so it was that I deputized him to be my Northern Dancer ‘stand in.’ And I spent many hours sitting beneath the maple tree on the lane outside his paddock.
thanks to Monty Hilliker for sending his Windfields photos and reviving old memories