Alfred G. Vanderbilt was famous for coming up with creative horse names, and he hit the jackpot when Geisha foaled a colt in 1950 by Polynesian which Vanderbilt duly named Native Dancer. There was a new fangled device in many American homes in the early fifties called a television set, and it so transpired that when the big grey Native Dancer crushed all opposition, winning all nine of his two year old races in 1952, that he be dubbed “The Grey Ghost”, and became a sports hero. I have a Native Dancer scrapbook from 1953, and it was a sad day when Dark Star nosed Native Dancer into what would be his sole loss in 22 starts, in the Kentucky Derby.
Still considered one of America`s all time best race horses, some say only out done by Secretariat and Man O` War, Native Dancer also dominated the breeding shed. Two of his foals in particular, Natalma, the dam of Northern Dancer, and Raise A Native, carry much of Native Dancer`s influence into modern pedigrees. Because we`ve already discussed Northern Dancer under the Nearctic-Nearco sire line, let`s concentrate on Raise A Native, who was blazing fast but not terribly sound. Although he bowed a tendon in his two year old racing year, Raise A Native became an enormously influential racing sire.
He sired Exclusive Native, who in turn sired Triple Crown winner, Affirmed, and the KY Derby winning filly, Genuine Risk. He sired Gone West,Majestic Prince and Alydar, and, most importantly, he sired Mr. Prospector, whose dam, Gold Digger, was by Nashua, by Nasrullah.
If you study modern thoroughbred pedigrees even in the most cursory way, you`ll see Mr. Prospector`s name over and over and over. In the Triple Crown races, on little dirt tracks in Nowhere Land. Any place horses race, Mr. Prospector`s descendants are there. So we`ll end this section on Native Dancer here, and in the next installment, we`ll study the ubiquitous “Mr. P.”