Native Dancer

Last updated
Native Dancer
Native Dancer (USA).jpg
Native Dancer, the Gray Ghost
Sire Polynesian
Grandsire Unbreakable
Damsire Discovery
Sex Stallion
FoaledMarch 27, 1950
DiedNovember 16, 1967(1967-11-16) (aged 17)
Country United States
Colour Gray
Breeder Alfred G. Vanderbilt II
Owner Alfred G. Vanderbilt II
Racing colors: Cerise, white diamonds, cerise, sleeves, white cap.
Trainer William C. Winfrey
Record22: 21-1-0
Earnings$785,240 [1]
Major wins
Youthful Stakes (1952)
Flash Stakes (1952)
Saratoga Special Stakes (1952)
Grand Union Hotel Stakes (1952)
Hopeful Stakes (1952)
Futurity Stakes (1952)
East View Stakes (1952)
Gotham Stakes (1953)
Wood Memorial (1953)
Withers Stakes (1953)
Dwyer Stakes (1953)
Arlington Classic (1953)
Travers Stakes (1953)
American Derby (1953)
Metropolitan Handicap (1954)

American Classic Race wins:
Preakness Stakes (1953)
Belmont Stakes (1953)
American Champion Two-Year-Old Colt (1952)
TSB/TRA Horse of the Year (1952)
American Champion Three-Year-Old Male Horse (1953)
American Champion Older Male Horse (1954)
American Horse of the Year (1954)
U.S. Racing Hall of Fame (1963)
Maryland State Athletic Hall of Fame (2014)
#7 - Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century
Statue at Centennial Park in Saratoga Springs

Native Dancer (March 27, 1950 – November 16, 1967), nicknamed the Gray Ghost, was one of the most celebrated and accomplished Thoroughbred racehorses in American history and was the first horse made famous through the medium of television. He was a champion in each of his three years of racing, and was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1963. In the Blood-Horse magazine List of the Top 100 Racehorses of the 20th Century, he was ranked seventh.


As a two-year-old, he was undefeated in his nine starts and was voted Horse of the Year in two of three major industry polls – One Count won the other. At age three, he suffered the sole defeat in his career in the 1953 Kentucky Derby, but rebounded to win the Preakness, Belmont and Travers Stakes. He made only three starts at age four before being retired due to injury, but was still named American Horse of the Year.

Retired to stud in 1955, he became a major sire whose offspring included champion Raise A Native and dual Classic winner Kauai King. Also an influential broodmare sire, Native Dancer is now "all but universal" in modern pedigrees. [2]


Native Dancer was bred by Alfred G. Vanderbilt, Jr. and raced for him as a homebred. He was foaled at Scott Farm near Lexington, Kentucky but was raised at Vanderbilt's Sagamore Farm in Glyndon, Maryland, and is generally considered a Maryland-bred. [3] Native Dancer was sired by the 1945 Preakness Stakes winner, Polynesian, who was otherwise known as a sprinter. [4] His dam Geisha won only once in her eleven starts and produced no other stakes winners, though her daughter Orientation became a multiple stakes producer. [5] [6] Geisha was sired by Discovery, an outstanding distance horse and weight-carrier. Discovery was also the broodmare sire of leading sire Bold Ruler. [7]

Native Dancer inherited his gray coat, then quite rare in Thoroughbreds, through the female line to his fourth dam, La Grisette, a daughter of Roi Herode. Roi Herode was also the sire of The Tetrarch, the "spotted wonder". Most modern gray Thoroughbreds can trace their coat to Roi Herode and his grandsire Le Sancy. [8]

From his earliest days, Native Dancer was considered "an extremely nice colt". Ralph Kerchaval, the manager of Sagamore Farm, said that "he was playful, big and rough, but you could do anything with him." [3] At maturity, Native Dancer stood 16.3  hands (67 inches, 170 cm) at the withers. According to Charles Hatton of the Daily Racing Form, Native Dancer looked like a sprinter from the front and a stayer from the back. He was a massive horse with "suspicious-looking ankles". His pastern bones were short and somewhat too upright, making him more vulnerable to injury. He had a notably long stride but his action was hard and pounding. [2] Trainer Bill Winfrey said the colt was "a regular Jekyll and Hyde" – ordinarily quiet and tractable but with a playful streak that could make him a handful. [9]

Racing record

1952: two-year-old campaign

In his first season of racing, Native Dancer won all nine starts. He was voted the American Champion Two-Year-Old Colt for 1952, with two of the three major polls also naming him Horse of the Year.

Native Dancer made his first start on April 19, 1952 in a maiden race at Jamaica Racetrack over five furlongs. Going off at odds of 7-5 in a field of nine, he settled into fourth place down the backstretch, then started a strong drive in the middle of the turn to win by 4 12 lengths. [10] Just four days later, he returned in the Youthful Stakes where he was made the odds-on favorite in a field of twelve. He pressed a fast early pace set by Retrouve then pulled away in the stretch to win by six lengths. [11] The victory established the colt as the early leader of the two-year-old division. [12]

Native Dancer was then given a layoff to recover from sore shins. He returned to racing on the opening day of Saratoga Race Course, August 4, in the Flash Stakes over 5 12 furlongs. Again the odds-on favorite, he was ridden hard around the turn before drawing away in the stretch to win by 2 14 lengths. [12] On August 16, he entered the Saratoga Special, noteworthy at the time for having a winner-takes-all purse of $17,000. He won by 3 12 lengths over a muddy track. [13] He followed up by winning the Grand Union Hotel Stakes on August 23, defeating two previously undefeated colts – Tahitian King and Lafango. He won by 3 12 lengths while running the fastest six furlongs at that year's Saratoga meeting, 1:1115. [14] He completed his dominance at Saratoga by winning the Hopeful Stakes on the meeting's closing day, August 31. Jockey Eric Guerin said, "I never had a second of worry. He took off when I asked him to." [15]

Native Dancer made his next start on September 22 at Belmont Park in a six-furlong special weight race. He broke in fifth place in the field of six, then steadily improved his position to win by 1 14 lengths. [16] Just five days later, he returned in the Belmont Futurity, then one of the most prestigious races for two-year-olds in the United States. He turned in a "superlative performance" to win while tying the world record for 6 12 furlongs, 1:1425. He had been hard pressed though: Guerin admitted that he had thought the colt was beaten with an eighth of a mile remaining when he was headed by Tahitian King. But Native Dancer responded in the final furlong to open a 2 14 lead advantage. He became the first gray horse to win the race. [17]

Native Dancer made his final start as a two-year-old in the East View Stakes at Jamaica on October 22 over a distance of 1 116 miles. He won with ease, "wiggling his ears and having much fun" as he crossed the finish line 1 12 lengths ahead of Laffango, who had earlier won the Champagne Stakes. Guerin confirmed that Native Dancer had eased himself after taking the lead at the head of the stretch. "He's not going to do any more than you make him do," he said. "I never hit him with the whip." [18]

Native Dancer finished the year with nine wins, seven of them in stakes races, and earnings of $230,245, then a record for a two-year-old. He had been the odds-on favorite in all but his first start. [18] He was named the American Champion Two-Year-Old. The Thoroughbred Racing Association also named him the American Horse of the Year, a "break with tradition" as two-year-olds are not normally considered for the award since they typically only race against horses of the same age. [19] The Turf and Sports Digest, polling 176 sportswriters, also awarded him Horse of the Year honors [20] However, the Daily Racing Form voted instead for One Count, winner of the Belmont and Jockey Club Gold Cup. [21]

He was assigned 130 pounds in the Experimental Free Handicap, seven pounds ahead of Laffango and Tahitian King. [22]

1953: three-year-old campaign

In his three-year-old campaign, Native Dancer received a great deal of media attention leading up to the 1953 Kentucky Derby. He won the Gotham Stakes and the prestigious Wood Memorial, but in the 1953 Kentucky Derby, he lost for the only time in his career. Native Dancer subsequently won the Preakness, Belmont and Travers Stakes, a feat accomplished until then only by Duke of Magenta, Grenada, Man o' War and Whirlaway. Native Dancer finished the season with nine wins (all of them stakes races) from ten starts and was named Champion Three-Year-Old Colt.

Preparing for the Triple Crown

Native Dancer was given some time off at the end of his two-year-old campaign, then resumed training in California at Santa Anita Racetrack. He gave his connections a scare in late January when he threw his exercise rider after stumbling to his knees following a workout. He then bolted and was loose for five minutes, running into the paddock where he jumped some benches and ran through flower beds. When he tangled a leg in the reins, he finally slowed down enough to be recaptured. No serious damage was done. [23]

He was shipped to New York in mid-March [24] and made his first start of the year in the Gotham Stakes on April 18. As the race attracted 18 entries, it was run in two divisions, with Native Dancer the odds-on favorite is his division and Laffango the favorite in the second division. [25] He raced in mid-pack during the early part of the race, then "did a bit of hustling" turning into the stretch to take the lead. He won under a hand ride by two lengths. [4] Sportswriter George Ryall wrote, "Any question in your mind about Native Dancer is easy to answer; he's as good as you thought." [26]

Native Dancer extended his winning streak to eleven in the Wood Memorial on April 25. Going off as the 1-10 favorite, he was restrained until the top of the stretch, then "whizzed away" from his rivals to win by 4 12 lengths over Tahitian King. [27]

The Gotham and Wood Memorial were both televised by NBC. Native Dancer's gray coat helped him stand out on the black and white screens of the day, helping him to become the first TV star of the sport. [28]

Kentucky Derby

The 1953 Kentucky Derby, held on May 2, was the sole loss of Native Dancer's career. [29] He dominated news coverage leading up to the race and was the odds-on favorite. [30] His main rival was supposed to have been Correspondent, who had won three straight, including the Blue Grass Stakes in which he set a track record. [31] Dark Star won the Derby Trial a few days before the Derby but was largely dismissed by the bettors at odds of 25-1. [32]

Dark Star, starting from the next-to-outside post position, went to the early lead and moved over to the rail. Native Dancer was eighth as they went down the stretch for the first time and was then bumped by longshot Money Maker as they entered the first turn. He started to make up ground on the final turn while racing wide, then was moved to the inside as he entered the stretch in third place. Still nearly three lengths behind, Guerin went to the whip and Native Dancer gradually closed ground. Dark Star held his position on the rail so Native Dancer was swung to the outside. He continued to edge closer with each stride but fell just short, losing by a head. [32] [33]

In addition to Native Dancer being fouled on the first turn, Guerin commented after the race that the colt had not cared for the track. [32] However, Guerin was given a large share of the blame for the loss because of his racing tactics. One reporter wrote, "he took that colt everywhere on the track except the ladies' room." [34] Native Dancer was farther back than usual in the early part of the race, which resulted in more traffic problems. Instead of mounting a single drive on the outside, Guerin changed position several times in the final quarter of a mile, costing the colt momentum. Guerin later explained, "He just didn't want to run early. And when he didn't want to run, he didn't run." [33]

Time magazine later reported, "When he lost the Kentucky Derby by a head, thousands turned from their TV screens in sorrow, a few in tears." As a measure of Native Dancer's growing fame, Time added, "Hundreds of people, old and young, have sent him letters and greeting cards. Little girls have organized fan clubs in his name." [35]

Native Dancer made his next start in the Withers Stakes on May 16 at Belmont Park. Facing only two other horses, he went off as the 1-20 favorite (the legal minimum) with win-only betting allowed. Native Dancer stumbled when leaving the starting gate but quickly recovered. He took a narrow lead about three furlongs from the finish and opened a significant margin around the eighth pole when Guerin flicked his whip. The final margin was four lengths. [36]

Preakness Stakes

On May 23, Native Dancer entered the Preakness Stakes as the 1-5 favorite. He again faced Dark Star, who set a fast early pace with Tahitian King to his outside. Native Dancer rated in fourth position on the rail, then started his move on the final turn, splitting between the two front runners. Tahitian King dropped back and eventually finished sixth. At the head of the stretch, Dark Star also gave way, leaving Native Dancer alone on the lead. However, longshot Jamie K then started to close ground rapidly. Guerin went to the whip and Native Dancer responded to win by a neck. Guerin admitted that he had been worried. "When Dark Star stopped, I found myself in the lead a little sooner than I wanted," he said. [37] It was later determined that Dark Star had bowed a tendon during the race: he never raced again. [38]

Besides being the odds-on favorite to win, Native Dancer was so heavily bet to show that it created a minus pool. A show bet pays if the horse finishes in the top three positions, and the legal minimum payout in Maryland at the time was $2.20 for a $2 bet. In order to cover the bets plus the associated taxes, the Maryland Jockey Club had to pay $46,012 (equivalent to $440,000in 2019) into the pool. [37]

The trophy for the Preakness is the Woodlawn Vase, considered the most valuable trophy in sports with a value of roughly $4 million. Before 1954, the vase itself was given to the winning owner, who kept it for the following year. In 1954 though, Vanderbilt declined to take the original trophy home and instead was given a replica. This set a new tradition where the original Woodlawn Vase is displayed at Pimlico on Preakness day but otherwise resides at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Vanderbilt's replica trophy was sold at auction in 2018 for $100,000. [39]

Belmont Stakes

Native Dancer was shipped to Belmont Park on May 24. He was walked the next two days to recover from the Preakness, then resumed galloping in the morning. He had several timed workouts in the interval leading up to the Belmont: 58 mile in 1:04 on May 30, a mile in 1:4415 on June 1, 38 mile in 0:3535 on June 4, 1 14 miles in 2:07 on June 5, 1 12 miles in 2:3825 on June 9, and 34 mile in 1:1325 on June 12. [40] Training practices have since changed dramatically. For example, California Chrome had only one timed workout in the three weeks between the 2014 Preakness and Belmont. [41]

The Belmont Stakes, run on June 13, was a similar race to the Preakness. Native Dancer was again the heavy favorite, and the New York Racing Association did not allow show betting. Ram o' War set the early pace with Native Dancer biding his time in fourth place around the first turn. He was tracked closely by Jamie K and the two horses started their move together on the final turn. Jamie K briefly took the lead as they entered the stretch, but Native Dancer fought back. The two colts dueled for the final furlong, with Native Dancer again prevailing by a neck. He completed the 1 12 miles in 2:2835, then the third-fastest running of the race behind Count Fleet and Citation. [40]

"He doesn't win in a flashy sort of a way," said Winfrey, "but he keeps on winning. The Belmont is supposed to be 'the test of the champion' and if it is, he certainly answered the question." [42]

To date, Native Dancer is one of only two "dual Classic winners" to come from the state of Maryland (the other being his son Kauai King, who won the 1966 Kentucky Derby and Preakness).

Summer campaign

Winfrey planned a busy summer campaign to keep his "lazy so-and-so" active. [42] Native Dancer responded to the challenge, winning the Dwyer, Arlington Classic, Travers and American Derby in quick succession. On July 4, he went off as the 1-20 favorite in the Dwyer Stakes. He took the lead near the head of the stretch, "loafed for a while, exerted himself just a bit in the final yards," and won by 1 34 lengths. Carrying 126 pounds, he conceded 10 pounds to each of his four rivals. Even though win-only betting was allowed, Native Dancer still created a small minus pool with a mandatory minimum payout of $2.10 for a $2 bet. [43]

Native Dancer then traveled to Chicago for the Arlington Classic, run over a distance of a mile on a heavy track on July 18. His main rivals were expected to be Jamie K and Van Crosby, who had equaled the track record for seven furlongs in his previous start. Native Dancer carried 128 pounds, conceding six pounds to each of his seven rivals. As expected, Van Crosby set the pace, but was run down by Native Dancer turning into the stretch. Native Dancer continued to draw away and won by nine lengths, the biggest margin of victory of his career. Longshot Sir Mango closed late for second; Jamie K was never a factor. [44]

On August 15, Native Dancer made his next start in the prestigious Travers Stakes at Saratoga. He conceded six pounds to Dictar and twelve to the other three entrants. In the walking ring, he was surrounded by a throng of fans looking for photographs. "It's the way people act when the president goes by in a parade," commented one man. Native Dancer maintained his calm. At the break, Fly Wheel took the early lead but soon dropped back. Guardian II then took over the lead for a few lengths before Dictar took command on the backstratch. Native Dancer bided his time until the 316 pole, then powered away to win by 5 12 lengths ahead of Dictar. Native Dancer again created minus pools in the win and place betting – show betting was not allowed. [45]

Guerin was suspended for an incident in another race [46] and so missed Native Dancer's next start, the American Derby on August 22. Eddie Arcaro got the mount after the horse he had been scheduled to ride, Jamie K, was withdrawn from the race. [47] Arcaro had previously questioned Native Dancer's credentials, saying, "All the Dancer has done is go around beating the same horses, and most of the time carrying equal weight." He had also questioned the horse's soundness. After galloping him for the first time though, he said, "He's a big, powerful animal. He handled well and had a good disposition." [48]

Travelling back to Chicago, Native Dancer went off as the 1-10 favorite in a field of eight in the American Derby on August 22. He settled near the back of the pack behind a fast early pace set by Sir Mango. Entering the far turn, Native Dancer moved to the outside and into fourth place. Without any urging, he surged forward rounding the far turn and won by two lengths. He completed the 1 18-mile race in 1:4815, just one-fifth of a second off the track record. [49] Arcaro believed that the colt could have broken the record if urged. "But he was winning, so I didn't see any point in pressing him," he said. "I let him run his own race." Despite the easy win, Arcaro still believed that Native Dancer had something to prove. He rated Citation as the best horse he had ever ridden. [50]

While Native Dancer was having a noteworthy campaign in the three-year-old division, Tom Fool was enjoying an equally brilliant one as a four-year-old. Racetracks began to alter stakes schedules and purses in hopes of having the two champions face off. For example, Pimlico increased the purse for the Pimlico Special to $50,000. Belmont Park followed suit by increasing the purse and changing the date of the Sysonby Stakes. [51] [52] The hopes for a race between the two died when several bruises were found on Native Dancer's left forefoot after the American Derby. He missed the rest of the year. [53]

Native Dancer was named champion three-year-old by all three major industry polls. However, in the Horse of the Year voting, he came second behind Tom Fool, who had won all ten of his starts. [54] [55]

1954: four-year-old campaign

In 1954, Native Dancer won all three races he entered, including the Metropolitan Handicap. His connections hoped to complete the New York Handicap Triple, or perhaps race in Europe on the turf. However, Native Dancer was retired as a result of a recurring foot injury with a record of 21 wins out of 22 lifetime races.

At the beginning of the 1954, Native Dancer was in Maryland where he spent the winter at Sagamore Farm. By February, he was galloping three miles a day. He was then was shipped to New York in late March to resume training with Winfrey. He now faced a new challenge: as an older horse, he would be expected to carry high weight imposts in the handicap format pervasive at the time. His connections considered sending him to England to compete in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes if the weights got too high. [56] Vanderbilt also discussed entering the colt in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in France. [57]

Native Dancer made his first start of the year in a six furlong allowance race at Belmont Park on May 7. He went off at odds of 3-20 in a seven horse field, with Laffango the second choice at 7-1. He raced in mid-pack for the first half-mile, then "took the lead in about three huge strides." After hitting the front near the top of the stretch, Native Dancer relaxed but still won by 1 14 lengths. [58]

On May 15, Native Dancer entered the Metropolitan Handicap, in which he was assigned 130 pounds – from 13 to 24 pounds more than his eight rivals. He raced further back then usual, trailing by ten lengths with a half mile remaining and still seven lengths back at the quarter pole. Down the stretch, Guerin hit him four times with the whip. Native Dancer "answered the question" and lengthened his stride. He closed steadily, getting his nose in front with just 30 yards remaining. He completed the mile in 1:3515, then the second-fastest running of the race in its history. [59]

Native Dancer was supposed to make his next start in the Suburban Handicap, then part of the New York Handicap Triple (consisting of the Metropolitan, Suburban and Brooklyn Handicaps). However, after a workout in late May, he showed signs of lameness. Heating was found in the coronet band on his right fore, though X-rays showed nothing. Winfrey originally gave the colt a 50% chance of being fit for the Suburban. [60] Native Dancer worked three furlongs on May 27 but pulled up lame. His connections ruled him out of the Suburban. [61]

Native Dancer finally returned to racing at Saratoga on August 16 in the Oneonta Handicap, run at a distance of seven furlongs over a sloppy track. He was assigned 137 pounds, conceding his rivals from 18 to 30 pounds. Even with the handicap, only two horses faced him so betting was not allowed. He won easily by nine lengths in 1:2445, just 1 45 seconds off the track record despite the track conditions. [62]

His next target was the Saratoga Cup but he showed signs of lameness after a 10-furlong workout on August 22, again in the right forefoot. Veterinarian William Wright diagnosed the problem as a "bruised digital cushion, with a secondary inflammation of the bursae between the navicular and coffin bone." He was retired with a record of 21 wins from 22 starts, and earnings of $785,420, then fourth all-time behind Citation, Stymie and Armed. [63]

Native Dancer was voted the United States Horse of the Year for 1954, beating High Gun by 19 votes to 11 in the Daily Racing Form poll [64] and winning the TRA award for the second time. [65] He appeared on the May 31 cover of Time magazine. Many consider the "Gray Ghost of Sagamore" to have been the first Thoroughbred television star and TV Guide ranked him as a top icon of the era". [34] [66]


DateAgeDistanceRaceTrackOddsFieldFinishWinning TimeWinning
Apr 19, 19522Maiden Special WeightJamaica910:5935 [10]
Apr 23, 19522 Youthful Stakes Jamaica1210:5925 [11]
Aug 4, 19522 Flash Stakes Saratoga711:06 [12]
Aug 16, 19522 Saratoga Special Saratoga811:1315 [13]
Aug 23, 19522 Grand Union Hotel Stakes Saratoga511:1115 [14]
Aug 30, 19522 Hopeful Stakes Saratoga711:1845 [15]
Sep 22, 19522Special WeightBelmont Park811:0935 [16]
Sep 27, 19522 Belmont Futurity Belmont Park1011:1425 [lower-alpha 1] [17]
Oct 23, 19522 East View Stakes Jamaica611:4415 [18]
Apr 18, 19533 Gotham Stakes Jamaica911:4415 [4]
Apr 25, 19533 Wood Memorial Jamaica711:5035 [27]
May 2, 19533 Kentucky Derby Churchill Downs1122:02 [32]
May 16, 19533 Withers Stakes Belmont Park311:3615 [36]
May 23, 19533 Preakness Stakes Pimlico711:5745 [37]
Jun 13, 19533 Belmont Stakes Belmont Park612:2835 [40]
Jul 4, 19533 Dwyer Stakes Aqueduct512:0515 [43]
Jul 18, 19533 Arlington Classic Arlington Park811:389 lengths [44]
Aug 15, 19533 Travers Stakes Saratoga512:0535 [45]
Aug 22, 19533 American Derby Washington Park811:4825 [49]
May 7, 19544AllowanceBelmont Park711:1145 [58]
May 15, 19544 Metropolitan Handicap Belmont Park911:3515 [59]
Aug 1, 19544Oneonta HandicapSaratogan/a [lower-alpha 2] 311:2415 [62]
  1. tied the world record
  2. wagering was not allowed

Stud record

At stud, Native Dancer sired 43 stakes winners (or 44 according to one source) from 306 foals. [2] His male-line descendants, particularly through his grandson Mr. Prospector, have dominated the US Triple Crown races. He is also the damsire of Northern Dancer, arguably the most influential stallion of the 20th century.

Although Native Dancer never led the American sire list, he did finish second in 1966 and sixth in 1965. He was also second in the English sire list of 1963, and seventh in the French sire list of 1963. [2]

Among Native Dancer's notable offspring are: [2] [67] [68]

Native Dancer's bloodline is credited with creating "precocious, speedy Thoroughbreds that dominate the Derby and other Triple Crown events." By 2008, every entrant in the Kentucky Derby was a descendant. However, he is also faulted for passing on his massive build and hard-pounding stride action, rendering many of his descendants vulnerable to injury. In the mid-2000s, there had been a troubling number of high profile breakdowns, including that of Barbaro (who was distantly related to Native Dancer through his dam.) As the grandsire of both Mr. Prospector and Northern Dancer, the two most important sires of the late twentieth century, a certain degree of inbreeding to Native Dancer became inevitable, potentially exacerbating the issue. "There's a lack of durability right now," said Ric Waldman, the former head of operations for Windfields Farm. "We're dealing with the law of diminishing returns." [66] Vanderbilt's son Alfred G. Vanderbilt defended the stallion's legacy. "All these great horses are not descended from him because he's fragile," he said. "They're descended because he was a champion and he was durable." [72]

Native Dancer died on November 16, 1967, following the surgical removal of a tumor on the wall of the small intestine. He was buried at Sagamore Farm. [73] [74]


Native Dancer was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1963. [75] He was inducted into the Maryland State Athletic Hall of Fame in 2014. [76]

In the Blood-Horse magazine ranking of the top 100 U.S. thoroughbred champions of the 20th century, Native Dancer was ranked #7. [77] In the Associated Press rankings of the greatest racehorses of the 20th century, he was ranked #3, tied with Citation, behind only Man o' War and Secretariat. [78]

In August 2015, a statue of Native Dancer by Gwen Reardon was unveiled at Centennial Park in Saratoga Springs. The statue was donated to the city by Marylou Whitney and John Hendrickson. Native Dancer was undefeated in his six starts at nearby Saratoga Race Course. [79]


Pedigree of Native Dancer (USA), grey stallion, 1950 [80]
Sickle (GB) Phalaris (GB)
Selene (GB)
Blue Grass (FR) Prince Palatine (GB)
Hour Glass
Black Polly
Polymelian (GB) Polymelus (GB)
Pasquita (GB)
Black Queen Pompey
Black Maria
Geisha (USA)
Display Fair Play
Cicuta (GB)
AriadneLight Brigade (GB)
John P. Grier Whisk Broom II
La Chica
La Grisette (IRE)

Native Dancer is shown as descending from (family 5-f), [2] [81] which traces back to the Bazajet Mare. However, the female descendants of his third-dam La Chica have a type of mitochondrial DNA that is inconsistent with other descendants of this family. As mitochondrial DNA is passed exclusively in the female line, this indicates a pedigree error occurred at some point between the Bazajet Mare's foaling in 1754 and La Chica's in 1930. [82]

See also

Related Research Articles

Belmont Stakes American stakes race for Thoroughbreds, part of the Triple Crown

The Belmont Stakes is an American Grade I stakes race for three-year-old Thoroughbreds run at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York. Colts and geldings carry a weight of 126 pounds (57 kg); fillies carry 121 pounds (55 kg). The race, nicknamed The Test of the Champion and The Run for the Carnations, is the traditional third and final leg of the Triple Crown. It is usually held on the first or second Saturday in June, five weeks after the Kentucky Derby and three weeks after the Preakness Stakes. The 1973 Belmont Stakes and Triple Crown winner Secretariat holds the mile and a half stakes record of 2:24.

Northern Dancer Canadian-bred Thoroughbred racehorse

Northern Dancer was a Thoroughbred who in 1964 became the first Canadian-bred horse to win the Kentucky Derby. He then became one of the most successful sires of the 20th century. He is considered a Canadian icon, and was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1965. Induction into the Racing Hall of Fame in both Canada and the United States followed in 1976. As a competitor, The Blood-Horse ranked him as one of the top 100 U.S. Thoroughbred racehorses of the 20th century. As a sire of sires, his impact on the breed is still felt worldwide.

Seattle Slew American-bred Thoroughbred racehorse

Seattle Slew was an American Thoroughbred race horse who won the Triple Crown in 1977 — the tenth of thirteen horses to accomplish the feat. He is one of two horses to have won the Triple Crown while having been undefeated in any previous race; the second was Justify, who won the Triple Crown in 2018 and who is descended from Seattle Slew. Honored as the 1977 Horse of the Year, he was also a champion at ages two, three, and four. In the Blood-Horse magazine List of the Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century Seattle Slew was ranked ninth.

Mr. Prospector American-bred Thoroughbred racehorse

Mr. Prospector 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.

Afleet Alex is an American thoroughbred race horse who, in 2005, won two of America's classic races, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. He is owned by the Cash Is King Stable partnership, was trained by Tim Ritchey and was ridden by Jeremy Rose. In twelve lifetime starts, Alex won eight times, placed twice, and came in third once over 12 starts, for lifetime earnings of $2,765,800.

Sunday Silence American-bred Thoroughbred racehorse

Sunday Silence was an American-bred Thoroughbred racehorse and Sire. In 1989, he won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes but failed to complete the Triple Crown when he was defeated in the Belmont Stakes. Later in the same year, he won the Breeders' Cup Classic and was voted American Champion Three-Year-Old Colt and American Horse of the Year. Sunday Silence's racing career was marked by his rivalry with Easy Goer, whom he had a three to one edge over in their head-to-head races. Easy Goer, the 1988 American Champion Two-Year-Old Colt finished second to Sunday Silence in the Kentucky Derby by ​2 12 lengths and the Preakness by a nose then in the Breeders' Cup Classic by a neck. Easy Goer prevailed by eight lengths in the Belmont. Both horses were later voted into the American Hall of Fame.

Easy Goer American Thoroughbred racehorse

Easy Goer was an American Champion Hall of Fame Thoroughbred racehorse known for earning American Champion Two-Year-Old Colt honors in 1988 and defeating 1989 American Horse of the Year Sunday Silence in the Belmont Stakes by eight lengths. Both horses were later voted into the American Hall of Fame. The victory deprived Sunday Silence of the Triple Crown. It was also the second-fastest Belmont in history, behind only the record performance of Secretariat in 1973. Easy Goer was the first two-year-old champion to win a Triple Crown race since Spectacular Bid in 1979. Easy Goer also ran the fastest mile on dirt by any three-year-old in the history of Thoroughbred racing with a time of ​1:32 25, which was a second faster than Secretariat's stakes record, and one-fifth of a second off of the world record set by Dr. Fager in 1968.

Bold Ruler was an American Thoroughbred Hall of Fame racehorse who was named the 1957 Horse of the Year after a three-year-old campaign that included wins in the Preakness Stakes and Trenton Handicap, in which he defeated fellow Hall of Fame inductees Round Table and Gallant Man. He was also named American Champion Sprinter at age four. On retirement, he became the leading sire in North America eight times between 1963 and 1973, the most of any sire in the twentieth century. He is now best known as the sire of Triple Crown winner Secretariat, and was also the grandsire of Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew. He was an outstanding sire of sires, whose modern descendants include many classic winners such as California Chrome.

Charismatic was an American Thoroughbred racehorse best known for winning the first two legs of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing in 1999.

Deputy Minister was a Canadian-bred Thoroughbred horse racing Champion. At age two, he won eight out of his nine starts and was voted both the Sovereign and Eclipse Awards for Champion 2-Year-Old in Canada and the United States respectively. He also received Canada's Sovereign Award for Horse of the Year. Although his three-year-old campaign was restricted by injury, Deputy Minister rebounded at age four with several major wins.

Rags to Riches (horse) American-bred Thoroughbred racehorse

Rags to Riches is an American thoroughbred racehorse who in 2007 became the first filly to win the Belmont Stakes in over a century.

Raise a Native American-bred Thoroughbred racehorse

Raise a Native was an undefeated Thoroughbred racehorse that was named 1963 champion two-year-old colt in the Turf and Sport Digest poll and was the highest rated juvenile in the Experimental Free Handicap. He sired 74 stakes winners, including Majestic Prince and Alydar. In its 1988 obituary for the horse, The New York Times called him "the most influential sire of American Thoroughbred stallions over the last 20 years".

Johren (1915–1932) was a Thoroughbred racehorse who competed in the United States. His most important win came in the 1918 Belmont Stakes.

Big Brown American-bred Thoroughbred racehorse

Big Brown is a retired American Thoroughbred racehorse best known for winning the 2008 Kentucky Derby and 2008 Preakness Stakes. He suffered his only defeat in the 2008 Belmont Stakes and was later named the champion three-year-old colt of 2008.

Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing (United States) American Thoroughbred horse racing honor for winning three specific stakes races as a three-year-old

In the United States, the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, commonly known as the Triple Crown, is a title awarded to a three-year-old Thoroughbred horse who wins the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes. The three races were inaugurated in different years, the last being the Kentucky Derby in 1875. The Triple Crown Trophy, commissioned in 1950 but awarded to all previous winners as well as those after 1950, is awarded to a Triple Crown winner. The races are traditionally run in May and early June of each year, although global events have resulted in schedule adjustments, such as in 1945 and 2020.

Pine Bluff (horse) American Thoroughbred racehorse

Pine Bluff was an American Thoroughbred racehorse. Bred and raced by John Ed Anthony's Loblolly Stable, he was a son of Danzig and grandson of the 20th century's most important sire in the United States, Northern Dancer. His dam, Rowdy Angel, was a daughter of two-time North American Champion sire Halo.

Hasty Road (1951–1978) was an American thoroughbred racehorse which won the 1954 Preakness Stakes. In 1953, Hasty Road won six of his nine races including the Arlington Futurity and the Washington Park Futurity, and set a record for prize money won by a two-year-old. In 1954 Hasty Road defeated Determine in track record time in the Derby Trial and then finished second to the same horse in the Kentucky Derby. At Pimlico Race Course in May he recorded his most important victory when winning the Preakness Stakes by a neck from Correlation. The rest of his three-year-old campaign wasn't as good, but he returned to form to win the Widener Handicap in February 1955 before his racing career was ended by injury.

Tom Fool American Thoroughbred racehorse

Tom Fool was an American Thoroughbred racehorse, a winner of the American Horse of the Year award and a Hall of Fame inductee. He sired the outstanding racehorses Buckpasser and Tim Tam.

American Pharoah American-bred Thoroughbred racehorse

American Pharoah is an American Thoroughbred racehorse who won the American Triple Crown and the Breeders' Cup Classic in 2015. He was the 12th Triple Crown winner in history, and in winning all four races, became the first horse to win the Grand Slam of Thoroughbred racing. He won the 2015 Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year and 2015 Champion three-year-old. He was bred and owned throughout his racing career by Ahmed Zayat of Zayat Stables, trained by Bob Baffert, and ridden in most of his races by Victor Espinoza. He now stands at stud at Ashford Stud in Kentucky.

Mother Goose was an American Thoroughbred racehorse who was named the American Co-Champion Two-Year-Old Filly of 1924. From the 128 runnings of the Belmont Futurity Stakes since its inception in 1888, through 2019 Mother Goose is one of only thirteen fillies to have ever won the event. The Mother Goose Stakes at New York's Belmont Park is named in her honor.


  1. "Native Dancer Profile". Retrieved 18 July 2019.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Hunter, Avalyn. "Native Dancer (horse)". American Classic Pedigrees. Retrieved 18 July 2019.
  3. 1 2 "Everyone Wants to Get in the Act, But Native Dancer Is Maryland's". The New York Times. 5 April 1953. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  4. 1 2 3 Roach, James (19 April 1953). "38,201 AT JAMAICA SEE NATIVE DANCER WIN 10TH STRAIGHT; Undefeated Colt, Making 1953 Debut, Takes First Section of Gotham by 2 Lengths". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  5. Hunter, Avalyn (2003). American classic pedigrees (1914-2002) : a decade-by-decade review of Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont winners, plus Kentucky Oaks and Coaching Club American Oaks (1st ed.). Eclipse Press. pp. 278–280. ISBN   1-58150-095-5.
  6. Ahnert (editor in chief), Rainer L. (1970). Thoroughbred Breeding of the World. Germany: Pozdun Publishing. pp. 426–7.
  7. Hunter, Avalyn. "Discovery (horse)". American Classic Pedigrees. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  8. Daley, Arthur (9 May 1954). "Sports of The Times; A Matter of Color". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  9. Daley, Arthur (20 April 1953). "Sports of The Times; A Waltz for the Dancer". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  10. 1 2 "TRIUMPHS BY NECK; Master Fiddle Scores in the $63,300 Wood by Beating Tom Fool". Retrieved 18 July 2019.
  11. 1 2 Roach, James (24 April 1952). "Native Dancer Captures Jamaica Youthful by 6 Lengths; 9-10 SHOT TRIUMPHS OVER TRIBE IN DASH". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 July 2019.
  12. 1 2 3 Roach, James (5 August 1952). "Native Dancer Triumphs as Racing at Saratoga Starts; FLASH STAKES WON BY 4-TO-5 FAVORITE Native Dancer Triumphs Over Tiger Ski". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  13. 1 2 Roach, James (17 August 1952). "DOUBLE FOR GUERIN; Jockey Rides One Count and Native Dancer to Saratoga Triumphs". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  14. 1 2 Roach, James (24 August 1952). "Native Dancer and One Hitter Take Spa Stakes Before Record 26,232; 26,232 AT SPA SEE NATIVE DANCER WIN". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  15. 1 2 Roach, James (31 August 1952). "6 IN ROW FOR COLT; Unbeaten Native Dancer Earns $51,450 at Spa in 48th Hopeful TIGER SKIN RUNS SECOND". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  16. 1 2 Nichols, Joseph C. (23 September 1952). "Parading Lady Captures Vosburgh at Belmont by Length and a Half". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  17. 1 2 Roach, James (28 September 1952). "Undefeated Juvenile Equals World Mark in 8th Victory; $107,545 FUTURITY TO NATIVE DANCER". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  18. 1 2 3 Roach, James (23 October 1952). "Native Dancer Wins Ninth in Row to Break Earnings Mark; UNBEATEN COLT, 1-5, SCORES AT DISTANCE Native Dancer Earns $38,525 at Jamaica for 2-Year-Old Record of $230,495". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  19. Roach, James (5 December 1952). "VANDERBILT COLT IS HORSE OF YEAR; Native Dancer Named the 1952 American Champion -- Morris Is New T. R. A. President". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  20. "St. Petersburg Times: Native Dancer Horse of the Year". Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  21. "Greensburg Daily Tribune: Name One Count Horse of the Year". Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  22. Roach, James (10 January 1953). "Campbell Assigns Native Dancer Top Weight for the Experimental; Gray Is Only Fourth Colt in History of Race to Draw 130 or More Pounds". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  23. "NATIVE DANCER IN MISHAP; Vanderbilt's Colt Tosses Rider and Bolts, but Escapes Injury". The New York Times. 30 January 1953. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  24. "Native Dancer Arrives Fit for 3-Year-Old Bid". The New York Times. 18 March 1953. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  25. Roach, James (18 April 1953). "Native Dancer and Laffango Favored in Divisions of Gotham Today". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  26. "On This Day..." Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  27. 1 2 Roach, James (26 April 1953). "NO. 11 FOR 1-10 SHOT; Unbeaten Native Dancer Takes $123,750 Wood in Romp at Jamaica". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  28. "BH 100: Ghost in the Machine". Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  29. Davidowitz, Steve. "The Best and Worse of Thoroughbred Racing" (PDF). Daily Racing Form (book excerpt). Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  30. Daley, Arthur (30 April 1953). "Sports of The Times; On the Dawn Patrol". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  31. "Native Dancer and Correspondent Loom Big in Kentucky Derby Field". The New York Times. 27 April 1953. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  32. 1 2 3 4 Roach, James (3 May 1953). "CHOICE JUST MISSES; Dark Star, $51.80, Pins 1st Loss in 12 Races on Native Dancer". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  33. 1 2 Putnam, Pat. "When Guerin and the Dancer Were out of Step". SI Vault. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  34. 1 2 Simon, Mary (2003). Racing Through the Century: The Story of Thoroughbred Racing in America. BowTie Press. ISBN   1-889540-92-7.
  35. Thoroughbred champions : top 100 racehorses of the 20th century (1st ed.). The Blood-Horse, Inc. 1999. pp.  34-37. ISBN   1-58150-024-6.
  36. 1 2 Roach, James (17 May 1953). "1-20 CHOICE FIRST; Native Dancer Triumphs Easily in Three-Horse Race at Belmont". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  37. 1 2 3 Roach, James (24 May 1953). "Native Dancer Takes Preakness". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  38. "Dark Star, Lame After the Preakness, Is Retired From Competition". The New York Times. 26 May 1953. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  39. Klingaman, Mike. "Owner's trophy for Native Dancer's 1953 Preakness win bought at auction by local developer". Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  40. 1 2 3 Roach, James (14 June 1953). "Native Dancer Wins Belmont". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  41. "Training for the Triple Crown: How Times Have Changed". Paulick Report. 24 May 2014. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  42. 1 2 "Native Dancer, 'Lazy So-and So,' Will Be Kept Too Busy to Loaf; Dwyer at Aqueduct and Arlington Classic Are Next Fields to Conquer on Heavy Schedule for the Gray Galloper". The New York Times. 15 June 1953. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  43. 1 2 Roach, James (5 July 1953). "DWYER TO CHOICE; Native Dancer, 1 to 20, Wins Another". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  44. 1 2 Roach, James (19 July 1953). "A 9-LENGTH ROMP; Native Dancer Beats Sir Mango". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  45. 1 2 Roach, James (16 August 1953). "COLT TAKES NO. 17; Native Dancer Scores by 5 1/2 Lengths". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  46. Roach, James (18 August 1953). "Guerin Is Out of American Derby as Spa Stewards Suspend Him Ten Days; JOCKEY JOB OPEN ON NATIVE DANCER". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  47. "Arcaro to Ride Native Dancer in Rich American Derby at Chicago Saturday". The New York Times. 19 August 1953. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  48. "ARCARO TAKES RIDE ON NATIVE DANCER". The New York Times. 21 August 1953. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  49. 1 2 Nichols, Joseph C. (23 August 1953). "FIRST BY 2 LENGTHS; Native Dancer Captures Rich Race Under Arcaro in Near-Record Time AMERICAN DERBY TO NATIVE DANCER". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  50. "CITATION STILL NO. 1, EDDIE ARCARO SAYS". The New York Times. 24 August 1953. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  51. "Dancer, Tom Fool Race Goal of Pimlico Track". The New York Times. 4 August 1953. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  52. Roach, James (8 August 1953). "Tom Fool-Native Dancer Race in Prospect as Belmont Changes Sysonby Date; MILE TEST SEPT. 26 RAISED TO $50,000". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  53. "NATIVE DANCER OUT OF RACING FOR 1953". The New York Times. 20 September 1953. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  54. "TOM FOOL HORSE OF YEAR; Native Dancer Named Leading 3-Year-Old by Turf Experts". The New York Times. 14 November 1953. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  55. "Writers Pick Tom Fool As 'Horse of the Year'". The New York Times. 17 December 1953. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  56. "The Dancer May Race at Ascot -- If Weights Here Get Too Heavy". The New York Times. 20 March 1954. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  57. "Native Dancer May Run In France Next Autumn". The New York Times. 27 June 1954. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  58. 1 2 Roach, James (8 May 1954). "Native Dancer Takes Belmont Sprint in His First Race Since Last August". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  59. 1 2 Roach, James (16 May 1954). "Native Dancer, 1 to 4, Takes Metropolitan at Belmont Park". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  60. Nichols, Joseph C. (26 May 1954). "Native Dancer Becomes a Doubtful Starter in Suburban". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  61. Nichols, Joseph C. (28 May 1954). "Ailing Native Dancer Is Withdrawn From the Suburban". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  62. 1 2 Roach, James (17 August 1954). "Native Dancer Outruns First Glance and Gigantic at Saratoga". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  63. Roach, James (23 August 1954). "Native Dancer, Winner of 21 of 22 Races, Is Retired From Competition; VANDERBILT COLT WILL GO TO FARM Dancer Shows Signs of Old Foot Injury Following Fast Ten-Furlong Workout". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  64. "Native Dancer Horse of Year". St. Joseph News-Press. 1954-11-27. Retrieved 2012-02-27.
  65. Roach, James (1954-12-03). "Native Dancer Named Horse of Year". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-02-27.
  66. 1 2 "Native Dancer's DNA the winner". The Denver Post. 2 May 2008. Retrieved 22 July 2019.
  67. "Native Dancer". Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  68. "Native Dancer Offspring". Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  69. "Exclusive Dancer (horse)". American Classic Pedigrees. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  70. "Shenanigans (horse)". American Classic Pedigrees. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  71. "Native Dancer (USA) - offspring". Australian Stud Book. Australian Turf Club Limited and Victoria Racing Club Limited. Retrieved 9 September 2011.
  72. Maese, Rick. "Thoroughly bred". Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  73. "NATIVE DANCER, 17, DIES FROM TUMOR; Stomach Operation Fails to Save Racing Champion". Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  74. Montgomery, E.S, "The Thoroughbred", Arco, New York, 1973 ISBN   0-668-02824-6
  75. "Hall of Fame - Horses". National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
  76. "Native Dancer". Maryland Athletic State Hall of Fame. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
  77. "On This Date". Bloodhorse. Retrieved July 23, 2019.
  78. "The Sport". America's Best Racing. Retrieved July 19, 2019.
  79. "Native Dancer statue unveiled in Saratoga Springs". Times Union. 1 August 2015. Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  80. "Pedigree of Native Dancer". Retrieved 27 July 2019.
  81. Morris, Simon; Tesio Power 2000 - Stallions of the World, Syntax Software
  82. "Thoroughbred Bloodlines - Bajazet Mare - Family 5-f". Retrieved 27 July 2019.