Small but mighty was the Northern Dancer.
The beginning of Northern Dancer can be traced back to his dam, Natalma, and his sire, Nearctic. He was bred at a Canadian breeding barn and offered up for sale as a yearling in 1962 for $25,000. After being turned down for his unusually small size (he matured at about 15.2 hands on a good day), he was received by Windfield Farm to be trained by Horatio Luro. Northern Dancer rose to his owner’s expectations as a two-year old after winning the Summer Stakes, the Coronation Futurity in Canada, and the Remsen Stakes in New York. Overall, Northern Dancer collected an impressive status as a two-year old after he racked up a seven victory to nine start ratio. His owner, E.P. Taylor, kept his expectations for his horse great and his faith higher as he watched him live up to his hopes. Northern Dancer continued to sweep the racing world off their feet with victories at the Flamingo Stakes, Florida Derby, and the Bluegrass Stakes. His victories were emphasized by his win at the Kentucky Derby in 1964. The Canadian champions continued to race, dominating races such as the Queen’s Plate, before he was retired as North America’s Champion three-year-old. Northern Dancer continued to establish his legacy as he sired foals well into the 1980’s. The award-winning thoroughbred produced foals that were extremely versatile in terms of sprinting, stamina, and overall pleasing dispositions. His offspring became notorious for their incredible athleticism, continuing to win prestigious races in England and Ireland. Naturally, some foals resembling his short and muscular body structure are referred to as “Northern Dancers” or the “Northern Dancer type” and were heavily sought after.
Northern Dancer was put to sleep after a sudden onset of colic, in which the treatment would have been both unethical and insensitive. He lives on through his extensive line of offspring and in the hearts of horse enthusiasts everywhere as the embodiment of the phrase, “Big things come in small packages.”