Native Dancer has been the topic of recent blog posts from Frank Mitchell and John P. Sparkman, two of the best living bloodstock writers in this country, both formerly only in print, now just as prominent in new media. Frank’s post inspired John’s two. What you’ll find here — aside from good writing — is information that’s relevant to racing and breeding today, and not just from a pedigree standpoint — which is plenty relevant; did you know that Native Dancer’s broodmare sire, Discovery, also was the broodmare sire of Bold Ruler?
A foal of 1950, Native Dancer won 21 of 22 starts from age 2 to 4 and was one of the first equine stars to make it big in the new and growing medium of television, thanks not only to his prowess on the track but to the gray coat of his that made him — along with his good looks — an instantly recognizable black-and-white matinée idol.
In 1953, he won the Preakness — like Rachel Alexandra. Like Rachel Alexandra, he had a huge year as well, winning other races such as the Belmont Stakes, the Wood Memorial, the American Derby, the Arlington Classic, the Travers, the Gotham, and the Withers. His only loss was a narrow and unlucky second in the Kentucky Derby.
He didn’t win Horse of the Year in 1953 because the 4-year-old Tom Fool had an undefeated season, but the next year, with only three starts and one stakes win — the Metropolitan Mile — he did, which could be a precedent for the championship voting this year on several levels.
Native Dancer’s ankles, by John P. Sparkman
A look at Sagamore Farm, then and now.