Tuesday 9 August 2016

Northern Dancer Wins Kentucky Derby

Damsired by Native Dancer at Windfield Farms in Oshawa in 1961, Northern Dancer was the first Canadian bred racehorse to win the Kentucky Derby.  What he lacked in stature he made up for in heart.  As a two year old, Northern Dancer debuted on the Fort Erie racetrack where he captured a $2,100 prize.  His jockey, Ron Turcotte, explained:  "We won that race by eight lengths.  He was a bold horse.  Brave.  He could handle anything.  The grass.  The mud.  Anything."  The same year, Northern Dancer captured the Summer Stakes, Coronation Futurity Stakes, and Remsen Stakes, putting him in a good position for the following year.

In 1963, he entered the Kentucky Derby with jockey Bill Hartack.  While he had an unsettling start, bucking when the band played "Old Kentucky Home", he settled down once he got into position. With the race underway, he avoided some of the horses which got tangled up.  One author said that his "short, powerful legs made like a hummingbird's wings".  Northern Dancer crossed the finish lines in two minutes flat, a Derby record that remained unbroken until Secretariat won the famous race in 1973 (http://alinefromlinda.blogspot.ca/2012/05/secretariat.html).  As Northern Dancer was draped with a blanket of roses, Canadian sportswriters started typing the headlines for the following day.  History had been made.

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