He is quite possibly the greatest Canadian-bred of all time. He is certainly considered among the greatest horses as far as bloodstock goes. What he is is the only horse to win the Kentucky Derby and the Queen's Plate (although a horse named Ferdinand won the Plate in 1897 and one won the Derby in 1986), the premier three-year-old race in both the U.S. and Canada.
His name is Northern Dancer and in 1964, he turned the elusive trick of winning the Derby and Plate. He also threw in a Preakness win for good measure. Unfortunately, the victory in the Queen's Plate turned out to be the swan song of Northern Dancer's career. His racing career is one of the greatest of all-time considering he never missed the money in eighteen lifetime starts with fourteen wins, two seconds and two thirds for a total take of $580,806.
His stud career has become legendary, so legendary in fact that a very good book was written about him and his progeny called "The Kingmaker" by Avalyn Hunter, a copy of which I own. While he did not manage to win the American Triple Crown in 1964, his offspring, Nijinsky II, is the last remaining horse to win the British Triple Crown (2,000 Guineas, Epsom Derby, and St. Leger Stakes) in 1970. All together, Northern Dancer sired 147 stakes winners. According to his Wikipedia page, Northern Dancer also is present in the lineage of recent greats like Storm Cat, Big Brown, Mine That Bird, Summer Bird, and 2009 Horse Of The Year, Rachel Alexandra.
Also, he was the Champion Three-Year-Old Male in 1964, not to mention the Canadian Horse Of The Year the same year.
Finally, another former Queen's Plate winner, With Approval in 1989, passed away at the age of 24 on June 21.
Tune in on Friday for a look at this year's Queen's Plate on Sunday. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!
Photo courtesy of candaianhorseracinghalloffame.com