Mr. Prospector

Last updated
Mr. Prospector
Mr. Prospector.jpg
Mr. Prospector at Claiborne Farm in 1981
Sire Raise a Native
Grandsire Native Dancer
Dam Gold Digger
Damsire Nashua
Sex Stallion
FoaledJanuary 28, 1970 [1]
DiedJune 1, 1999(1999-06-01) (aged 29)
CountryUnited States
Colour Bay
Breeder Leslie Combs II
Owner Aisco Stable
Trainer Jimmy Croll
Record14: 7–4–2
Earnings$112,171 [2]
Major wins
Gravesend Handicap (1974)
Whirlaway Handicap (1974)
Leading sire in North America (1987, 1988)
Leading broodmare sire in North America
(1997–2003, 2005–06)
Grade III Mr. Prospector Stakes at Gulfstream Park
Last updated on April 27, 2020

Mr. Prospector (January 28, 1970 – June 1, 1999) was a Thoroughbred racehorse who became an outstanding breeding stallion and notable sire of sires. A sprinter whose career was cut short by repeated injuries, he won seven of his 14 starts, including the Gravesend Handicap at Aqueduct Racetrack and the Whirlaway Handicap at Garden State Park.


Mr. Prospector began his stallion career in Florida as a regional sire. He proved so successful that he was moved to Kentucky where he became a leading sire and later a leading broodmare sire. His descendants have dominated the United States Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing for several decades and his impact on Thoroughbred bloodlines is felt worldwide.


Mr. Prospector was a bay stallion who was bred in Kentucky by Leslie Combs II, the owner of Spendthrift Farm. His sire was Raise a Native, a son of Native Dancer. Raise a Native was brilliantly fast but unsound, going undefeated in four races at age two before breaking down. Raise a Native became a notable sire but tended to pass on his "heavy-topped" build and other conformation issues associated with unsoundness. [3] By contrast, Mr. Prospector's dam, Gold Digger, was a multiple stakes winning mare known for her toughness and durability. A daughter of Nashua, Gold Digger was from a highly distinguished female family tracing back to champion racemare and "blue hen" Myrtlewood. [4]

Mr. Prospector was the highest-priced horse at the 1971 Keeneland July sale of selected yearlings, selling to A. I. "Butch" Savin for $220,000 (equivalent to $1.41 million in 2020). [5] "Mr. P", as he came to be known, raced for owner Savin under his nom de course, Aisco Stable. The colt was trained by Jimmy Croll, a future Hall of Fame member who went on to train Holy Bull. [6]

At maturity, he reached 16  hands (64 inches, 163 cm) high. [7] He had excellent hindquarters and strong hind legs, but his right forefront was turned-out and his knees were offset, making him vulnerable to injury. [8]

Racing career

Mr. Prospector raced at the same time as Hall of Fame members Secretariat and Forego. Though not of their class, he was the top-ranked sprinter of 1974 on the Daily Racing Form's Free Handicap. [8]

Mr. Prospector did not race at age two, [9] but won his first two starts at age three with "ridiculous ease" before being sidelined by illness. He returned on April 1, 1973, in a six-furlong allowance race at Gulfstream Park, which he won by nine lengths. The time of 1:0745 was a new track record and was only two-fifths of a second off the American record. [10]

He next entered the Calumet Purse on April 17, 1973. In his first start at a distance of more than seven furlongs, he took the early lead but faded in the final quarter-mile to finish third. [11] He next entered the Derby Trial on May 2 as the heavy favorite but finished second after a troubled start. [12] This was his last start at age three. [9]

On February 25, 1974, Mr. Prospector finished third in the Paumonok Handicap at Aqueduct Racetrack as the 1-2 favorite. The crowd reportedly responded to the loss by booing jockey Walter Blum "like rutting moose". [13] He then ran second in the Royal Poinciana on March 6 at Hialeah to Lonetree, who set a track record for seven furlongs. [14]

On April 20, Mr. Prospector won the Whirlaway Handicap at Garden State Racetrack, setting a track record of 1:0835 for six furlongs. [15] He then entered the Carter Handicap at Belmont Park on May 18, where he finished second to eventual Horse of the Year Forego. [16] He then finished fourth at the favorite in a turf race, a surface with which the colt was unfamiliar. [17]

Mr. Prospector returned to the winner's circle in the Gravesend Handicap, held on June 19 at Belmont Park. As the second choice in a field of eight, he settled in second place behind Lonetree, then pulled away to win by five lengths. [17] Mr. Prospector made what would prove his final start on July 4 in the Firecracker Handicap, finishing second. [2] Shortly afterwards, he fractured a sesamoid bone and was retired. [18]

Stud career

Mr. Prospector retired to stud in 1975 at Aisco Farm near Ocala, Florida. As a regional sire with limited support, he exceeded expectations when he became North America's leading freshman sire of 1978. In 1980, he was relocated to historic Claiborne Farm in Kentucky. [8] He became an outstanding sire, leading the North American general sire list in 1978 and 1979. From 1,195 named foals, he sired 182 stakes winners (15.1%). Although primarily known for the success of his offspring on the dirt in North America, he also was a top-ten sire for several years in Europe. [8]

Mr. Prospector sired one winner of each of the Triple Crown races, a feat his grandson, Unbridled, also accomplished. His Triple Crown race winners were 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus; 1985 Preakness Stakes winner Tank's Prospect; and 1982 Belmont Stakes winner and American Horse of the Year Conquistador Cielo. Mr. Prospector's bloodline has been highly influential in the top echelons of Thoroughbred racing. All eight horses entered into the 2015 Belmont Stakes were descendants, through their sires, of Mr. Prospector. [19] [20] [21] [22] [23] [24] [25] [26] Similarly, all of the horses in the 2018 Kentucky Derby were descendants of Mr. Prospector. [27]

Mr. Prospector's stud fee, even without the guarantee of a live foal, peaked at $460,000 in the early and mid-1980s. By March 1994 he was still commanding fees of $170,000-$180,000 even though the market had suffered a downturn. [6] During breeding season, he was often able to "cover" two mares in one day. [28] Mr. Prospector was jointly owned by a 40-member syndicate. [28]

On June 1, 1999, Mr. Prospector died in his stall of complications from colic at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Kentucky. He was buried between Nijinsky and Secretariat.

Major winners

Mr. Prospector's Grade/Group One winners are shown in the table below. [29] The majority raced in North America on the dirt. However, he also had several significant winners in Europe who established more turf-oriented branches of the sire line.

c = colt, f = filly, g = gelding

FoaledNameSexMajor Wins
1976 It's In The Air f Alabama Stakes, Ruffian Handicap, Vanity Handicap
1977 Fappiano c Metropolitan Handicap, Forego Handicap
1977Hello Gorgeousc William Hill Futurity
1978 Miswaki c Prix de la Salamandre
1979 Conquistador Cielo c Belmont Stakes, Metropolitan Handicap
1979Gold Beautyf Test Stakes
1980 Eillo c Breeders' Cup Sprint
1981Procidac Prix de la Forêt, Hollywood Derby
1982 Tank's Prospect c Preakness Stakes
1983Mogamboc Champagne Stakes
1984 Afleet c Jerome Handicap, Canadian Horse of the Year
1984Chic Shirinef Ashland Stakes
1984 Gone West c Dwyer Stakes
1984 Gulch c Hopeful Stakes, Belmont Futurity, Wood Memorial, Metropolitan Handicap, Breeders' Cup Sprint
1984Jade Hunterc Gulfstream Park Handicap, Donn Handicap
1984Miningc Vosburgh Stakes
1985Classic Crownf Frizette Stakes, Gazelle Handicap
1985 Forty Niner c Champagne Stakes
1985 Over All f Spinaway Stakes, Matron Stakes
1985 Ravinella f 1000 Guineas, Cheveley Park Stakes
1985 Seeking The Gold c Super Derby, Dwyer Stakes
1986Fantastic Findf Hempstead Handicap
1986 Quena f Ballerina Stakes, Maskette Stakes, Ruffian Handicap
1986Tersaf Prix Morny
1987Jade Robberyc Grand Critérium
1987 Machiavellian c Prix de la Salamandre, Prix Djebel
1988 Lycius c Middle Park Stakes
1988 Rhythm c Breeders' Cup Juvenile, Travers Stakes
1988Scanc Jerome Handicap
1989Preachf Frizette Stakes
1989 Prospector's Delite f Acorn Stakes, Ashland Stakes
1990Educated Riskf Frizette Stakes, Top Flight Handicap
1990 Kingmambo c Poule d'Essai des Poulains, St. James's Palace Stakes, Prix du Moulin de Longchamp
1990Miner's Markc Jockey Club Gold Cup
1991Coup de Genief Prix Morny, Prix de la Salamandre
1991Distant Viewc Sussex Stakes
1992Macoumbac Prix Marcel Boussac
1992 Smart Strike c Philip H. Iselin Handicap
1993Golden Attractionc Spinaway Stakes, Frizette Stakes, Matron Stakes
1993 Ta Rib f Poule d'Essai des Pouliches
1995Chester Housec Arlington Million
1997 Fusaichi Pegasus c Kentucky Derby
1997 Scatter the Gold c Queen's Plate, Prince of Wales Stakes
1997Traditionallyc Oaklawn Handicap
1998Aldeberanc Metropolitan Handicap, Forego Handicap
1998 Dancethruthedawn f Woodbine Oaks, Queen's Plate, Go For Wand Handicap

Influence on the American Triple Crown

Mr. Prospector's male-line descendants have had great success in the American Triple Crown races, primarily through his sons Fappiano, Forty Niner and Smart Strike who themselves became sires of sires.


Pedigree of Mr. Prospector (USA), bay stallion, 1970 [1]
Raise a Native (USA)
Native Dancer (USA)
Polynesian Unbreakable
Black Polly
Geisha Discovery
Raise You (USA)
Case Ace Teddy
Lady Glory American Flag
Gold Digger (USA)
Nashua (USA)
Nasrullah Nearco
Mumtaz Begum
Segula Johnstown
Sequence (USA)
Count Fleet Reigh Count
Miss Dogwood Bull Dog
Myrtlewood (Family 13-c) [30]


  1. Country House was promoted to first place as the result of Maximum Security's interference.

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  2. 1 2 "Mr. Prospector – Equibase Profile". Equibase. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
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  6. 1 2 Sparkman, John F. (January 16, 2010). "Sire of Sires: Mr. Prospector" (PDF). Thoroughbred Times. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
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  9. 1 2 Strauss, Michael (18 May 1974). "Forego Is Favorite in Carter Handicap at Belmont Park Today". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
  10. "Royal and Regal Scores by Three Lengths in. Florida Derby, Returns $15.20". The New York Times. 1 April 1973. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
  11. "OUR NATIVE RULED KEENELAND VICTOR". The New York Times. 18 April 1973. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
  12. Nichols, Joe (2 May 1973). "MR PROSPECTOR RUNS 2D IN TRIAL TO SETTECENTO". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
  13. Smith, Red (26 February 1974). "So Foul and Fair a Day at the Big A". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
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  16. Strauss, Michael (19 May 1974). "Carter Won By Forego At Belmont". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
  17. 1 2 Nichols, Joe (20 June 1974). "Mr. Prospector Triumphs by 5 Lengths". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
  18. Smith, Red (31 July 1974). "Pure of Heart and $625,000 poorer". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
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  26. "Materiality Pedigree". Equineline. Retrieved June 3, 2015.
  27. Catton, Pia; Wezerek, Gus (May 4, 2018). "Nearly Half The Kentucky Derby Field Is Racing Against A Half-Brother". Fivethirtyeight. Retrieved May 7, 2018.
  28. 1 2 Searcy, Jay (April 13, 1994). "Mr. Prospector: You Can Call Him The King Of Stallions Eighteen Horses Share Stud Duty At Claiborne Farm. This One Has 902 Offspring, And He Isn't Through Yet". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  29. "Mr. Prospector's Stakes Winners (Grade/Group One winners in bold)". Retrieved 3 June 2017.
  30. "Stray Shot – Family 13-c". Thoroughbred Bloodlines. Retrieved 3 January 2015.